Don’t make the same ‘working from home’ mistakes I made.

Hindsight is a great thing, isn’t it? How many times have you wished you could go back in time and do things differently, to achieve a more positive outcome? At times, we’re our own worst enemies. Cutting corners, skipping out steps in a process, rushing or not listening to advice from others leading to poor results, accidents, or, in my case, degenerative disc disease. I was given the tools, advice, encouragement, and nagging to improve my work-life balance and workstation, and I ignored them all chasing success and money.

Global workplace analytics (https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast) say ‘Our best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021’.

This is a significant increase on the pre-pandemic estimation of 3.6% people who worked from home half the time or more. A number I was, and still am, part of. Working from home gave me so many benefits, yet I didn’t take advantage of them. Instead, I found that time previously spent on my morning and evening commutes listening to the radio, catching up with family and friends on the phone, reading a book, thinking about the day ahead etc were swapped with me hitting my desk early and staying there until late (usually working 7.30 – 18.30). Grabbing a snack or visiting the toilet were the only reasons I left my desk . Gone were the lunch breaks where I could get some fresh air, buy something for dinner, treat myself at pay day to a new outfit, meet a friend etc.

As the achievements, bonuses and recommendations rolled in, little did I know that I was developing degenerative disc disease which would lead to immense pain, and the first of what will most likely be three ACDF (anterior cervical disc fusion) operations to replace the worn discs in my neck with an ever-growing titanium cage and a lifetime ahead of good and bad days of pain in my neck, shoulders, arms and hands.

The benefit of hindsight

If I could go back in time, what three things would I do differently?

  1. Listen to my colleagues, who said ‘take breaks’, ‘finish work now’, ‘why are you sending emails at this time, stop’. My annual appraisal even said I must find a work-life balance (he knew I was driven by objectives set on my appraisal, but I ignored this one).
  2. Create an ergonomic workstation. I had the opportunity to purchase a desk, chair, screen (workstation) that was fully ergonomic. Just Google ‘ergonomic workstation’ to see a number of images of a workspace with a screen that is eye level, a chair that gives good lumbar support and a keyboard that supports your wrists etc, all designed to protect you from long term injuries that include:
  • Spinal degeneration
    • Postural aging, by losing the natural curvature of your spine
    • Partial paralysis
    • Tendonitis
    • Stress
  • Recognise everything I do today will impact my future health. I’m lucky to have an employer who pays for my annual medical insurance, and with this benefit came an Apple Watch, giving me the motivation and reminders to walk, stand, breathe and so much more.

Why am I telling you all of this?

The travel industry hadn’t fully embraced homeworking prior to the pandemic, but this has changed and many of the travel jobs our sister business, Progressive Travel Recruitment, fills are now home-based full or part-time. I believe all home workers should be asked to conduct a ‘workplace analysis’ of their workstation and are provided with the tools needed to guarantee and protect their health, safety and welfare. I’ve built all these requirements into our training course ‘migrating to remote home-working’. If you find yourself working from home, the objectives of this course will help you.

  • Devise a plan to work from home, understanding everything you will need to guarantee a safe and conducive working environment
  • Review a number of communication apps and approaches that maintain a sense of community, involvement and which avoid conflict and isolation
  • Identify the different types of cyber-attack and security measures you may need
  • Describe how to avoid burnout with self-care

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