Staying Fit and Healthy Working from Home

Working from home means numerous changes in the otherwise familiar work routine. The following tips and ideas are intended to help you organize and plan your home-working arrangements.

What do I need to consider when setting up a workspace at home? Work environment and ergonomics in the home office

Choose a space that enables you to set up your workspace ergonomically and thus prevent discomfort as far as possible. You can optimize your workspace yourself:

  • Avoiding reflections and strong light: Position your table and screen so that the light comes in from the side (screen at a 90° angle to the window).
  • Setting up your screen: Position your screen at its lowest setting. The bottom edge of your screen should rest on the table.
  • Adjusting your chair: Your elbows should be at roughly the same height as the table. Smaller people often require a footrest to avoid having their feet dangle in the air.
  • Working on a laptop: Use an external mouse and keyboard.

Further information on ergonomics and setting up an office workspace is available from SUVA and the FCOS Box:
SUVA: Ergonomie am Bildschirmarbeitsplatz im Home-Office
SUVA: Arbeitsplatz einrichten
FCOS Box: Ergonomics in the Workplace

Work organization and communication

In addition to setting up an ergonomic workspace, it is very important to be well organized when working from home. Choose a quiet place in your home to set up your workspace so that you are disturbed as little as possible. Avoid disturbances and interruptions. If necessary, you can use headphones to ensure that you won’t disturb others or be disturbed by others living with you.

Structure your daily work routine and coordinate your work processes with your colleagues as well as with others living with you and your family. 

  • Reachability during office hours: Make sure you can be reached during office hours, as agreed with your line managers. Don’t forget to schedule your usual short breaks in between blocks of work over the course of the day.
  • Let your team know when you are not available: As usual, let your line managers and team know whenever you are unavailable during your working hours. 
  • Do not only communicate via email: Do not limit your interaction with clients, colleagues and line managers to e-mail. Call them from time to time or schedule a meeting on MS Teams or Zoom.
  • End your working day properly: Make sure you mark the end of your working day properly by shutting down your computer and “packing up” your office if it isn’t in a separate room.

Important advice and background knowledge on occupational health and safety:
FCOS learning modules: The basics of occupational safety
FHNW: «Sich selber Strukturen schaffen»

Exercise, sleep and nutrition

Daily routine plays a crucial role when it comes to staying healthy. Make sure you get enough exercise – preferably in the fresh air – and eat a balanced diet. Try to go to bed at about the same time every night and rise at your usual time.

  • Take short breaks: Take short breaks and move around more often. Give your body a good stretch and take a few steps.
  • Keep moving: Do sports in moderation or walk 10,000 steps, either before or after work. Consider taking up yoga or Pilates, for example, which are good activities and require little space or equipment.
  • Eat well: Keep a healthy and balanced diet. Since you are likely to get less exercise than usual, you should reduce your calorie intake and eat fewer refined foods. But definitely treat yourself to a piece of chocolate from time to time!
  • Stay hydrated: Preferably by drinking water or tea. It is possible that dry mucous membranes make us more susceptible to common colds.

More Information and videos on exercise, sleep and nutrition:
ZHAW: «Bewegungsübungen im Home-Office»
ASVZ: Various Exercise Videos on YouTube
SGE: «Ausgewogen verpflegt – auch im Homeoffice»
Lunge Zürich: Merkblatt gesunder Schlaf

Mental health, stress and isolation

Working from home has many advantages, but it can also take a toll on your mental health. It requires an extra slice of motivation and more self-discipline than working at your usual workspace. For example, if you live in a single-person household, you may quickly feel lonely. 

  • Keep in touch: Keep in touch with your personal contacts in the team and also use alternative channels for doing so. But keep in mind that not everyone likes to share private matters or wants to talk about their feelings.
  • Be patient with yourself and others: Especially at the beginning, the new tools for working from home can be challenging to use, and there are bound to be some hitches along the way. Be patient, with yourself and others. 
  • When living alone: Do you live alone? If you do, it’s important that you maintain your private social contacts and also keep in touch with your team at UZH when working from home. Reach out for support and advice if you’re feeling lonely! 
  • Quarantine or self-isolation: Are you quarantining or self-isolating? Being alone for 10 days or two weeks without any face-to-face contact with others is a great challenge. Try to remain grounded by giving yourself clear structures and goals. 

UZH’s health portal links to a wide range of support services centered on working conditions, UZH advisory services and tips for combining work and family life:
health@uzh

Further information and services:
Föderation der Schweizer Psychologinnen und Psychologen: «Wie Sie häusliche Isolation und Quarantäne gut überstehen»
How are you?
Dargebotene Hand (available over the phone, via e-mail or chat 24/7, in German)

Contact

Safety, Security and Environment, University of Zurich
Phone +41 44 635 44 10
E-mail: arbeitsmedizin@uzh.ch
Safety, Security and Environment