A lot of us are working from home amid the worldwide pandemic currently happening. This is nothing new to some. Maybe you have a nice, comfortable office space complete with a supporting chair. However, to others, this is anything but normal, and maybe your office is a kid’s art table and chair.
Whatever your situation is, a lot of us are finding ourselves sitting and working more often than not. This can mean experiencing more and new aches and pains that weren’t noticed while working in the office. This is because most offices furnish their desks with ergonomic furniture and most employees get up and walk around the office for various reasons throughout the day. There is no water cooler at home.
These weeks have turned to months for working at home, and they have strained our bodies not only mentally, but physically. These new aches and pains may lead us down a road to debilitating muscle injuries such as bad backs, sore necks, and achy shoulders.
To avoid going down this path, make sure you are spending as much time as you are able working in a neutral position where no body part is awkwardly bent or twisted. Also, try to move around every 30 minutes. You want to walk around and get yourself a cup of coffee or water. If you can, try to stretch. There are a plethora of apps and online sites that will help you figure out what back exercises to do to stay limber. There are even health sites that will help withlumbar disc bulge exercises.
If you work at a computer, try to view your screen with a straight neck. This means putting your screen at a comfortable viewing height. We tend to look down at laptop screens, so you may want to evaluate your computer to combat this habit.
After you have found the best height for your screen, make sure it is sideways to a bright window. This will minimize eye strain from a glare and you don’t want your back to your screen because the incoming light will cause a glare on it. Also, you won’t be straining your neck and back to look away from a screen if it is too bright. If you have blue light glasses, make sure you wear those as well.
Also, don’t read from an iPad or papers that are flat on your desk or table to where you are constantly moving your head up and down. If you go back from a screen to reading material, use a vertical document holder or iPad stand to relieve this strain.
Since your computer is at a comfortable height in front of you, so should your keyboard. Your keyboard and mouse should be used with your forearms and hands level and straight. Also, your arm should be close to the side of your body when you use a mouse. You have nerves that leave your neck and run down your shoulder, elbow and wrist, so when your arm is at your side, the nerves aren’t compromised. The more you have to stretch, the greater chance there will be to strain your back, neck, or shoulder.
Other small tips are to make sure you sit back in your chair and limit the time you spend working in bed. Also try to limit the time you spend standing. Just following some of these tips at your home work environment can help you lessen your chance of injury.
Whether you’ve recently started working from home or you’re thinking about a home office revamp, there are some areas of efficiency you should be aware of. Piles of papers, tangled cords, and a faulty Internet connection are a few annoyances that could affect your work. Although working in your pajamas is luxurious, there are vital steps to take so your productivity is maintained. Here are several ways you can guarantee an efficient workspace.
There’s no need for filing cabinets anymore. With electronic organization you can scan your documents and upload them systematically so that it’ll take seconds to find a specific file. Make sure to invest in a high-powered shredder too. Once a document is digital, immediately run it through the shredder, to avoid messy paper stacks.
Some additional tips:
Encrypt all precious documents
Use Google Docs for anything you’ll share
Back-up all of your docs to a separate hard-drive every few months
2. Multiple Cord Streamlining
Kicking around tangled cords under your desk is irritating but trying to locate a specific cord is an absolute pain. Save yourself time and purchase some nifty cord devices.
USB hubs instantly wind up cords for orderly keeping.
Cordlets also keep cables in order by directing them exactly where you need them on your desk.
WAshi Tape allows you to label cords for quick identifying.
Quatro devices go into your wall and have four holes specifically designed for USB-charged gadgets. No need for electric adapters because you can now power up all of your USB devices directly to the wall.
Although you want a well-lit room, it’s important to keep blinds or shades closed to prevent distraction. Nothing is worse than neighbors constantly walking by your window or losing your train of thought by something going on outside. Consider purchasing window or roller shades so that you may remain focused on your work.
Outside noise can be disruptive, too. Solve this issue with some soothing music, earplugs, or sound proofing materials.
