Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!

Episode #168 - Maintaining Our Health When Working Remotely

 

 


Introduction: Welcome to Health and Safety to Go! broadcasting from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Host: Thanks for joining us. This podcast was recorded on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. In todayís episode weíre talking about maintaining our health, safety, and distance when working from home.

The outside may be a lot quieter and the streets much emptier these days, but in homes throughout the country, people are busy working in an effort to keep organizations, governments and businesses going. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has challenged employers to equip their workers with the tools they need in order to do their jobs safely at home, and itís important that this focus includes both mental and physical health.

WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO:

For many workers, it is their first time working remotely for an extended period of time. Employers play a critical role in helping them adjust to changes.

Provide information on an ideal workstation set-up.† Help your employees make adjustments to their remote workspace, if possible. You have limited control in providing corrective solutions, so itís important that the staff are aware of ergonomic injuries and how to prevent them. Encourage a neutral body position and ask staff to monitor their comfort levels and take breaks as needed.

Outline duties, expectations, and deadlines.† Make sure that they are discussed with and agreed upon by the employee. Be careful not to encourage overwork.

Maintain regular contact with your staff.† In addition to email, use video meetings and phone calls if possible, to help bridge the distance. Set up a daily check-in with your employees to learn about their well-being, keep them informed of any changes to procedures or processes, and share answers to questions that other staff have asked. Likely there are others who are wondering about the same things.

Model the behaviour you want to see.  As an organization, agree that unless there is an emergency, there are downtimes, outside of work hours, in which access to people are off-limits. Donít bring your work to bed. Enjoy watching your show without glancing at your phone. Set boundaries in order to maintain a mental separation between work and life, even when it is physically not possible.

Offer help.  Let employees know about available resources to help them with issues, whether thatís an employee assistance program, a mental health champion/first aider on staff, or contacts that they can reach out to with any technical or safety questions. Self-isolation does not mean working alone.

Donít forget about celebrating the good stuff. †Did a project get completed on time, with all team members working from their homes to get it done? Or maybe a customer wrote in about receiving great online service. Recognize success, big and small, and encourage others to share their stories.

 

WHAT EMPLOYEES CAN DO:

Here are some tips for employees to stay healthy and safe while working at home.

Set up a specific location where you work. †This may be a room, or just a section, but it is always the place where you do your work.† Now that youíve established this location as your place of work, move away from it regularly. It is easy to get trapped with the feeling that you must always be online, checking your email, and responding to colleagues right away. Set a timer on your phone to get away from your computer for five minutes every hour. Schedule breaks in your calendar if needed. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and to naturally remind you to get up and take breaks.

Try to begin and finish at the same time every day. Establish a routine and have a beginning and end of day ritual. Perhaps leave the house and walk around the block before starting work or brew up a cup of tea. You may want to end the day by taking the dog out or listening to an upbeat song.

As you would for working in the office, set a schedule and stick to it. †Make a 'to do' list and check your accomplishments at the end of the day.† If you have kids or pets, you will get interrupted. Try to establish a routine and involve them when you do take a break so that they get time with you throughout the day. 

Accept that your work and personal life will intersect and thatís okay.

 

For information and resources relating to the Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 pandemic please visit www.ccohs.ca. Thanks for listening everyone.