Safety for Remote Employees
March 31, 2021 by Keely Knopp
As many companies have seen over the past year, working remotely has many benefits. However, it can also come with drawbacks such as body aches, eye strain, mental fatigue, overloaded electrical outlets, cybersecurity threats, and even emotional exhaustion. Here are some tips for your remote employees to better manage potential health risks of any physical or mental stressors while working from home.
Set up an ergonomic workstation.
Whether your remote employees move around the house or work at a single station all day, it is imperative to minimize strain and prevent injuries. Ergonomics deals with body efficiency and physical comfort, and it is the key to minimizing bodily strain. Five key ergonomics principles are:
- Relaxed shoulders
- Supported lower back
- Level head
- Straight wrists
- Supported feet
While working from home, it is essential to keep these five items in mind. Try to maintain a neutral position, whether you’re sitting stationary or moving around to work on more hands-on projects. Your body should be aligned in a natural straight line as much as possible, avoiding long stints in twisted positions. When working at a desk or table, make sure your chair, table, and desktop monitor are all positioned in such a way that you are not straining your back, neck, or eyes.
Protect your physical and mental well-being.
While Ergonomics can benefit physical health, that is only part of your employee’s well-being. Taking time to exercise, eat well, and enjoy time away from screens are all essential to protect their physical and mental well-being.
Rest often and take breaks. Rest is one of the most important aspects of a successful job. Without it, good ergonomic practices are not only less meaningful, but also less maintainable. Get proper rest each day and night, and remember to take breaks throughout the day. Varying tasks will also help employees avoid overworking and stay clear and focused.
Focus on constructive activities and create boundaries. It is important to maintain mental and emotional growth outside of work. Try focusing on constructive goals such as physical fitness and social connections to boost your emotional state and foster a sense of accomplishment. Creating digital boundaries can also help manage daily to-do’s more effectively by providing more structure to your day.
Prevent cybersecurity risks.
While technology makes telecommuting easier, it also increases opportunities for cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Remote work environments usually don’t have the same safeguards as in the office, so it’s important to practice good cybersecurity hygiene.
Keep your software protected and up to date. Update your software frequently, so that employees have the latest security measures installed in their remote machines. Using the latest anti-virus software and creating strong, varied passwords (with two-factor authentication, ideally) can help protect sensitive employer information.
Watch out for public threats. There are several ways a cyber threat can infiltrate your system, even with the precautions mentioned above. Be wary of potential phishing emails, and avoid using public WiFi—hackers can get into your system far more easily if you share the same network. Use a VPN or a personal hotspot instead.
Check your home office for safety hazards.
Your home often represents a place of comfort and security, which means that potential safety hazards can often be overlooked. With the increased use of electrical equipment, such as laptops, tablets, and phones, it’s even more important to identify potential risks and follow best practices to minimize the safety hazards. To protect yourself against any such electrical danger, heed these recommendations from the Electrical Safety Foundation International:
- Don’t overload outlets.
- Unplug appliances that aren’t in use to save energy and mitigate the risk of fire.
- Regularly inspect electrical and extension cords for damage. Replace cords that are damaged.
- Never run cords under rugs, carpets, doors, or windows. Make sure cords don’t become tripping hazards.
- Keep papers and other possibly combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters and heat sources. Don’t plug space heaters into an extension cord.
- Use proper wattage for lamps and lighting.
- Test smoke alarms at least every 3months, change batteries annually, and replace units every 10 years.
Protecting your remote employees against potential physical and mental hazards help decrease their risk of burnout, feelings of isolation, and physical injury.
Checking in regularly with those employees working remotely can help them maintain a positive outlook, and ensure that your company’s most valuable assets are happy, healthy and working at their best.
Source: GTPE Communications
Photo courtesy of flickr/www.microbizmag.co.uk