4. Multi-Tasking Communication
Clients and co-workers need your attention throughout the day. Though e-mail, G-Chat, and Skype are universal ways to communicate, some will want to reach you by phone or text. Here are a few cool products that’ll allow you to multitask with your phone.
Good Call IG1 Bluetooth Wireless Handset/Docking Station allows for all of the functionality of an iPhone while receiving a call through it.
Jawbone Jambox Wireless Bluetooth Speaker is excellent for its convenient size and phenomenal sound/volume.
Omnio WOW Keys let you type on your phone via a more standard keyboard. You can combine it with other apps and you can control your desktop by using it with your phone.
If you work from home you need a high-speed Internet connection. With options of DSL, cable, satellite, and wireless, you’ll want to choose a connection that best suits your needs. Typically, you should look for speeds of at least 384kbps/128kbps. To keep your Internet running quickly, you’ll want to regularly clear your history, perform malware tests, update your browsers, and shut down unnecessary programs.
Staying focused on your work can be far more difficult at home. From organizational systems to multi-tasking devices, it’s important to make sure your office is setting you up for success.
Carly Wright is an activist for fun! From technology and entertainment to travel and leisure she can write about it all. She encourages you to see her tweets @MostlyImWrite.
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly made the decision to ban telecommuting at the company after checking up on how many times remote workers were logging into the company’s network and discovering it wasn’t enough.
A recently released documentary shows Marissa Mayer criticizing feminism and explaining her own approach to women’s equality. Makers is a PBS/AOL documentary about the “women who make America”.
In the film Marissa Mayer says: “I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that, I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so, in a lot of different dimensions.
“But I don’t, I think, have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think feminism has become, in many ways, a more negative word.
“There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there’s more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.”
As Business Insider points out, women still earn less than men at every level of education, and women hold just 17% of senior management roles in the U.S.
It has also been revealed that Marissa Mayer banned working from home as she believed employees had being taking advantage of the benefit.
In a business meeting last week Marissa Mayer noted that workers had not been logging on enough, as reported by AllThingsD.
Marissa Mayer, who places huge emphasis on the analysis of metrics and data, had studied the records of Yahoo’s Virtual Private Network (or VPN) which remote workers use and found employees hadn’t been using it as frequently as expected.
This reportedly made up her mind on the telecommuting ban.
Marissa Mayer imposed Yahoo ban on working from home after spying on employee log-ins
Last week Michael Bloomberg weighed in on the debate over working from home, as the opinionated mayor came out in support of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer.
The billionaire businessman-turned-politician said that Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at her company was a smart one even though she came under a firestorm following the revelation that the new mom had a nursery built for her new son just prior to announcing the rule.
“I’ve always said, telecommuting is one of the dumber ideas I’ve ever heard,” Michael Bloomberg said during a radio interview on Friday.
“Yes, there are some things you can do at home. But having a chat line is not the same thing as standing at the water cooler. And standing at the water cooler is where you get a lot of ideas and information and it’s a euphemism for a lot of interpersonal dialogue,” Michael Bloomberg said according to NBC.
Marissa Mayer’s decision sparked an outcry from working mothers and other companies in Silicon Valley who blasted the hypocrisy of her banning the action but allowing herself an in-office space for her child.
Another big-name opponent was Virgin CEO Richard Branson who called the ban on working from home a “perplexing” decision.
“This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever,” he wrote in a post on his blog.
“If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.
“Working life isn’t 9-5 any more. The world is connected. Companies that do not embrace this are missing a trick.”
The Yahoo decision will only impact a small percentage of the company’s workforce, primarily customer service representatives or staffers who work in cities where Yahoo does not have an office.
But the internal announcement on Friday has ruffled feathers as many employees say the flexible work arrangement is a key part of their job and will have a significant impact on their personal lives.
Though Yahoo will not publicly comment on the internal matter, employees disclosed the new HR policy to AllThingsD co-executive editor Kara Swisher.
The move is described as harsh since it requires employees to “either comply without exception or presumably quit”.
“Many such staffers who wrote me today are angry, because they felt they were initially hired with the assumption that they could work more flexibly. Not so, as it turns out,” Kara Swisher wrote in a blog posting about the change expected to impact several hundred workers.
