Looking after the hard workers!

Have you ever thought about what you’d do if you didn’t have any hands?  So far today I’ve got out of bed, dressed, washed, made breakfast and had a couple of cups of coffee whilst going through my emails and starting my working day.  All of these activities involved using my hands and so it’s safe to say I’d be lost without them!

So, if that’s the case, why don’t we take more care of them?  As I’m writing this, I’m reaching for the handcream because I’ve just noticed they’re a little dry, but is that enough?

One of the biggest complaints people experienced since home working is wrist and hand pain and yet a few simple changes can make all the difference.  So what can you do:

  1. Consider your posture.  Yes, believe it or not, that does make a difference.  Sitting too low or slouching at your desk can mean that your hands are on a poor angle when working and this can put a lot of strain on them.  Raising yourself to the optimum level will ensure you hold your wrists well when working.
  2. Stretch regularly!  The internet is full of good exercises to help you stretch and strengthen your wrists.  A stressball can work as well too. 
  3. Get the right equipment.  A good keyboard and mouse can make a world of difference.  Whether it’s a keyboard with lighter keys or an ergonomic mouse, there is something to suit everyone in this area.
  4. And yes, giving your hands a rest and a little bit of pampering can make them feel a whole lot better too!

Reflections on lockdown home working

Let’s go back to 23 March 2020 and Boris announced that the country would take the unprecedented step of going into lockdown to combat Covid 19.  Two days later this came into effect, and we all started working from home.

For many, this was all very new, and they weren’t set up for it, and so they got creative!

Some people moved house to something big enough to hold an office, others recommissioned spare bedrooms, corners of living rooms, children’s bedrooms – you name it, they did it!  One gentleman I spoke to was sitting in the utility room working by the back door.  It was the only place that he could get a good wifi signal that wasn’t in the way of his family, another individual was perched on a barstool, working at a kitchen surface whilst his family had use of the rest of the house.

People sat in bed or on sofa’s, often propped up by pillows, they wedged themselves in at children’s desks.  For those who didn’t want to have their laptop on their lap, they worked from coffee tables, dressing tables, dining tables and even little picnic tables.  The most uncomfortable seat that I came across was someone who was sitting on their child’s high chair (they were petite, so that’s probably why they got away with it, but still it was cramped!).

People adapted anyway they could, and everyday objects took on a whole new purpose as they became tools for working at home!

Perhaps the most creative and, indeed, ingenious solution was the ironing board!  With the ability to raise it up to its highest settings it proved to be a good alternative to sitting at a desk all day and was also very handy for video conferencing.  It is amazing how many people have found this to be a useful solution to some of their issues.

As a Workplace and Ergonomics Consultant working during lockdown, we’ve not always been able to recommend the equipment we usually would, and instead, we’ve had to be creative in recommending solutions.  We’ve seen the creation of cardboard desks (both sitting and standing versions) and ergonomic cushions being just two possible options. 

Of course, a desk, monitor, keyboard, mouse and office chair will always be the best set up for any office worker, and I would recommend anyone looking to work at home permanently to find a way to fit these in, however, this season has shown that there are alternatives.