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10 TIIPS FOR BUSINESSES & WORKERS TO TRANSITION OUT OF LOCKDOWN AS SOME OFFICES REOPEN
Employers: Consider ditching ‘hot-desking’ trend as Coronavirus deep-cleaning priorities kick in
Employees: Get ready for ‘the new normal’ – desk-working back-to-back (not face-to-face)
Home workers: Avoid awkward makeshift workstations like ironing boards, top back expert warns
All workers: Become accustomed to ‘blended working’, part-time office, part-time at home
Homeworkers are risking back pain, migraines, sciatica and RSI by creating makeshift workstations from domestic appliances like ironing boards, sofa armrests and rickety garden furniture
That’s the finding of one of the country’s leading health ergonomists and back-injury-prevention experts, who has conducted hundreds of home workstation assessments since lockdown began on March 23.
Nichola Adams normally tours top British companies’ offices around the country advising them on how they can minimise the risk of back injury in the workforce. Her top ten tips are –
FOR EMPLOYERS CONSIDER DITCHING ‘HOT-DESKING’ It’s going to be essential when we return to the office to implement a new ‘single-desk-per-day’ regime, and to clean work surfaces, like desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards and mice, at the end of every individual worker’s shift. So, this does sound a death knell for the widespread cost-saving practice of ‘hot-desking’. If workers are nervous about continuing to hot-desk, you’ll need to respect their concerns.
DOWNSIZE TO LOWER CAPACITY Because of the continuing rules on social distancing, companies with, say, 100 staff, will now only have capacity for 20-40 employees in the office at any one time. Businesses should plan ahead for this lower capacity. The need to radically reduce the amount of people in the office has already prompted many companies to rotate staff by day or by the week, to widen the spread between teams. A mix of homeworking and office shifts looks likely for the foreseeable future.
GET BUSY SCREENING & CLEANING Screens or barriers may be needed around desks. Pods or self-contained units for workers will have partitions on all sides of the desk to stop the virus spreading when we cough and breathe. Covid-19 lingers longest on plastic, so the more porous your partition fabric, the more the virus is absorbed, meaning there’s less likelihood of transference. Workstations should be cleansed after every shift, also chairs, tables, monitors and office break-out furniture as the virus lands on many surfaces. If used, reception sofas should be cleaned after each arriving guest.
INCREASE SUPPORT FOR YOUR WORKFORCE A new Institute for Employment Studies (IES) survey of 500 homeworkers, found 75% said their employer had not carried out a health and safety risk assessment of their homeworking arrangements in lockdown. People are confused, need help, guidance and want to feel safe. Good advice is scarce. I recommend employers host health and wellbeing workshops, support employees’ mental health, and conduct fresh office ergonomic workstation assessments, which they’re legally obliged to if workstations move. Some staff may feel keen to return to the office, others nervous. Talk to individuals about their concerns.
EMPLOYEE ALLOWANCES Musculoskeletal issues like back pain and injuries, and neck and upper-limb problems, cost UK plc nearly 7 million working days a year. Part of the problem of homeworking is few people have the right equipment to work comfortably in the long term. In lockdown, many companies are offering homeworkers an allowance . It is important to get professional advice on what equipment to buy, or consider sending their office equipment home.
For advise for your own homeworkers, please contact Inspired Ergonomics for details on one to one remote assessments and online workshops at [email protected]