Self Employed

Managing Your Home Workspace

It’s worth investing in quality furniture and equipment so that working at home will be comfortable and convenient. If your work area will be on view to anyone visiting your home, you might want to choose furniture that will blend in with your surroundings and, perhaps, conceal the fact that it’s a work area. Good organization is essential otherwise you may waste valuable time trying to find things.

Make Yourself Comfortable

Working from home is a great idea, as long as it doesn’t eventually damage your physical or mental health because you are working in unsuitable conditions. You should have good lighting and ventilation at your workstation, adequate heating, freedom of movement, room to lay out your work, and suitable storage of papers, files, and work tools close at hand. You should also be able to conduct your work in safety and to guarantee the safety of the public who may visit your workplace.

If you have a room or area dedicated to your work, you need to think about the following:

General Conditions

Light

Working under constant electric light without any natural light has been found to promote headaches and depression. If you don’t have natural light, invest in some natural light spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight.

Ventilation

If you’re working in a room without a window that opens, you should consider a small air conditioner, or if it is, say, an attic investigate the possibility of installing a new window.

Heating

If a room is cold and damp, it will not only affect you but it will also certainly affect computers, photocopiers. and fax machines, as well as any papers you store. Your computer printer will not feed paper through unless it is completely dry. if you are working in an outbuilding, you will need to insulate it and install some form of heating.

Work Area

  • Make sure you have a large enough work surface. Computers and computer equipment, for example. take up a lot of room. Do you have desk space to lay papers down and to read or write?
  • Do you have enough shelving, filing cabinets, or storage -preferably actually in your work area, so that you can access everything easily? If you work with tools, make sure you have hooks or racks so that you can put the tools away when you have finished with them.
  • Make sure your work area is big enough. Can you move around it easily? Can you work without tripping over boxes of files on the floor, and can you open the door properly without it banging into your desk?
  • If your work surfaces are too high or too low, you may develop neck, shoulder, or back problems.
  • Similarly, you will need a well-designed, adjustable chair to work from.

Equipment

  • Do you have adequate power points for all your equipment?
  • Plugging everything into extension leads is a potential fire risk and trailing cables can cause accidents. Can cables be hidden away?
  • You’ll probably need a telephone point and extension in your work area. You might want a dedicated land phone number and perhaps a dedicated modem line.
  • It’s vital to have fire safety equipment handy. You’ll need to know what type of small fire extinguisher or fire blanket you need for any special pieces of equipment you have.
  • If your work involves preparing food or providing therapeutic treatment, do you know what you need to do in order to meet hygiene standards?

It is a good idea to separate your work from your home life as much as possible. Make it a rule not to take work out of your work area. If your work is going through a difficult patch, you’ll be able to lift your spirits simply by closing the door on your workspace.

Health And Computers

If you’re working from home, you’ll probably have a computer. The following points will help you use your computer safely.

  • Fit a glare filter to protect your eyes from glare and flickering.
  • Take a break from working at the computer every hour otherwise you risk getting headaches, eye strain, and posture problems.
  • Look up from your computer every 10-15 minutes and focus on the middle distance, to relieve eye strain.
  • Have regular eye tests.
  • Guard against repetitive strain injury (RSI), a condition in which prolonged performance or repetitive actions cause pain in tendons and muscles. Stop work if your hands and wrists start aching.
  • Ensure that your desk is at the right height so that you can work at your keyboard with relaxed shoulders, with your forearms straight at the wrist, parallel to the floor, and not resting on the keyboard or desk.
  • Sit at an adjustable chair when you’re working. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your thighs parallel to the floor or with your knees slightly below your hips.
  • Make sure that the screen is at the right height so that you’re not bending your neck backwards to look up at it, or bending to look down at it.
  • Try not to use the computer late at night or have it in your bedroom. Computers throw out powerful electromagnetic fields and can disrupt sleep patterns.

Taking Steps To Protect Your Work

Your working area at home should be well safeguarded.

  • Make sure you have sufficient security. If it’s known that you work from home, thieves may think you keep money there. You may need better locks, a security light, or perhaps an alarm system.
  • Protect any machinery from tampering or theft by fitting safety guards and keeping them locked away. Protect computers and peripherals with dust covers.
  • Make sure you’re not overloading power points. See Your electricity supply.
  • Keep relevant fire safety equipment close at hand.
  • Keep back-up copies of all work in a lockable fireproof filing cabinet in another area of the house.
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