How to prepare a (real) home-office

Pandemia Global

Opinion article by Ângela Santos, Board Member of Ábaco Consulting, for RH Magazine: [PT Only]


What was once uncommon for many companies, has now become an urgent need in the face of the global situation. With the rapid growth of the new coronavirus pandemic, the professional routine of companies and their respective employees was changed overnight, in several countries around the world, in order to minimize contagion.

Although home offices are increasingly seen as a trend, the need to stay at home, encouraged by the COVID-19 crisis, has accelerated the adaptation process. If, on the one hand, this pandemic is reshaping business models and widespread remote work, on the other hand, there are important precautions to be taken.

In view of the atypical conditions that we live in, we increasingly realize that we will not be returning to “normal” anytime soon and it is very likely that we will have to intersect “normal” life with periods of social withdrawal, since remote work has now become in a reality that is here to stay. Thus, in the face of the new normal, now known as this, we will have to start incorporating new habits and learn to live with a virus that has come to stay for some time.

Thus, it is essential that organizations encourage their Employees to prepare their home offices by following some recommendations in order to maximize their productivity and efficiency. These recommendations should be seen as new rules on health and safety at work, policies, rules and internal procedures, which they must seek to comply with, namely:

  1. Define the work space and create rules with the family: This is one of the most important measures, in which you must choose the best place, in your home, to work and face it as if you were in the office and prepare it to be in this long-term situation. Try to understand if you can work in isolation, especially when you have a conf call.
  2. Equipment: It is essential that each employee has at their disposal all the equipment they need to make the space not only functional, but also “ergonomic”. In addition to a good internet connection and communication software between teams and clients, it is essential to try to use a monitor to improve cervical posture and not to tire your eyes so much, to work with a mouse and with your wrists well supported (if possible, a keyboard), and something that is often identified as unimportant, but which is fundamental, is the chair that is used. This should allow for correct posture and be comfortable. There are companies that have made their office chairs available to their employees to help with this home office set up.
  3. Pauses: There is a set of very simple exercises, which can be done even in the chair where you are working, although it is preferable to get up periodically (every hour, at least once). It is important to give your body and eyes rest. Pauses can be used to do the exercises or for small tasks.
  4. Hygiene and clothing routines: Comply with the normal routines of face-to-face work in relation to clothing and hygiene. At this point, discipline is necessary, it is important that you don’t stay in pajamas all day. In addition, when making conf calls, given this social isolation we are in (we want to shorten distances) and to improve communication (we know that being aware of non-verbal communication makes it more effective), it is preferable to turn on the camera (unless there are problems bandwidth). And if we are not presentable, the moment can become strange … The presentation can be perfectly informal, sporty, casual, comfortable.
  5. Working hours: It is as important as face-to-face hours and must be followed with the same rigor, as far as possible. In online communication tools, the correct attitude is to go online at the time of entry, and offline at the time of departure – or change the status accordingly. However, the departure time is one of the most important points and must be met with the same rigor as the arrival time, which, to be achieved, also requires a good planning of the day’s tasks. The temptation to continue working is dangerous and creates, more and more, a lack of definition of what is working hours and what is time to be at home with the family, which is not positive. When closing the computer, think about an activity at the end of the day, involving the family, or something more physical (a short walk …) to help our brain separate work from family and personal life. Previously it was the journey between home and the office that fulfilled this function.

In this context, the home office will continue to gain space in the job market, but that does not mean that common corporate environments cease to exist. The home office will be more of a work model option for the company and the employee, but it is essential to try as hard as possible to maintain a daily routine and incorporate some rules, otherwise we may think that we are being productive, but, quickly, it can become something negative, demotivating and extremely tiring.

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