Agile working – perhaps not as simple as it may seem?
Many organisations are now moving to ‘agile working’ or ‘activity based’ working – either in a gradual way and slowly changing ways of working over time, or in some cases in a more dramatic and transformational way – out with the old, and in with the new.
Either way there are more things to think about than may at first seem apparent – some traditional FM type things, some beyond the remit of many FM’s, but nevertheless important if you’re to take a joined-up approach. 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. By no means will these be exhaustive lists – just food for thought to help you tailor ‘agile’ or ‘activity based’ working to the needs of your organisation and the employees on which you depend.
Part 3 – Display Screen Equipment Regulations (1992)
As you should all have had a DSE assessment in the office you will realise the importance of good posture when using a computer to safeguard you from visual problems and aches and pains.
This applies when working for ‘prolonged periods’ away from the office on a laptop as well. 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 the office you 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 providing a separate keyboard and mouse, and 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 office working posture.
It’s not realistic to expect people to always set themselves up perfectly like this, or to carry around a screen raiser, keyboard and mouse all the time if their use is only likely to be occasional. But it’s important if longer pieces of work are being done, then employees should be encouraged to set themselves up comfortably and use the equipment provided if away from the office.
The other issue with working away from the office is seating position. It’s obviously not practical to drag an adjustable office chair around with you, so employees need to be trained on how to adapt the environment they’re in using cushions or whatever they have to hand to get themselves 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; and keeping the mouse and keyboard nice and close to avoid overstretching.
What you are reliant on here though is for employees to be aware of these things and take responsibility for their own comfort when away from the more controlled office environment – more about Dynamic Risk Assessments in the next blog.
- Provide separation of keyboard and screen
- Provide training on comfort away from the office
- Train employees to do Dynamic Risk Assessments
So lots of things to think about.
One size/solution doesn’t fit all, so it will need a bit of consideration and consultation with your employees to make sure you provide the right environment and equipment for your organisation. Some DSE training specific to this aspect of an individual’s role would also be appropriate so that you can work together to make this agile transition as ‘painless’ as possible for all concerned.
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? ?