It’s been two years since the start of the pandemic. And unsurprisingly, many people are still working from home — some not by choice, others by preference. That’s great news as teleworkers have a better work-life balance, less stress from commuting, and they even report having improved finances.
With that list of perks, you could consider yourself lucky if you work from home. But there is a flip side to this metaphorical coin. Without proper precautions, working from home comes with serious health, safety, and security risks.
Remote workers should know how to reap the benefits and avoid common pitfalls — or worse-case scenarios. To help, we’ve put together a health and safety checklist for working from home.
Common musculoskeletal injuries for remote workers — joint and muscle pain — are no joke and often happen because of poor posture at the workstation. Also, an issue such as an eyestrain can have a domino effect, leading to additional problems like headaches, dry eyes, and double vision. Review this workstation and best practices checklist to avoid these issues.
Sitting in an uncomfortable chair without proper back and elbow support can lead to spine-related problems in the long run.
- Has an adjustable seat pan to ensure your elbows can stay at a 90-degree angle when typing.
- Rounded or ‘waterfall’ seat pan that doesn’t cut circulation at the knees.
- Five-leg base that’s sturdy
- Tilt the seat back, or lower lumbar support to fit into the curve of your lower back.
- Adjust the headrest to keep your head in a neutral, upright position.
Desk height and desk space can also influence the positioning of your body. Long-term, this can lead to musculoskeletal issues that could impact your quality of life.
- Desk height allows for 90-degree elbow angle
- Has depth that allows monitor positioning for visual comfort
- Keep frequently used items within reach, especially landline phones.
- Has enough leg space that allows leg movement and the ability to keep your feet flat on the ground.
The position of your mouse, keyboard, and monitor affect your posture, which can lead to back, neck, and shoulder issues.
- A mouse is right next to the keyboard
- Keyboard height allows wrists and hands to be in alignment
- Monitor(s) is facing you directly to avoid twisting your neck
- Position the monitor where there is no glare
- Adjust monitor height and depth for visual comfort
Your teleworking setup can be potentially hazardous if you’re not aware. Risk management is a key factor. Review this checklist to ensure you avoid a slip and fall or fire.
Things around your workspace and home office can act as an accelerant for a fire. Make sure to take precautions measures such as below.
- You have a working smoke detector nearby
- A fire extinguisher is readily available
- Portable heaters are away from flammable materials
- You have a plan in case of a fire
Anytime you’re working around electricity, it’s important to ensure that you won’t be injured by shock. These tips are also related to fire prevention.
- All electrical equipment is connected to a surge protector
- Your cords and panels are in good condition with no exposed wiring
- The household electrical system can handle your office equipment
- You turn off all equipment when not in use
Creating a safe environment helps to protect you from a slip and fall. Poor ventilation and temperature control can also lead to increased symptoms due to dust and allergies.
- The area around your workstation is clear of trip hazards
- Flooring is in good condition to prevent tripping on loose carpet or tile
- You have good ventilation and temperature control in your work area
- There’s adequate lighting to reveal any potential hazards
Keeping data safe — whether personal or company — when working from home is a top priority. Follow this checklist to ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft or cause network security issues at work.
Protecting your computer from viruses and other malware is a key issue for many remote workers that can compromise both security and productivity.
- Install and update your antivirus software
- Never click emails from unknown senders on your personal or professional inbox
- Enable real-time protection within your antivirus software
- Antivirus software should perform quick scans on reboots and when opening attachments and a deep scan every twelve hours
Personal and corporate data theft costs individuals and companies billions of dollars every year.
- Don’t forward work emails to your personal account
- Use a reliable VPN like Surfshark to encrypt data sent and received
- Unless approved, avoid printing work content at home
- Use cloud storage and backup your data on the regular
Many internet users often think their home Wi-Fi is safe and secure. But in fact, it’s often one of the most vulnerable network security areas exploited by hackers.
- Choose an inconspicuous Wi-Fi name that doesn’t draw attention
- Create a unique, long password with at least 16 characters that includes numbers, capitals, and symbols
- Change your password quarterly. This is also good practice for your computer login credentials.
- Enable WPA2 network encryption, and use software that detects who is on your network with alerts
Now you have a solid workspace, a safe working area, and a secure network. Read on to check that you’re following the best practices for your physical and mental health when working at home.
Remote workers often know to exercise and take mental health breaks. But during working hours, there are also things you can do to protect your health.
- Take a break from screen watching and typing every 30 minutes
- Use your hand to hold your phone or use a headset
- Keep your wrists upright when typing and don’t use a support block
- Monitor your seated posture when working and sit up straight
Our bodies are not meant to stay in one position for hours at a time. These activities will help keep your body in working shape for the rest of your career.
- Incorporate outdoor activity and exercise into your day
- If you receive work packages at home, be sure to use a trolly or other lifting mechanism to help with heavy items.
- Take stretching breaks throughout the day
- Rotate head neck and shoulders periodically at your desk
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health issues can impact our focus and productivity, so it’s better to prevent rather than cure them.
- Establish work hours and boundaries with your partner, children, or roommates
- Create a pleasant working environment with music and/or scented candles.
- Minimize distractions in your working area
- Schedule regular meetings with managers and co-workers to create positive working relationships
The working environment is changing across the nation. If you’re one of the many employees who work from home, be aware injuries, cyber threats, and other dangers can occur.
With this checklist, you should be able to implement solid ergonomic practices, safety precautions, and network security protocols that will protect your physical and mental health.