Save your eyes, wrists and back while keeping up a social distance

One of the many good things about living in a small community is how easily people offer help, information and resources to one another in times of crisis and often every day, too.

There’s no disputing we are in a crisis situation right now and everywhere I look, I see people rising to the challenge and meeting the moment with heart.

Everyone is doing their part to stem the spread of COVID-19 novel coronavirus cases. It will take every one of us to do it.

Our valued first responders and courageous, expert medical personnel are preserving lives and keeping Plumas communities safer for everyone with the help of self-quarantine measures. Thank God.

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Locally, a great many employees are also working from home to preserve vital social distancing during the public health response, myself included.

As a writer, I admit I’m kind of an old hand at social distancing. Or at least some kind of a hand. And not really by design; it’s just that writing is a fairly solitary pursuit. I often work by laptop from my home, other people’s homes, Capt. Joe’s boat or any comfy chair I can find where hot tea and scones are within easy reach. Preferably lemon scones.

Today, I would like to thank Lisa Cavin, Deputy Superintendent for Business Services with the Plumas County Office of Education (PCOE), and her colleagues at the Plumas Unified School District. They don’t have lemon scones (that I know of) but they have provided some really practical tips to help teachers and other employees work safely and productively from home offices or makeshift workspaces through this temporary and vital COVID-19 stay home, stay safe directive.

Like many employers, PCOE recently shared detailed instructions for setting up an ergonomically sound workstation at home. .

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The suggestions cover a broad range of needs, from posture and back support to wrist protection and averting mouse fatigue, eyestrain and more.

The tips are excellent and may be applied to anyone who is suddenly managing an office workload from home.

Teleworking, a new normal

“As we move to working and learning mostly online, we know it can be difficult adjusting to working remotely,” Cavin said in a recent notice to school district employees. “We are all in the same boat!”

The school district has advanced rapidly to work collaboratively and keep students learning in the face of prolonged school closures.

“It is amazing how quickly we were able to respond to this new way of providing education,” Cavin stated, explaining the district’s progress is due in large part to the work its technology team has been collaborating on for the last four years.

Functional workspaces matter

Teachers and others who have suddenly had to set up work areas at home have also had to ramp up fast to keep workloads from grinding to a halt during this critical social shutdown. To their credit, the local workforce is succeeding with flying colors. Many parents are doing the same.

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Cavin and PCOE recommend new teleworkers should be mindful of setting up their workspaces in ways that are comfortable and functional for them.

“Most of all,” she told her colleagues, “we want to thank each and every one of our PUSD/PCOE team members for the work you do each day. We are truly honored to be a part of this work family!”

Check out some of these practical tips from employee safety specialists Keenan & Associates of Torrance to make the most of your own home office, whether you’re a practiced hand at working remotely or it’s a new adventure due to the current disease prevention measures.

Set up a home workstation

– Use items from around the house to make your space more comfortable.

– Putting books or a shipping box under your monitor may help to keep it at the right eye level.

– Try using pillows to help with the height of your chair, if it isn’t adjustable.

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– A box or block of wood may come in handy as a footrest.

Establish a work schedule

– Avoid eye and muscle strain. Take breaks and make sure you get up from the computer. Move at regular intervals.

– It might be a challenge right now, with children studying at home or adjusting to the disruption in your routine, so set boundaries for work and home.

– Consider using a mindfulness app.

Stay connected

– Know your resources, or where to get them.

– Be sure to connect virtually with colleagues and support staff team members so you don’t feel isolated and can check in with workload issues, needs, etc.

– Learn to bake lemon scones at home and leave some on a neighbor’s porch. OK, this one isn’t from Keenan & Associates, but I still think it’s a good idea. Feel free to send me a recipe I’ll give it a go myself. Thank you!

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