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Working from home self assessment

While you are working from home, you should consider the risks around you just as you would when working in an office environment.

This guidance helps you to identify any issues with your work environment and/or daily routine that may affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

What you must do

If you are working from home, please read steps 1 and 2 below to help you identify any issues. Then complete the self assessment.

Step 1 - Your work environment

On the surface, working from home doesn't seem to present many risks to health and safety. You're familiar with the environment, you know how the equipment works and you know your way around the premises. But that doesn't mean you're free from risk.

The potential hazards and injuries are:

  • musculosketal injuries due to poor posture and lack of personal responsibility
  • data protection breaches
  • slips, trips and falls for you and other members of your household

Set up your work station

Do:

  • find an appropriate place to work, preferably away from the TV (bedrooms are not really ideal for working)
  • work from a suitable desk or table, such as a dining room table
  • use a chair that is comfortable and has a back rest. Adjustable chairs are ideal. For more lumbar support, place a cushion or rolled up towel behind you
  • make sure your elbows and forearms are level with the desk surface and your shoulders are down and relaxed. You can correct this by adjusting your chair height or propping yourself up with extra cushions
  • keep your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees slightly lower than your hips. If you can't reach the floor with your feet put them on a footrest or a box
  • use a separate keyboard and mouse when using a laptop for prolonged periods of time. Keep your keyboard and mouse close to the edge of your work surface to avoid unnecessary stretching
  • make sure you can look straight ahead at your screen. Use a laptop stand to raise the screen to eye level. Ideally your screen should be an arms length away from you
  • use a separate keyboard and mouse when working on your laptop for prolonged periods of time

Don't:

  • forget to give your eyes a break. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds
  • shrug your shoulders when typing and using your mouse. You can lower your work surface or adjust your chair height to avoid this
Protect sensitive information

Do:

  • choose an area to work where you can maintain confidentiality, away from others, when dealing with sensitive information

Don't:

  • hold confidential meetings or conversations in front of other household members
Check your workspace

Do:

  • try to create a workspace away from your living space to reduce noise distraction
  • choose an area with good lighting. Add a lamp to your desk if you need to increase light levels
  • position your laptop or monitor to avoid reflections on your screen. Consider adjusting the brightness or contrast or pulling blinds across windows
  • consider air quality. Let fresh air in, clean windows, your work surface and equipment regularly to avoid dust build up
  • create a good atmosphere around your work area including natural light, plants and artwork. Increasing the connection to nature around your work area improves productivity

Don't:

  • have computer leads trailing across the room as they can be a trip hazard, especially if you have young children
  • get too hot or cold while you are working. If you are feeling cold you may not be moving regularly enough. When you're too warm you can be uncomfortable and tire more quickly

Step 2 - Your wellbeing

Your health and wellbeing could be at risk while you are working from home, especially as the way we work and interact with others has changed recently.

The potential hazards are:

  • compromising your health and wellbeing
  • poor work life balance
  • fatigue
  • social isolation

Look after yourself

At work you automatically take regular breaks from your screen to answer questions from colleagues, go to meetings or a take a trip to grab a coffee so make sure you do the same at home.

Do:

  • get up every 25 minutes or so and have a stretch, breathe or go outside and get some fresh air, which is vital for physical and mental wellbeing
  • remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water

Don't:

  • sit still in the same position for long periods of time. It's not good for your posture or concentration
  • forget to take a proper lunch break, ideally away from your workstation. You'll work better if your well nourished and hydrated
Create a routine

You can benefit significantly from creating or changing your normal routine. This can enable you to be productive and deliver quality work despite the challenges of adapting to a new way of working.

Do:

  • think about how you can carry on your normal routines, and try to do things that are useful or meaningful
  • stick to the same sleep schedule - this will help you be as productive as possible while working
  • maintain a healthy balance between work and life, especially if you are home schooling children while continuing to work from home
  • create new routines and set yourself goals. You could set a new alarm for the morning and plan in activities you enjoy, such as daily home workouts, cooking, reading or watching your favourite TV programme

Don't:

  • stay glued to the news and social media
Establish a work plan

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with all you have to do. Establish a work plan to organise your day, achieve deadlines and keep yourself on track.

