A guide to remote working for older workers
19th October 2020
The Coronavirus outbreak has brought many changes to life, from changes in the way we shop, how we see family and friends and the way many of us work. With the country having to adapt to working from home, lots of professions have had to adapt to working from spaces in their homes. For older people, tackling a new way of working and using unfamiliar technology can be daunting and the thought of having to set up their own working from home space can be one of dread.
In this article, bloggers offer their recommendations for those who are struggling with working from home. Going into depth about your working set up, technology and some of the issues you may be facing, how to keep productive and much more. Keep on reading to find some of the best tips for remote working.
Your set up
Your home set up is one of the most important elements when it comes to working from home, so making sure it suits you and your requirements is the first step to setting up your space successfully. There are a number of factors to take into consideration from the location of your workspace, the type of desk you are using, your choice of seat and the lighting in your chosen area. Carry on reading to find out a little more about how you should set up your space.
The location of your desk is really important, your home office should be situated in a quiet space, preferably in a separate room so you can close the door and separate work from home life, but this isn’t always do-able. If you don’t have a lot of space, find a quiet corner that gives you a little privacy and create your little setup. If you struggle with mobility and often require the use of stair lifts and walk in shower enclosures then it goes without saying that you should make sure your working space is downstairs and is easy to access.
Computer World explains a little more on its website about the location of your desk set up: “A long-term home office should ideally be a separate space in your home that is properly outfitted for work. Do as much of the following as you can to create an effective, safe workspace for the long term.”
Claire who blogs at Stapo's Thrifty Life Hacks also recommends finding a quiet and secluded space in the house: “When working from home, it's important to set boundaries between home and work life. You can do this by working in a part of the house that you don't spend much time in usually. A spare bedroom, the conservatory, or a home office work well for this. But if you're struggling for space then at least make a conscious effort to work away from your bedroom. If you don't have a clear line between where you work and where you sleep, then you might find that work issues start to infringe on your rest time.”
Your desk should meet the standards of your office desk and shouldn’t be too high or too low. If you don’t have a proper office desk, you can use your kitchen table or coffee table, raising your computer screen to bring it up to your desired level.
“Your space needs a desk or table that is at work height. The industry standard is 29 inches from the floor to the top of the work surface. Tall people do better with a higher height, and short people do better with a lower height. Many desks and tables have adjustable height, usually through their feet,” Computer World continues on their website.
Shelly Whittaker from Wander and Luxe thinks that dedicating a specific area for your workspace is one of the best ways to ensure you’re productive: “Create a dedicated space to work: Working from the sofa, dining table or even bed might seem more comfortable at first, but you may start to find it difficult to distinguish between home and work time.”
Your chair is probably one of the most important parts of your home office set up and should be considered carefully. Your chair should be adjustable so you can adapt it to your situation and your position and offer plenty of back support for when you are sitting at it for longer periods of time. It is worth asking your office if you can take your chair home with you to avoid any unnecessary costs.
As well as thinking about the location of your desk, you should think about the lighting in the area you have chosen. If you can find somewhere that has a window nearby, that’ll be great for productivity and motivation, similarly, you want to be in a light and bright room with plenty of windows if you can.
Technology can be one of the biggest challenges about working from home, especially for older adults, but there are plenty of ways you can make the process a little easier. Many of us will have a computer at home, whether it is a laptop or a desktop PC, so you can either use this whilst at home or ask your employer if they have a computer or laptop you can borrow to keep your work separate from your home PC. Carry on reading to find some of the ways you can make setting up your PC that little bit simpler.
Get help setting up
Setting up your working from home space will probably be the trickiest part of working from home, but don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues or IT department to send you instructions on how to set it all up. Some companies may require you to set up a separate VPN to access your work documents and desktop, but they should send you instructions on how to do this.
Shelly continues and explains how it is a good idea to get someone to help you set up in the first instance: “Keep IT simple: If you are not as experienced with technology, ensure that you have really easy and simple solutions to make it easy to work from home. Try to arrange for someone to show you some basic troubleshooting from the outset; and have someone available to call for support if things are not working as they should.”
Don’t be afraid to ask
One of the main things is don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Your employer, colleagues, friends and family will all be happy to help you. There are also plenty of websites that’ll have some tips to help you along the way.
