The New Normal: How to Adjust to Working from Home

It’s officially week 2 of stay safe, stay put and I’m sure many of us are still adjusting to our new situations and the challenges they present. This is unprecedented and probably doesn’t feel like any working from home you’ve done before.

Some of you will never have had to try do the day job with a toddler at your ankles, some of you are now teachers and need to seriously brush up on your maths skills and some are probably already fed up of seeing the same four walls/same partner/family member!

The purpose of this blog series is to keep you company over the weeks and help you cope with what is undoubtedly a bizarre and disconcerting time.

How to set up an office space

The first thing to consider at home is how well you are set up for work. At work, you’ve got the necessary equipment for a good work station and your H&S team on hand to help you out but at home, you might be at your dining table on an uncomfortable chair.

Your chair: As it is unlikely that you will have an adjustable chair you can try to get into an ideal sitting position using a cushion or pillow (folded in half) to sit on and a rolled-up towel against your lower back for lumbar support. Make sure that your feet are planted on the floor. If you can’t do this use a biscuit tin, Tupperware container or similar as a footrest.

Your screen: Raise your laptop/tablet up using books, biscuit tins etc. as best you can. You may not achieve the ideal position but aim to raise your laptop/tablet by a minimum of 15 cm. Your eyes should naturally hit the top third of your screen when you are looking straight ahead. Even a small height adjustment should help. The goal is to avoid dropping your head as much as possible to try and avoid neck and shoulder strain.

Mouse and keyboard: If you are raising up your laptop/tablet use an external keyboard and mouse so that you are not working with your arms too high. If you don’t have these just keep your laptop flat on the table but take regular breaks (every 15 mins) as your arms will tire.

Screen glare: Try and use natural light as much as possible.

Picture of a desk with a laptop sitting on it and a wicker chair in front of it

Keep moving

This is very important when working at a makeshift desk, move more than usual. Aim for movement every 15-30 mins, a quick stretch, a phone call on your feet, a quick peek out the window to see what the neighbours are or aren’t up to your muscles will thank you.

You’ll no doubt find that you’re generally moving a lot less too, not walking to work or to meet friends so it’s important to find new ways of building exercise into your routine.

Routine. You might have heard that word a lot over the last week, every article will tell you it’s vital and some of you might find the idea laughable at the moment but getting up at the same time each day, having a wash and getting dressed as usual (although PJ bottoms are always acceptable on Teams) might help things feel a little more like normal.

From there you can begin to think about how you might plan your ”˜working’ week which we fully appreciate will be very different and we encourage you to spend time with your family/housemates/partners to work out how you’ll manage things.

Be sure to spend time socialising online with your friends and family. Finding positive ways to communicate will help combat the anxiety that this situation creates and another way to manage this is to limit news coverage to a set point in the day/week to keep up to date but not overwhelmed.

Scheduling time for daily exercise is important and we’ll be sharing more tips and resources on that shortly but for now, I leave you with a tip from one of our resident runners if you have stairs, run up and down them for as long as feels comfortable and remember to stretch before and after!

We’ll be doing more on stretching soon with online yoga in the meantime, stay safe, stay calm and stay put!

Tell us if you are feeling isolated, anxious or concerned. We’ve got resources that can help.