Those pesky DSE Regulations – how do we make them work when away from the office?
Agile/remote working – perhaps not as simple as it may seem?
Many organisations are now following the entrepreneurial lead and moving to a more ‘agile’ or ‘activity based’ way of working.
The tech revolution has allowed us to start to work wherever and whenever we want – central city locations for big companies are no longer the only place that we can work – coffee shop, co-working space, library, the trains are all places of work now.
This gives us more flexibility than ever before – hoorah! But it also poses some potential difficulties that are easily overcome with just a bit of thought – problem is that we tend not to think about them until it’s too late, and we’ve now got aches & pains, or a clunky way of working that we probably could have avoided.
In this series of blogs on agile working we’ll be working our way through all aspects of people, place and technology and giving you our thoughts on what you need to consider and why when moving away from traditional office based working routines.
So whether you’re a Freelancer, Remote Worker, Facilities Manager, or Co-working Space provider you’ll find some useful nuggets here to get you thinking.
By no means will these be exhaustive lists – just food for thought to help navigate these changes for either yourself, your employees or your clients.
Part 4 – Display Screen Equipment Regulations (1992)
If you’re an employee then you should have had a DSE assessment in the office, and you will realise the importance of good posture when using a computer to safeguard you from visual problems and aches and pains.
If you’re self employed then it’s highly unlikely that you will have had any training in computer ergonomics, but you need it just as much as any employee – so read on…..
When you’re in a traditional office environment with adjustable chair, and desktop computer it’s relatively easy (if you know what you’re doing) to adjust your working environment and get yourself comfy. But it’s not so easy to adopt good posture when working on a laptop and sitting on a bed, in a train, or a coffee shop.
The problem with laptops is that they lack separation of screen and keyboard – so if you want to bring your keyboard nice and close, then your screen is probably not at a comfortable viewing distance, and if you want to raise your screen to avoid leaning forward to see it, then your keyboard will be too high – no matter what you do, you’ll be compromising some aspect of your comfort.
So what can we do?
The key is to separate the keyboard and screen. In an office or co-working space you could provide a docking station to enable this, and if you have a hot-desking policy then that’s ideally what you would do.
But clearly that’s just not practical as you move around, so you have to find some other way of providing separation. By using a separate keyboard and mouse, and finding some way of raising the laptop screen, posture can be greatly improved and most should be able to get into a comfortable working position – replicating the traditional office working posture.
It’s not realistic to think you’ll always set yourself up perfectly like this, or to carry around a screen raiser, keyboard and mouse all the time if usage is only likely to be occasional. But it’s important if longer pieces of work are being done – get yourself comfy and avoid getting unnecessary aches & pains.
The other issue with working away from an office environment is seating position. It’s obviously not practical to drag an adjustable office chair around with you, but you can adapt the environment using cushions or whatever you have to hand to get yourself comfortable:
- a cushion in the small of your back to support the natural curves
- placing the laptop onto a cushion or backpack to raise it up slightly to a more comfortable position
- keeping the mouse and keyboard nice and close to avoid overstretching
- using plug-in keyboard and mouse & using a screen raiser
Simple stuff – but it’s all about keeping an eye on what you’re doing and how you’re working and change stuff and make it work for you. Ask your employer or co-working space if they can provide spare keyboards, mice, screen raisers to avoid you having to carry these things around, and some ergonomics advice so you know what to do – it really will make all the difference.
- Create separation of keyboard and screen
- Become ergonomics ‘savvy’ to keep comfy when on the move
- Ask employers and spaces for loan equipment and advice
So lots of things to think about.
If you think we’ve missed anything, or would like to add to the discussion we’d be delighted to hear from you. Let us know what you think, or what your experiences have been and we can all help add to the discussion on the best ways forward as our offices become more and more ‘mobile’.
We look forward to hearing from you.
PS – we know our posts are short, and to the point, but we kind of like them that way. Hope you do too? 😊