Do:

  • outline a set of tasks that you need to complete
  • prioritise the most important tasks to keep organised. This will help you feel a sense of achievement at the end of the day
  • be sensible and stop when it's time to finish working
  • take regular breaks including lunch and exercise

Don't:

  • work excessive hours
  • forget to call on work colleagues for help as you would in an office environment
Communicate and connect with others

Communication with your friends, family and work colleagues is key for your mental wellbeing particularly at the moment.

Do:

  • think about how you can maintain healthy relationships with work colleagues, friends and family while you are at home
  • use a variety of methods to stay in touch. This may be by video call, text messaging, WhatsApp, telephone calls, email or group chat platforms, such as Microsoft Teams
  • think about or discuss with other household members, what challenges you might face if you all need to stay at home or someone becomes symptomatic

Don't:

  • forget to check in with colleagues who you know live on their own. Working from home can be socially isolating and difficult for everyone
  • be afraid to ask for help and support

Step 3 - The assessment

Now you have read through the guidance, you need to fill in the online working from home self assessment form. This includes a number of questions about:

  • your working environment and workplace set up
  • your wellbeing
  • whether working form home could be a data protection risk due to the sensitive nature of your work

Fill in the working from home assessment form

Can't access the online assessment?

If you work in a school you may not be able to access the online form. Please complete the assessment form below and return it to your line manager.

Health and wellbeing assessment for working from home

Step 4 - What happens next

Once you have submitted your form, your line manager will review it. They will then discuss any concerns you have and work with you to resolve or minimise them. This could include:

  • the collection or ordering of extra equipment, such as a keyboard or laptop stand
  • an increase in contact between you and your manager
  • amends to your work pattern

Other useful tips

Get up as normal

Try to get up as normal and start your day with some breakfast.

Get washed and dressed as if you are heading into work. This will help you get into the right mindset for the day ahead.

Use your commute time

For many of us, whether travelling on public transport or by bike, car or on foot, the daily commute is often a bit of time we get to ourselves. Whether it's for reflective thinking or chatting with friends, make sure you don't miss out on this.

Schedule some 'commute time' to read a book, call one of your regular travel companions or take your daily exercise.

Share completed work with others

Make sure you connect with your colleagues and let them know what you've been working on. Particularly when you have finished a piece of work.

Not only will your achievements be recognised by your team, including your managers, but by sharing your work, it will give others ideas and motivation to complete theirs too.

Share your routine with others

When you are working from home, sometimes it is hard for the people around you to realise that you need to work, and they expect you to be available to them for the things you would usually do when you are at home.

Make sure you share your routine with your family, including your children, and your friends so they know when you are available to spend time with them. Also set any boundaries.

Explain to your children that you are working and you're not at home because you are on leave from work. The more they see you working, the more they'll understand.

Also make sure colleagues are aware of your working pattern so they know when you might not be available to answer questions, have meetings and so on.

Plan in advance

Work out how you can get any household supplies you need. You could try asking neighbours, family and friends or find a delivery service.

If you need regular medicine, you might be able to order repeat prescriptions by phone or online via a website or app. You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medicine delivered or ask someone else to collect it for you.

Look after your body and mind

Our physical health really affects how we feel. Try to make sure you and your family eat healthy, well balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly.

Keep your mind active. Read, write, play games, do crosswords, complete Sudoku puzzles, finish jigsaws or try drawing and painting. Whatever it is, find something that works for you.

Get outside for a walk, a run or bike ride if you can - in line with Government guidelines - or try online home workout videos.

There are lots of useful resources for mental and physical wellbeing on our health and wellbeing page.

Stay informed

You could set yourself a specific time to read updates about coronavirus or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day.

Use trustworthy sources, such as GOV.UK or the NHS website and fact check information from the news, social media or other people

The council will also stay in contact with staff by regularly updating our coronavirus intranet page with latest information, via global emails and keeping the public up to date with changes to council services via the corporate website.

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