Claire offers some words of wisdom about when it comes to asking for help: “If you're not confident with technology, then make sure you speak out and get help. If you're working for a company, then reach out to the IT department to ask questions about a program or a piece of hardware. You should also speak out if there's a piece of equipment that you need to facilitate your job. If you usually have two monitors when working from the office and now you need to work from home, then arrange for the monitors to be delivered to your house. If you're self-employed, or you work for a smaller company, then you can always ask a friend or a family member for help with technology.”
Claire also recommends that you use online resources if there is anything you are a little unsure about: “If you don't feel confident doing that, then there are plenty of online resources that you can access. I recommend LinkedIn Learning (which you can access with a one-month free trial), or a YouTube tutorial. You certainly shouldn't suffer in silence. The recent pandemic has meant that we all have to get to grips with new technology and if you're struggling with it, then get help.”
Keeping productive when you’re in a familiar environment like your own home can be really difficult and some of us will find it a lot harder or a lot easier than others. There are plenty of ways to keep your mind active, just as you would if you were in the office.
Taking breaks and allowing your mind to switch off for a period of time is really important. As you would if you were in the office, you should allow yourself a lunch break and a few smaller breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. If you struggle with your agility, it can be a great idea to get up and stretch your legs often to avoid stiffness and any unwanted pain. Get up and have a short 10-minute walk or do some light stretches in an open space.
Keeping your mind and body hydrated is important every day, but especially if you’re concentrating for long periods of time. Water fuels the brain and allows us to work for longer as well as working more efficiently. Healthline recommends drinking about 2 litres of water a day, so try to have a full glass on your desk at all times as a gentle reminder to keep sipping.
Create a routine
As you would at work, creating a routine breaks up your day and allows you to work to dedicated times of the day. Plan what time of the day you are going to take a tea break, your lunch break and what time you are going to finish for the day. Not only will you know when your next break is, having a routine allows you to work hard towards a specific time, allowing you to be more productive. A popular routine could be the following:
- 9am – start work
- 11am – tea or coffee break
- 1pm – lunch
- 3:30pm – tea or coffee break
- 5/5:30pm finish work
Make to-do lists
Another way of making sure you are getting all your work done is to make lists. Lists are great to show you what you need to get done throughout the day and that week but are also great to refer to if you get asked what is on your schedule. Write your to-do list the night before or first thing in the morning and tick them off throughout the day.
Common apps and programmes
No matter what sector you work in, there are bound to be programmes and apps that are commonly used and can sometimes be a little confusing if you don’t use them that often. As many are now working from home, navigating these apps can be a little daunting. If you are planning to use your own computer at home, ask your company about using their subscriptions or passwords to allow you to use these programmes at home.
Excel is a common programme that is often used for formulating data, numbers or large collections of text. Excel allows you to manipulate your data, make it into tables, make calculations and format large and otherwise confusing text. If you want to download large documents and manipulate them into easy to manage chunks, Excel is the perfect programme.
Microsoft Word is the perfect platform for those who often write a lot on a day-to-day basis. Word is the perfect place to write any notes, essays, blog articles or any other things you may otherwise write in your notebook. Word documents can be sent easily over email and can be formatted to your tastes or to fit company branding.
Google Sheets is very similar to Excel but is run by Google as opposed to Microsoft. Similarly to Excel, Google Sheets allows you to format and manipulate large amounts of data, creating tables, graphs and charts. The beauty of Google Sheets is that anyone who has access to the sheet can edit it all at the same time, meaning that you aren’t restricted to one person editing at one time.
Similarly to Microsoft Word, Google Docs is a document platform run by Google. Allowing colleagues to collaborate on documents with one another at the same time. With options to edit your text, add company graphics and format.
Relatively new and an app that has been hugely popular over lockdown and as more of us have worked from home, Microsoft Teams is a chat platform that allows teams to chat and collaborate. Teams can be created, private chats can be had and video calls can be made.
Zoom is a video calling platform that is perfect for conferences, group meetings and interviews. Your company may use this for team meetings, company updates or you could use it for one to one chats.
If you’ve been working from home for the last couple of months or are just starting, these simple tips and tricks should help ease you into the process and help you manage your time and productivity better.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.