At Wholegrain, our policy of flexible working means you can work at Somerset House as much as you wish, or work at another location of your choice for much of the time.
Wherever you decide to work, it’s important that you have a healthy working environment. Here are some hints and tips to help keep you healthy (and sane!) while you’re working.
Set up your desk mindfully: It’s recommended that your monitor should be level with your head, so you don’t strain your neck by looking down; if you’re working on a laptop, investing in a light foldable stand is a great idea. Your keyboard and mouse should be close together, and your arms should have a 90-degree bend at the elbow.
Your chair should be adjustable with a comfortable seat, armrests, and lumbar support (to support the curve of your lower back).
This video gives you some tips, but bear in mind that what works for one person may leave another in discomfort. Use the video as a starting point, but if something feels uncomfortable, change it. Be open to experimenting until you’ve found the right set-up for your needs.
Standing desks make a great alternative and are a very healthy way to work, as long as you follow the same rules for the position of your monitor and arms. If you have the space, try alternating between the two.
If you need any special equipment for your home or office workspace, please ask us.
Avoid eyestrain: Ensure you always work in a well-lit area; natural light is best. Adjust your font size and screen brightness so you’re not squinting at your screen; using a program like Flux is great as it adjusts your screen to suit your surroundings. And if you need glasses when using a computer, please make sure you wear them.
The UK Health & Safety Executive recommends taking short, frequent breaks to rest your eyes when working on a screen, ideally 5 to 10 minutes within each 50-60 minute period. The Pomodoro Technique is fantastic for short, focused periods of work, broken up with short breaks. There are plenty of apps you can use, many of which are featured in this article.
Get outside: Taking regular exercise is universally acknowledged to improve your mental health, boost your focus, and enhance your concentration. When you’re sat at a desk for large chunks of the day, it’s important to take the time to step away and head outside for some fresh air and exercise. This can be as simple as a 15-minute walk around the block, but it’ll do you the power of good.
Eat & drink well: What you eat and drink has a huge influence over your mood and your focus and concentration. Stay well hydrated at all times; not drinking enough can make it difficult to think clearly. You should aim to drink at least two pints of water daily, though herbal and green teas and diluted fruit juice (without too much added sugar) also work well.
If your blood sugar drops through lack of food, you could be left feeling tired, irritable and depressed. Start your day with a healthy breakfast and eat healthy, slow-release foods throughout the day (avoid sugary stuff that makes your blood levels rise and fall dramatically). Make sure you get your five a day (as a minimum) and boost your brainpower with fatty oils (omega-3 and -6) found in nuts, olive oil, seeds and avocados.
Get enough sleep: Sleep plays a vital role in your health and wellbeing. We won’t tell you how many hours to sleep each night – that differs for each person and we’re not your mother! – but make sure you get enough sleep so you can function properly. Also, try switching off from your devices an hour or so before bed to allow your brain to prepare for sleep.
Support each other: When we’re working remotely for much of the time, it can sometimes be difficult to see if another team member is struggling. If you have a personal issue, do reach out to us or another team member for support. Likewise, if you’re struggling with your work, don’t try to push on alone; ask for help and support as early as possible so we have time to help you solve the problem.
In general, keep an eye on your fellow team members and support each other to ensure we all enjoy positive physical and mental health.
Enjoy proper downtime: Everybody needs proper downtime. It’s all too easy for work time and personal time to merge, especially when you work from home. But managing your time properly and walking away from your screen when you’re finished for the day is essential for your wellbeing. Switch off, relax, and stop checking work emails (if something really essential crops up, we’ve got your number so we can call you).
On the same note, please make sure that you take and enjoy all your annual leave. All full-time employees get 30 days holiday each year, which is pro-rated if you work part-time. So that’s 30 days each year when you should be downing tools, stepping away from your computers, and enjoying some proper R&R.
Finally, we’re all individuals and we all function in different ways. Only you truly know what’s works for you, so listen to your body and always do what feels right for you.
If you need advice, support, tools or equipment to help ensure you have a healthy working environment, have a chat with our People and Office Manager, or one of the Directors. Likewise, if you have any health conditions that might be impacted by your work or that may impact on your work, let us know so we can work with you and support you to maximise your health and wellbeing.