Thu 26 / 03 / 20
How to look after the physical health of your employees when working from home
Sophia Barlow is a registered osteopath and employee health trainer. In this blog aimed at HR and senior management, she outlines key considerations for ensuring the physical health of employees is maintained when working remotely.
By Sophia Barlow of Moment Consulting
At moments of intense change, companies necessarily look at essential structure and prioritise keeping afloat. IT have been working their socks off, actually everyone has been working their socks off, but desk set-up at home and advice for employees’ physical wellbeing (mental health support is another story) is further down the list. So, if your company hasn’t had a chance to thoroughly brief their employees on the physical do’s and don’ts when home-working, let me help.
1. Let’s start with movement. Encourage your employees to retain their good habits from when they commute to the office. The cycle or walk to the station, trips to the water cooler, stand up meetings, client meetings – all these add up to more movement at work than you might expect. Try to get your employees to replace these with other activities; 30 mins of exercise before work, regular breaks from their desk (2 minute walk every 45 minutes), an active lunch break (ideally an hour, involving a 15 minute walk), even just standing up during a meeting. If you think your team would enjoy the approach, you could all track and share your physical journeys at home to encourage movement.
2. The importance of social interaction for mental health is well documented, but there is also substantial evidence highlighting its importance for physical wellbeing. Strong social ties reduce mortality, but they also impact on a range of other health conditions including cardiovascular disease, wound healing and recovery from chronic illness. Social ties matter; ensure you have in place the facility for colleagues to interact face-to-face (virtually), not just via email or phone, and not just for work related chat.
3. Sleep. If your employees are encouraged to stick to a certain start time, they are more likely to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. A regular 7-8 hours of sleep is a healthy guideline. When the body is asleep, its physiological cycles change and more tissue healing occurs. Getting enough sleep can prevent that achy wrist from turning into a repetitive strain injury, or that low back niggle from necessitating a week off work.
4. Hydration. Your employees’ bodies are 60% water, so hydration is an important point to emphasise. When working from home, without the water cooler there to provide a quick break and a chance to chat, encourage your employees to have a 1.5L bottle of water on their desk to try to finish throughout the working day. Don’t forget those breaks though!
5. Nutrition. It cannot be over stressed that a well-balanced diet is essential for a healthy body and your 5 -a-day is a great foundation to work from. You may want to consider letting your employees claim an allowance for fruit if you would normally have had fresh fruit readily available in the office.
6. Desk set-up. Remind your employees of the general rules for keeping a good seated posture at work. Top of the list; eyes in line with your screen (this may involve stacking books to elevate it). This is more difficult if you are working on a laptop, in which case having a separate keyboard is useful. A comfortable chair, with solid back support is necessary too.
Working from home has been proved time and again to be more productive for businesses, and with just a few small changes you can make sure your employees will be able to enjoy all the benefits of not commuting to work, without suffering any of the pitfalls.
If you would like further advice or on-line training about how to look after your employees’ physical health, get in touch at email@example.com
Good luck everyone!
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