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For those working from home, have worked from home - what are your top tips?

GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
edited October 2020 in Coffee lounge
Working from can be satisfying, but it can also come with its own challenges.

For many the transition to being forced to work from home, already 6 or 7 months and will likely last another 6 months it has been a mixture of blessings and curses. So what are your top tips for making working from home work for you?

With the onset of winter I have finally got round to getting the last piece of equipment to making life comfortable working from home, and no it is not a divorce though my wife would probably argue it would make her life more comfortable. Instead I opted for a standing lamp with a goose neck to light up my work area. It has 5 colour modes, three within the natural light range, and four levels of brightness. Mainly so I can set it to my own comfort level, but also it means when I finish it can be set to something more comfortable for reading, whatching tv or just relaxing while listening to music.

One benefit I did not expect was to have fewer headaches.

What has worked well for you, or just as important what has not?

As an individual I stood alone.
As a member of a group I did things.
As part of a community I helped to create change!



  • RAwarriorRAwarrior Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Hi @Geoark,

    Thank you for starting this thread as I think it’s a very important subject.

    I think that ensuring that you have the correct equipment is essential including a proper desk and a chair especially if someone has joint problems. 

    I have had a lot of difficulty in trying to get these items as reasonable adjustments which wasn’t helped by some of my able bodied colleagues using unsuitable furniture so I was expected to do the same.

    I like your suggestion about the lamp😀

    I also think taking regular breaks and setting a timetable is important in order to achieve the correct work/life balance. 

    I hope this helps😀
  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @RAwarrior

    I think you are 100% correct that the right equipment is essential and one I know which has affected many of my colleagues.

    As part of the process of when I applied for my current role a number of adjustments were made as part of my contract. I normally work condensed hours Tuesday to Friday, giving me three days off allowing time to recover mentally and physically and it was also agreed during periods when my sciatica is really bad that I can work from home.

    As a result I had the luxury of taking my time to put together the most comfortable work station at home I could afford. As my wife pointed out when I bought the lamp I have spent nearly £1000 on it. She was not impressed when I said yeah, but work are paying for this :D By far the most expensive piece is the seat, close to £300. Work would have paid for some of the other stuff but I opted for items above the basic standard which work better for me. For example because of issues in my right hand I tend to press the right mouse button without meaning too, I have a mouse which allows me to tilt my hand which reduces this problem. Similarly with my keyboard, because I learned to type on a typewriter I prefer the mechanical feel when I type and the way the front drops helps to maintain the correct position for my hands when typing.

    Pretty much the same with monitors, because we need two to work and I prefer to have these mounted on a pole, but then it was worth getting a hub. Switching from the work laptop to my personal laptop is done by switching over a usb cable rather than several cables. I also have two different sized monitors, the larger one I usually use for spreadsheets, and when reading complicated documents the other is set so I can turn it and read the whole page without having to scroll all the time. A huge bonus when reading a long complicated legal document.

    I have been told more than once I must be mad, but as I said part of the contract gives me the right to work from home when I am in the most pain but still capable of working, so why would I not try to ensure that I would be as comfortable as possible? Also most of it was paid for out of my annual bonuses. I could have pushed for my employer to pay for more, I see it as investing in myself, without having to jump through hoops to get what is right for me. If at some stage I move on then equipment belongs to me and not the company.

    Now there is a possibility that working from home on a more permanent basis could become a reality I am in a much better position to make the most of it.

    I do have to give a huge thumbs up to my manager. She has a good understanding of the needs of individual members of her team and fights hard to help them get what they need. I was taken on through a scheme aimed at disabled people, she is the first manager I have had that fully understands this and is committed to equality. As a result my time off for sickness dropped rapidly in my first year with her, has continued to reduce and currently 9 months without a day off for sickness. While I always do my best for my employer, she is strangely the one who has got the most out of me - go figure. Wish there were more bosses like her.

    The work life balance is something I need to work on, as I've mentioned elsewhere. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,653 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Geoark, here is an article I wrote back in March.
    • Routine is key
    • To-do lists are your new best friend
    • Break things up
    • Headphones and music
    • Keep boundaries
    • Get outside
    • Keep in touch with colleagues
    Read more: A Survival Guide for Homeworking

    Hope this is helpful. :)

  • 66Mustang66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,053 Disability Gamechanger
    I have no experience of working so no experience of working from home but I do have experience of studying from home.

    Something I always wondered is why students often sit in coffee shops for hours with their laptop doing work and whether it is easier to study in a coffee shop environment than where you are living. And if this is the case, would going to a coffee shop work while working from home as well?
  • RAwarriorRAwarrior Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Hi @Geoark,

    I hate to say this but I am really envious of you and I will try to explain why. 

    I think it’s brilliant that you have such a supportive employer who does seem to care about disabled people. I was really shocked to read your post because the experience I have had has been the complete opposite of what you have described😞

    I am genuinely pleased for you😀

    I am disabled with Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. I am likely to be covered by the Equality Act 2010. 

    However, I had a terrible experience when trying to start working from home when I needed the basic equipment to work from home because my employer expected me to use unsuitable furniture despite my disabilities. One of the reasons that was cited was “because others are using the furniture they already have” These people are not disabled and what others choose to do has no bearing on my situation. 

    I was in the shielding group so it is better that I work from home. 

