Michael Kennedy

As the health and safety adviser at QMU, a large part of my role involves carrying out ergonomic workstation assessments to help my colleagues achieve the best possible set up. While this was relatively straight forward in an office environment, the vast majority of us are now trying to replicate our office desk set ups in our own homes – with varying results.

Here are some of the challenges I faced and continue to face as a temporary home worker:

No worries, I already have an office at home that I can use...Wrong!

I didn’t factor in that my wife would also be working from home and our “office” quickly became the most sought after room in our home. After several negotiations and compromises, I was told that I would be working from the dining table. Happy wife, happy life!

Goodbye office chair, desk and monitor and hello small, vintage dining table and dining chair. After only one day of using my laptop on the dining table, I found I was developing pain in my neck from adopting a hunched over posture to see the laptop screen. On day two, I used several (unread) cook books to raise the height of my laptop screen to eye level and managed to find a spare keyboard and mouse in a long forgotten storage drawer. I was now able to achieve a better ergonomic posture and had no neck pain at the end of the day. Despite me taking regular breaks, the rigid dining chair was also causing me some discomfort. After some thought, I raided my wife’s car and borrowed the lumbar support and cushion she uses for driving. Perfect solution. You can also achieve similar results with a regular cushion on your chair and a rolled up towel to act as a lumbar support.

I won’t be distracted while working at home...Wrong!

It turns out that my two angelic, French Bulldogs love having daddy home all the time and feel the need to constantly vie for my attention. The little one pictured below is called Gunner and most of the time he sounds like a pig hunting for truffles. Cute at first, but not so cute during meetings when people think you are the one grunting and snorting. My solution to this new challenge was to introduce a dog sitting schedule for my wife and I to equally share their love and attention

At least working at home will be quieter than working in an open plan office...Wrong again!

I live in a ground floor flat and my upstairs neighbour is taking full advantage of his time at home to fully renovate his property, including new flooring. After many hours of loud noises, and the purchase of noise cancelling headsets, we have come to a mutual understanding that renovations should be limited to specific days and times. Other than experiencing an unexpected waterfall from my bedroom light and the resulting power cut when he drilled through a water pipe, life has been grand!

If you need any health and safety advice or help, please contact me on mkennedy1@qmu.ac.uk. I also have specialist knowledge of dealing with French Bulldogs and eating kit kats...

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