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Working From Home

We understand that due to COVID-19 many colleagues will be working from home, or preparing to work from home. Therefore, it’s vital that you are aware of the information that will help you to make this transition as easy and safely as possible.

Preparation

It’s important that you are able to access all files and equipment when working from home. Our IT Services page provides information to get you prepared. This includes how to get access to programmes, using Remote Working on our IT Self-Service Portal, and how to get in touch with IT Services. Please be aware, IT Services are extremely busy at the moment, so please check this page first, or ask a colleague in your team who may know the answer to your question, before contacting the IT Services Helpdesk. If you can help your team at all with any information, then sharing it over Skype or Microsoft Teams is a great way to reduce the workload from other colleagues.

Creating a safe and healthy environment at home

The health and safety of colleagues who are temporarily working from home is of importance to us. This abridged version of the Leeds Beckett University risk assessment for Home Working provides a checklist of factors to be aware of:

  • be mindful of how to handle heavy items at home (exam papers, stationery, quantities of photocopying, filing etc)
  • individuals with health conditions, previous back injuries, new and expectant mothers, etc, should assess the need for handling items
  • be mindful of posture when setting up and using a laptop
  • ensure that sufficient/frequent short breaks are taken to avoid prolonged periods without change of posture
  • ensure your working environment is free from hazards such as trailing cables
  • visually check any electrical cables or items to ensure they are free from obvious defects such as cuts/damage
  • it is a mutual responsibility of the manager and team member to ensure regular contact is maintained
  • as far as practicably possible, managers have a duty to ensure that remote workers do not contravene the Working Time Regulations and colleagues should report any concerns about excessive working hours to their manager

You should let your manager know if you experience issues relating to your health and safety when working from home.

Safety and security of LBU information, systems and equipment

  • ensure that work is not viewed by others at home
  • store any sensitive information securely at home

If you have any concerns about your home working environment, please contact your manager.

Helpful tips for working from home

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a. Waking up: Although you may have some extra time in bed without a commute, aim to wake up around the same time every day. This helps stabilise your internal clock and improve your sleep overall. You’ll feel less tired, more refreshed, and find it easier to concentrate throughout the day. 

b. Getting ready: Keep to your established morning routine if you can – get ready, washed, and dressed as if you are going to the office. This will help you get into the mindset that you are at work. 

c. Setting up your workspace: Try to set aside a work area separate from your sleeping area.  This will help to prepare you for work mode and make it easier to switch off at the end of the day. You don’t need a home office to do this – a small desk set up in a corner of your room, or a laptop at the end of the kitchen table can do the trick. If you’re working with a small space, you could try setting up temporary ‘zones’ by hanging blankets or screens to visually separate your work area from your bed or living area. Clear your work surface of clutter and set up your equipment to avoid physical strain – do a self-check using the NHS guidance. If you don’t have a chair with back support, you could add a firm pillow.

Plus Icon Get Moving

a. Outside: If you’re not self-isolating, try going for a walk or a jog down the street before you start work for the day – this can help you to feel like you have mentally ‘arrived’ at work. Doing the same when you finish your working day can help you to leave your work mindset behind and switch off. 

b. Indoors: If you’re indoors, look online for an activity that suits you, such as a home yoga video or a fitness class. Some gyms are now live streaming their classes, so you could even join a fitness community in your local area.  No matter what exercise you choose, try to take regular screen breaks and stretch throughout the day. Try to take a clearly defined lunch break and move away from your workspace. 

Whether you are new to home working or it is a regular part of your working routine, it is important to ensure you take care of your posture when working away from your usual workstation. Building in breaks away from your screen, changing from sitting to standing and stretching are all ways that you can help to look after yourself. Below are some handy tips.

Workstation exercises

Active working pattern

Neck and shoulder stretches

Home work stations – helpful hints to avoid discomfort

Plus Icon Get Connected

a. Adapt your working style: Make sure you keep communication open with your team, as often and frequently as possible. Senior leaders should role model healthy working from home habits and behaviours. 

Here are some suggestions that we are trying:

  • Video calls instead of emailing
  • Short check-in and check-out calls between managers and their teams, at the start and end of the workday
  • Optional Q&A sessions for colleagues to dial in and chat through any concerns or queries they have about working from home

b. Virtual social sessions: If you usually schedule time in the workday for an activity or exercising with your colleagues, continue to make time for this over webcam or phone. Here are some ideas that members of the MHFA England team enjoy:

  • Turning your morning or afternoon coffee break into a virtual coffee break
  • Sharing photo updates of your lunchtime run
  • Video calling for an afternoon craft session
  • Daily online quiz session
  • Say hello - if you’re working on the same document as another team member in the cloud, stop and say hello to each other.

Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing

These challenging times can increase our levels of worry and stress. It can be normal to feel that things are difficult or overwhelming, so it is important to look after your mental health and wellbeing. The university has lots of support and advice on how to do this.

For ourselves and anyone you care about, Mind have shared a guide for looking after our mental health during these challenging times, and in the event that we and/or our family members have to self-isolate:

You and your family can also contact the Health Assured Service by calling the confidential helpline on 0800 030 5182 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or you can access information through the online portal. To log in you will need to use your username: leedsbeckett and password: university.

For more Wellbeing resources for managers and colleagues, please visit the Wellbeing home page on our People & OD website.

Download the MHFA Working From Home Guide PDF

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