Texas Tech University

Working from Home

Working from home may be a dream for some and a nightmare for others; regardless of where you are on this spectrum or why your are working from home, there are some important health & safety guidelines to consider when you find yourself in this situation.

Physical & Mental Wellness

1.  Set your work station up for success.

Don't ignore discomfort; check out our handout on ergonomics for remote work.  Make sure monitor height & distance and chair position are optimum to minimize the impact of environmental change on your productivity.  If you feel strain, change your posture adjust your screens, etc.  It is also important that the area has adequate lighting to reduce eye strain.  

Keeping this space clear of clutter can help you stay focused.  Sleep specialists often advise that it is best to refrain from other activities in your bed so your brain associates your bed with sleep; likewise, setting up your workspace in an intention manner in a dedicated space helps your mind get into "work mode." 

2.  MOVE.

There is no shortage of science on the importance of physical activity.  Make a point to go outside for a quick walk, do some yoga or spend a few minutes stretching.  Not only is this a great way to give your body a break from the desk, it gives your mind a break and can give you an emotional lift too. 

3.  Maintain a routine and Work-Life balance.

Humans are creatures of habit; disruptions in our routine can really wreck havoc on our emotional health.  Maintaining our routine can help you to take back control.  This is especially important for those with children.  Get up and get dressed just like you would if you were going to the office.  Not only will this help you mentally prepare for work; maintaining your routine will also help you manage your work-life balance.

 Working from home should not mean you are working more.  Having a routine helps you create time boundaries for work and life.  Some may have a tendency to overwork to show they aren't slacking.  Or work when they normally wouldn't be, such as during their time of commute.  On the other hand, being at home may lend itself to other distractions and interruptions - we all have dishes and laundry.  Manage these responsibly.  Establishing and communicating clear expectations can help workers and supervisors navigate remote work successfully.  

 4.  Take breaks.

You naturally take breaks at the office; they may be scheduled or just random conversations with co-workers.  This shouldn't change with remote work.  Getting away from the screen for 10 minutes every so often gives your eyes and mind a break; these breaks actually increase your productivity.  Use this time to address the laundry that needs to be switched, do some mindfulness or meditation, fit a quick walk in, or do some journaling.

5.  Use video chat and keep communication lines open.

Humans are social creatures.  Regular contact with colleagues can help prevent feelings of loneliness, isolation, anxiety or depression and also help prevent sleeping problems.  A great way to maintain connection with colleagues is to schedule coffee breaks and enjoy random conversation or catch up just as you would at the office. 

Remember, electronic communication is great for somethings - but not everything.  Being able to see others allows us to pick up on social cues (body language and tone) that we would miss otherwise; physically being able to see others also helps us feel more connected and less isolated.  

 Safety & Security at Home

1.  Electrical Safety

To prevent fires, circuit overload and electrical damage, it is important to adhere to the same requirements for electrical and fire safety that we do at work.

  • Make sure workstations are used correctly and that cords and plugs to all equipment are in good condition. 
  • Avoid using extension cords as a permanent power source.
  • Do not "daisy chain" power strips together (connecting power strips to one another).
  • Make sure outlets are grounded and not overloaded.
  • Use surge protection for electrical equipment.

2.  Slips, trips, and falls

You may have to do some rearranging to set up your workspace or have new items in unfamiliar locations.  Use the tips below to help you identify these hazards in your home.

  • Secure floor coverings (rugs, carpets etc.)
  • Make sure that electrical cords and cables are out of the way or secured/taped in place if moving them is not an option.
  • Store large items on or near the ground
  • Keep walkways clear and free of clutter

3.  Document, Data, Electronic, and Equipment Security

 The IT division has a website dedicated to cyber security.  Please consult it for the most up-to-date guidance:  https://www.ttu.edu/cybersecurity/ttu/.

A summary of IT security as it relates to research can be found in this brochure.