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Over the years, Herman Miller have championed the physical and mental well-being of office workers with research that has changed the way offices are designed and employees are treated.

Oliver Baxter, Insight Programme Manager at Herman Miller lets us in on how one create a ‘Work From Home’ scenario that reflects their usual working style. “There are three key elements we believe should be taken into consideration when working from home”, says Baxter. “Keep in mind the nature of the task, the duration and posture.”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

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When looking from an ergonomic perspective, it is important that you design your work from home strategy to ensure it supports the correct combinations of work activities. “Over a seven-year period, Herman Miller discovered that there are 10 activities that are fundamental to everybody,” says Baxter. Of which, he groups seven as collaborative activities such as: chat, converse, co-create, divide and conquer, huddle, show and tell, warm-up and cool-down. Three activities are individual: process and respond, create and contemplate. “How much time you spend on each may depend on your job role, personality, age etc,” sayd Baxter.

It is important to be mindful of which activities you can do from home, and can’t do, and which ones communication tech can support you with.

HOW LONG IS TOO LONG?

“Different modes of work require different tools, but also different lengths of time, and the user needs to consider this when deciding where to physically and how do work,” says Baxter. “This will ensure they are comfortable and are not at risk of injuring themselves.”

According to Gretchen Reynold’s 2015 study, ‘A 2-minute walk may counter the harms of sitting’, when participants replaced as little as two minutes of sitting each hour with gentle walking, they lowered their risk of premature death by about 33 per cent, compared with people who sat almost non-stop.

Here are Baxter’s recommendations to avoid becoming sedentary and while growing productivity while WFH:

• Build up from two hours per day of standing and light activity (walking) to four hours per day.

• Seated work should be regularly broken up with periods of standing.

• Static postures should be avoided.

• Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away.

Listen to the push notifications from your smart watch encouraging you to stand, stretch and breathe. “If you don’t use connected devices to measure your vitals, Apps like Microsoft’s MyAnalytics can help plan your day based on your digital habits,” he says. “Being mindful of what you are doing is important and understanding where the best place to complete a task, based on the time required to do it, is key.”

POSTURE AND THE NEED TO MOVE

We understand that the human body is designed to move, and for the first 6 million years that’s what we’ve done.

Originally, humans didn’t need to cognitively build activity into life — life was active. Then came the industrial and technological revolutions, more conveniences, and some of us began to change the way we live and work. We took on more sedentary jobs. We became less active; add to it modern technology such as smartphones and tablets that put pressure on your cervical spine.

Overall, the increase in sedentary behaviour and evolution in technologies has had a negative impact causing musculoskeletal disorders and disruptions to our biochemical system. But there are a few ways to improve your home working situation to reduce stresses on your body.

Here are Baxter’s recommendations to encourage better posture and more movement while WFH:

• Use an ergonomic task chair if possible

• If you cannot use an ergonomics task chair move locations every couple of hours, including light stretching, to relax your spine

• Set at least three key work zones around your house, exhibiting the following postures. These can be: standing or poser height ie kitchen work top, tr or electric sit stand desaditional desk height i.e. dinging table or lounge height ie sofa or bed

• Jack up your screen so the black bar at the top is eye level and arms distance away, with books or magazines. For example, laptop stands are inexpensive.