The Home Office of the Future: A Checklist

If you’re not doing it all of the time, you’ll be doing it some of the time and if you’re not doing it at all you’ll be the envy of many who don’t have a choice. ‘Working from home’ sounds great and it was always the ultimate working blag… “yeah, sure you are”.

So it’s rather lost its bite and meaning over the past nine months. Many are now having to embrace working from home as part of their daily diet of work. So how can you make it better, how can you ensure you’re doing it right, how can you ensure you’ve got all the bases covered? B4 Members from our Business Services, IT and Comms group came together to discuss how you can make your home office perfect… well, you’ve already got decent coffee, right?

HR

Ian Mundy
Ian Mundy, You HR

Ian Mundy, You HR
Employer responsibilities: These continue even in the remote home office environment. Ensure H&S requirements are met (Display Screen Equipment Assessments for instance) are undertaken regularly and acted upon to maintain a safe working environment for your employees.

Keep Your Culture Alive: Do you have any office traditions, like a Friday Happy Hour or a yoga class? Keep the whole team aligned and engaged by encouraging and setting up online hangouts to carry on your fine traditions and maintain employee wellbeing.

Keep Flexible: Not only do employees generally prefer working their hours flexibly, but employers do as well. Many businesses now find themselves having to manage new challenges as a result of home working arrangements. Employees will engage more when this is managed consistently and employee contracts reflect this arrangement.

Insurance

Paul Monaco Cert CII, FOCUS Oxford Risk Management
Employers will need to check their business insurance policies to make sure that their business contents, such as computers and other key office equipment, are covered for use away from the main business premises. This needs to include cover for use by employees at their own homes – and whilst in transit. Another point to check is the policy terms and conditions with regards to security relating to the premises, such as the right locks on doors and windows.

Health and Safety regulations still apply as noted above and if not adhered too, could cause problems if a claim were to be made by an employee.

Personal home insurance policies will often provide cover for home workers – but in a clerical/admin role only. However, if the equipment used – computer, telephone etc, belongs to the company, then it must be covered by the employer’s business insurance as it cannot be covered by the individual’s home insurance if they don’t own the items.

Be aware of liability risks for the home office or business if visitors are likely. This would not be covered under the home insurance policy and so the right liability insurance would need to be in place.

Presentation

Ryan Weston, Adept Graphics
As the home office becomes part of the new normal and for some businesses their long-term strategy branding, aesthetics and morale become more important.

We have all been in zoom/teams meetings where everything from the kitchen sink to the washing is in the background. We will continue to be forgiving as a nation but at the same time, we may need to up our professional game.

With this in mind, home office graphics and wall wraps are growing in popularity and demand.

Home office graphics can give you that professional edge, brand touch and most importantly make you feel that you are in a place of work. Motivational messages and graphics can play a part in motivating you in the workplace and building up morale.

IT & Communications

Paul ballinger
Paul Ballinger, STL

Paul Ballinger, STL Communications
Productivity and Communication are the top of the list for our customer needs. It always was but over the last 12 months it’s become priority #1.

“I want everything we have in the office at home and I still want it in the office if and when we go back!”

This, thankfully, is easy to deliver to anyone. It starts with the correct reliable business connectivity – internet access – there is a flavour for all demands.Once that’s in place your customer and internal interactions can be seamless and probably better than before. It’s a wise investment as most businesses have seen.

Quick responses to enquiries, shared files that are all in order and version controlled, management information on the communication in and out of the business, even down to how your team are using the software you have invested in, not just how long they are online, but how they are benefitting.

The irony is the cost of enabling this per person can be around the same as we spent on takeaway coffee in a week! Giving the tools to allow the team to be predictive should be a given. Who wouldn’t want the best from their team?

Ergonomics

Dan Brown COEL
Dan Brown, COEL

Dan Brown, COEL
Ergonomic furniture will be an essential tool in helping support people as they set up their home office. Whilst in lockdown #1 we may have all tried our hand at Heath Robinson inventions with clever but not necessarily effective use of ironing boards being used to emulate standing desks and a tower of coffee table books to raise our screens to eye level; these ingenious inventions sadly did not hit the right note. 

Months on we have seen the light and understand the vital importance ergonomic furniture plays in supporting function, providing comfort, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal problems, back and neck issues, joint pain, arthritis, compressed organs, and poor blood pressure.

Ergonomic furniture provides an investment in maintaining good health, heightened levels of comfort and improved work productivity.

Features that ergonomic furniture should include:

  • The ability to adjust height of chairs and for the arms and backs to have flexible adjustments to allow for movement
  • Screen monitors which can pivot
  • Filtered screens to prevent eye strain
  • Keyboard and mouse support to provide comfort for wrists and hands

Darren Aston, Aston & James
The way we do business continues to evolve from the traditional workplace to a workspace in recent times.  Supporting wellbeing is hugely important.

Darren Aston
Darren Aston, Aston & James

Ergonomics can be defined as the scientific study of the fit between people and their work. Ergonomics focuses on ensuring that tasks, equipment, information, and the environment suit each worker. Not only can ergonomics make you more comfortable at work, but it can also help to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. By proactively looking at the way you work, you can help to prevent illnesses and reduce risks in the workspace. You can also improve productivity and performance and really Love your Workspace.

Inadequate home workstations and work pressures are putting people’s health at risk – 49% don’t have a proper workstation – 10% working from their sofa – 5% working from their bed – 3% working from the floor.

Working from home the Workspace for a good number of people has really increased the issues we had in our workplace. A study carried our recently by Fellowes showed 38% of workers feel stressed/anxious and 32% expressed concerns of being lonely or isolated.

We need to love ourselves a little bit more, we always look at supporting the zones to ensure people are looking prevention. Zone 1 is to prevent back tensions – Zone 2 avoid wrist pressure – Zone 3 relieve neck strain and probably and most importantly Zone 4 – reducing inactivity. Move more to support a good working day. Suggestions that ergonomists provide for a good seated position is that your thighs are parallel to the floor, your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest, your knees should not touch the seat pan and should be a couple of fingers away from the back of your legs and not in contact with the waterfall front seat, enough distance there to allow blood flow to the legs whilst being sat. look at your chair to see if you need a back support or attachable lumbar support. Provide yourself with relief

To ensure the long-term health and wellbeing of yourself and your employees, you’ll also want to provide ergonomic products such as footrests, back supports, or monitor risers. If you expect yourself or your employees to work from home (or another location) for extended periods, also consider monitor arms or risers that can help you and your team to be productive, engaged, and healthy while performing their duties.

Fact: Happy employees tend to be more loyal to their companies. A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive.

We featured a blog recently with these top tips for productivity and selfcare working from home – Stand regularly – let in natural light we all need our Vitamin D and that’s been lacking in the winter and lockdown. Set comfortable temperature – Remove distractions – organise your day to manage your stress container better and declutter.In summary –  Implement small changes for greater productivity – Create a happier, healthier more productive workspace. Self-assessment ( it’s not taxing – and it will pay dividends on your health and wellbeing.  Insight from the report highlighted that only 45% of people have ever completed Display Screen Assessment. Our Furniture team can walk you through this and will provide you with suggesti

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