Many people coming from traditional work environments have always left the safety to the OSHA experts and safety monitors. When working from home, safety falls on you.
While you may think of your home as a space safe, dangers exist. In today’s post, we’re sharing a few simple tips to bring down the risk factor.
1. Don’t Leave the Stove to Check Your Email
This is at the top of the list because I’m a repeat offender. Your computer is a rabbit hole, no matter how small the task is that you think is only going to take a few seconds. Before you know it, several minutes have passed and the smoke alarms are blaring. Don’t risk it. That one little thing can’t wait far longer than a pan of bacon.
And while we are speaking on this matter, when’s the last time you changed your smoke alarms’ batteries? Where is the closest fire extinguisher to your home office? What’s the expiration date on that extinguisher? Now that many people are working from home more frequently or permanently, it’s a good time to revisit these simple checkpoints that often escape our minds.
2. Update Your Antivirus Software
If your work-from-home job is providing customer service, there is a good chance your employer ran a test on your computer, or at least provided guidance, to ensure your equipment is well-protected from malware and viruses. If not, or if you are working in another industry, it’s a good idea to make sure your equipment is secure. You should also never click links in emails from unknown persons or download software from unknown sources.
3. Enable 2-Factor Authentication
Many online services today offer 2-Factor authentication, or 2FA. This means that when you are logging into your online account, not only is your username and password required, but you will also be required to provide a time sensitive code that may be texted to you or provided by an authenticator app. This is a worthwhile extra step in securing your online accounts.
4. Keep Your Space Clean
Many injury-related accidents happen in the home even during normal circumstances. Now that more people are home more of the time, that number can only increase.
Falls are among the most common causes of injuries in the home. While you may think it’s less of a concern now since if you get hurt you can just recover at home while still working from home, that doesn’t mean it may be any easier. If your remote job involves typing or heavy use of a mouse, consider the implications of hurting your wrist or breaking a finger.
Keep your office free from clutter. Make sure the walkways in your home are clear. Even a nighttime trip to the bathroom in the dark can result in a spill. Take some time at the end of each day to get things in order. And don’t leave the stove unattended.
You can lessen the chance of musculoskeletal disorders by fitting your workspace to you. While this is a service often provided in a corporate workspace, it can be overlooked – or overwhelming – when it becomes your responsibility as a remote worker. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
According to OSHA, musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, account for 33% of all worker injuries. That’s a lot! MSDs can include things like carpal tunnel, pinched nerves or herniated discs. These are all things you are susceptible to working from home.
Take some time to make sure your workspace setup is spine neutral and your line of sight is slightly below eye level. Make sure your wrists and arms aren’t strained when typing or using your mouse.
6. Prevent Isolation
The effects of isolation on many this past year have been devastating. There has not only been an increase in suicides, but also numerous other mental health challenges including trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD).
Isolation is a worry in the work-at-home world under the best of circumstances, some studies calculate the effects to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! It’s more important than ever that you make an effort to connect with others on a personal level. I’m not talking about social media which can cause a further downward spiral, I’m talking about reaching out to people you know in real life. People you care about but may have been separated from for a while.
Even the small things can make a big difference in your mental outlook:
- Start your morning sending a “Thinking of You” card to a loved one or friend.
- Call someone you know in long-term care. They would likely appreciate a familiar voice as well.
- Find out what activities are available in your community. Depending on your location, you may be surprised to find movie theaters, community centers, restaurants and more have opened with social distancing guidelines in place. If you are healthy, take advantage of the opportunity to get out of the house and away from the news and social media.
- Take a walk outdoors.
- Get a pet.
- Become an online volunteer – or in-person if available – for a local charity or organization.
- Connect with your local church to see if any socially-distanced or online support groups are available.
There are serious health implications for a sedentary lifestyle. It’s very easy to be inactive when working from home. There’s no one to hold you accountable. There are no coworker invites to walk at lunch. It’s easy to just sit.
You have to get moving. This could be as easy as a stroll around the neighborhood or an exercise class at your local gym. If the weather is bad, it’s still not an excuse. There are exercise apps for days. No equipment required in many cases! Just a few to check out:
- Peloton Digital
- Jillian Michaels’s My Fitness
- Daily Burn
Many of these also offer meditation or yoga classes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to relax and unwind as well.
8. Know Who You’re Talking To
During these trying times, scams have only been on the increase. This is especially true when it comes to imposters. They are not only waiting for you on your computer, but also your phone. You may receive calls from people saying they are everyone from the IRS to your local police department to charities. Inevitably, these people are looking for money. They may ask for a donation or try to convince you that you owe money and will be punished severely if you don’t pay now.
Take a step back. Tell them you will call them back. Not at a number they provide, look up the number for yourself. Call and ask if it truly is them calling.
9. Don’t Fall for Scams
Now is also a good time to refresh your memory of remote work red flags. We have a list of those here.