    To cut a very long story short, I ended up buying and paying for the equipment I needed because the stress of arguing over the cost (which was nowhere near the figures you mention) wasn’t worth it so I just bought what I needed out of my own pocket. 

    However, I am really pleased for you because your employer has been supportive and clearly understands what they need to do to assist you. I am glad that employers who do actually care about disabled staff do exist.

    Thank you again for starting this thread as you raised some very important issues. 

    I think this will be a very useful thread because people on here can hopefully support each other especially as we don’t know how long this situation will continue for😀

    Thank you to @Chloe_Scope for sharing your tips for working from home😁
  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @RAwarrior, to be frank I know I have been extremely lucky with my current manager. 

    I had a long battle with the health and safety team at work to keep the raised desk I bought out of my own pocket. After getting HR involved it was agreed that I could keep it based on a local agreement with my manager, which did not create a precedent. 

    Sadly I think a lot of it has to do more with ignorance than outright malice or prejudice. This in part has a lot to do with the training managers get as well. We can hope, I suppose, with more disabled people entering the work force that companies will learn. Even if it comes from hefty fines because they have been found guilty of discrimination. 

    I hope things start working for you soon.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Chloe_Scope,

    Most people I knew before the pandemic who worked from home were self employed, and it was a choice on their part. I would assume that some thought would also have been given to how they will manage their work area. For a lot of people now it is probably not an option they had seriously considered before. On top of which when the lock down came in many had children at home, or other responsibilities. 

    One of the best pieces of advice coming from the top down is to 'be kind to yourself'. We all, disabled or not, have good days and bad days at work, and under the current climate where tensions are heightened about various things it is easy to be unnecessarily  hard on yourself. For example I know members of my team are getting frustrated with access issues, either through their own internet or with connections to the work servers. Including one colleague who completely lost his connection and could not work out why, to find his young son had turned the router off because mum wanted to watch the Disney channel and he did not.

    When talking to colleagues in other teams I always take the time to ask how they are doing and coping.

    One of the best things about people working from home, as far as I'm concerned, is seeing their pets and family during video calls. It always makes me smile, especially with interviews on tv. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • RAwarriorRAwarrior Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Hi @Geoark,

    Thank you for your reply and your support😁

    I am surprised that your employer queried a desk which you obviously bought because it was suitable for you and you paid for it yourself.

    As I said I got so stressed about being asked to use unsuitable furniture which included a folding table! I know where everything that I would have had to put on it would have ended up as soon as I started typing.. on the floor.

    In my case I was made to feel inadequate and a nuisance because I cannot work in the same way as people who are abled bodied. 

    The climate in some workplaces means that people like me are just a nuisance.
    I have had a lot of problems previously  at work and in my case I believe it was malicious😞

    I have worked for many years and I have been disabled for several years so my disabilities are not something that my employer isn’t aware of. Unfortunately I have had a really bad experience which has impacted on my health😞

    I am really glad that you have had the correct support from your employer. 

    It’s also good to hear that you ask about the wellbeing of your colleagues😁 
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 1,651 Listener
    Unless you're using it for work, take the landline phone off the hook and/or turn your mobile off.

    Less distractions.

    Also, set the kids up on the Xbox, Playstation or whatever then they're out of the way for a bit.

  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger

    Sorry I thought I had responded to your last post. The desk thing is not hard to understand, we work in large open office and do not have a desk but have to 'hot desk' or pick a desk when you get there and use it. As we are one of the few teams to regularly use 2 screens we have a designated area. However it means when I'm not there it is more cumbersome for someone trying to use it. The idea being that not everyone is in work at the same time and so they don't need to provide so many desks and terminals. Eventually it was agreed to let me keep it as a local agreement with my manager so it did not set a precedent.

    To be clear on one thing, it is your employer who is inadequate, not you. Your employer has a duty to provide a suitable work environment and this includes things like desks and chairs. For many years I heard equality being related to treating everyone the same, something I did not buy into even when I was fit and healthy, though at times was not sure why. Over time with some very good managers I have learned why, because not everyone is the same and in short if you do not treat people as individuals then you are not respecting them. 

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • GeoarkGeoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,375 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @MrAllen1976

    We don't have a landline and for various reasons I have to keep my mobile on.That said I only answer it for a very small number of people.

    Certainly for those with kids I can imagine will be a huge issue to keep busy while working, any suggestions anyone?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • RAwarriorRAwarrior Member Posts: 430 Pioneering
    Hi @Geoark,

    Thank you for reply and your support😁

    In an ideal world people like me would be treated as an individual but in my case I get compared to able bodied colleagues. 

    I am just inconvenience and a nuisance because I insisted on having the correct equipment which I ended up paying for myself anyway which is a ridiculous situation. 

    I didn’t purchase very expensive equipment but I purchased items which I thought would be suitable. If I hadn’t  bought the items myself I would have been expected to use a cheap folding table as a desk😞

    I am afraid that as a society many employers have a long way to go before they actually try to help disabled staff. 

    I appreciate that in many cases working from home was introduced as part of the Covid 19 pandemic but I don’t think it’s an excuse to treat disabled people unfairly. Many people don’t use the correct equipment and it’s their choice but can make it very difficult for someone like me when they ask to be provided with basic equipment. The attitude is well if others can sit at their kitchen or dining room table so can I. 
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