Yahoo! headquarters is located in Sunnyvale, California, near San Jose. The public corporation employs 11,500 people in more than 20 countries across the globe.
Marissa Mayer, a 37-year-old Silicon Valley whiz kid who was previously a big deal at Google before switching to the competition, was appointed the head of Yahoo in July 2012.
She instituted free lunches at the company headquarters and started giving out smartphones to employees.
“I want Yahoo to be the absolute best place to work, to have a fantastic culture. We’re working really hard right now to remind people about all the opportunities that are there,” Marissa Mayer said shortly after she was hired at a Fortune magazine event in November.
Yahoo has decided to ban its staff from “remote” working.
After years of many predicting working from home as the future for everybody, why is it not the norm?
When a memo from human resources dropped into the inbox of Yahoo staff banning them from working from home it prompted anger from many of its recipients.
“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings,” the memo said.
“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
The move to get staff back into the office from June this year is thought to have been driven by new chief executive Marissa Mayer, who herself returned to work weeks after giving birth.
Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, who spends much of his time working on Necker Island in the Caribbean, was quick to respond, calling it a “backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever”.
People in the West are constantly bombarded by news about technology that makes it easier to communicate with the office. Many have fast broadband and webcams that allow their faces to appear through the ether at any important meetings. They are surrounded by smartphones, laptops and tablets.
Everything is surely there to free them from the daily commute. Those in manufacturing or retail might always have to be present, but in an age when so many work in offices, why can’t they have their office space at home?
In the US, 24% of employed people report working from home at least some hours each week, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
But only 2.5% of the workforce (3.1 million people, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers) consider home their primary place of work, says the Telework Research Network.
The myth of working from home
Yahoo is not a lone voice in espousing the virtues of physically being in the office.
Only last week Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said when the company is asked how many people telecommute, their answer is “as few as possible”.
“There is something magical about sharing meals,” Patrick Pichette explained.
“There is something magical about spending the time together, about noodling on ideas, about asking at the computer <<What do you think of this?>>”
Google workers are provided with a free Wi-Fi-enabled bus in to the HQ.
Marissa Mayer, of course, is a former Google executive.
There are obvious reasons why working from home has not proliferated in the way people thought it might. There is still ingrained cultural antipathy.
Not “being seen in the office” may affect a person’s chances of promotion, result in a smaller pay rise than office-based peers and lower performance evaluations, according to research by the London Business School and the University of California.
They stress the continuing importance of so-called “passive face time” that is being in the office, regardless of what someone is doing.
The additional pressure not to be perceived as “skiving” may drive those who do work from home to exceed their hours.
Prof. Jennifer Glass, co-author of a report on the US workforce published by the University of Texas at Austin, says for many people, especially those in their 30s and 40s, teleworking is part of their work after they have already done 40 hours in the office.
Jennifer Glass was “flabbergasted” by the Yahoo memo.
“This seems to be trying to bring Yahoo in line with corporate America, not high-tech industries,” she says.
“The idea that this is going to promote more innovation seems bizarre.”
Promoting the value of interactions in hallways and canteen seems strange at a time when face-to-face contact within the office is decreasing.
“I frequently email someone without getting up to see if they are there,” Jennifer Glass notes.
Managers can be biased in favor of those they can actually see working.
“There is this attitude that managers need to see people are close by and that those workers are more productive,” says Jennifer Glass.
“It is a natural tendency to want to control things.”
For Alan Denbigh, co-author of The Teleworking Handbook and former executive director of the Telework Association, there are proven benefits of home working.
“It gives you the opportunity to get on with a particular project and for those who are bringing up small families where it is imperative to have a degree of flexibility it works.”
Having done both he does not recommend working from home exclusively, recognizing the benefits of interacting with people in the office and the pitfalls of working long hours at home to keep up.
But he says it is “equally ridiculous” to feel you have to be at the office every day. He recommends a bit of both.
“A large corporation saying you can’t work at home, especially an IT based company, seems counter-productive. You have to treat people as grown-ups.”