Skip to main content

Advice for staff working at home due to COVID-19

 

In these current exceptional circumstances around Coronavirus (Covid19) the Government is asking everyone to stay at home where they possibly can. Here are some guidelines to help you work from home.

What activities can I do while I am working from home?

The only work-related activities that you can carry out in a home setting are the activities you would usually carry out in an office on campus ( this could include teaching preparation, marking etc)

Work-related activities that you CANNOT carry out in a home setting include (although this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Laboratory style activities - including handling and using chemicals, biological or radioactive materials.

  • Analysing samples – rock/ soil/ water etc.

  • Workshop-style activities - including equipment modifications, making equipment, wood working or electronics.

  • Storage of samples (collected from any fieldwork) in fridges or freezers that contain (or would normally contain) food.

  • Activities that may present an additional fire risk in a domestic setting (e.g. soldering, welding etc).

Check for unexpected hazards

Offices and other workplaces are usually set up to ensure work can be carried out there safely. At home, with family and others around, things may not be quite so straightforward. Make a mental note of possible hazards - trailing laptop wires etc – and try to remove or reduce these risks as much as possible.

If you do have a work-related accident at home, please contact your line manager who can report it following their usual systems or by completing an incident report at https://www.vantage-sentinel.com/LeedsUni/.

Set up your ‘workstation’

Suddenly your living room may have become your ‘office space’ and we know it won’t always be easy to arrange a workstation at home under these conditions. Here are a few tips to help you make your new workspace comfortable and to allow you to work safely: 

  • Before turning your equipment on, quickly check plugs, leads and outer covers are undamaged and there are no burn marks or stains which might suggest overheating.

  • Use the 3 Diagrams at the bottom of this webpage as guidance for how to align your computer/ laptop - you may not be able to set things up exactly as described, but if you follow the key points, you’ll be off to a good start.

  • See the ‘Guide to healthy laptop use’ attached to the bottom of this webpage for more information. When using a laptop, please place it on a firm surface (or a docking station if you have one) rather than a sofa edge or pillow. Try to use a full-sized keyboard and mouse if possible and angle the screen to minimise any reflections.

  • If you’re using a tablet, ipad or other portable device see the Guidance documents attached to the bottom of this webpage.

  • Wellbeing, Safety and Health are available to offer advice if you email safety@leeds.ac.uk

  • If you are experiencing significant issues in relation to your DSE set up, please contact your line manager. A new process is now in place that enables the line manager, Health and Safety Manager and Occupational Health to look at ways forward by considering both the work requirements and individual needs.

Working from home expenses (during the current situation)

Exceptionally, and with prior approval from your Head of School/Service (or their nominee), the University will currently reimburse small scale expenditure on IT cabling, wireless USB devices, and headsets etc that are necessary for you to fulfil your role from home. The cost of this equipment should be no more than £40 in total. Normal receipt requirements, expense claim process and authorisation routes apply.

Any other IT equipment required to work effectively from home should be pre-approved and ordered through the University IT team in line with the latest University guidance.

As a general rule the University will not reimburse the cost of IT equipment, office furniture and internet access. If you do not have internet access at home and it is necessary for your role, please contact your line manager who will discuss options with you including other types of work you can do at home.

Take a break

Remember that it’s really important to take regular breaks regularly to avoid fatigue.

  • At work you’d probably take natural breaks to attend meetings, deliver teaching, collect printing, make a drink, have discussions with colleagues/ students etc.

  • At home, it might be tempting to work for longer periods but it’s really important to take frequent breaks.

  •  if you're struggling with aches and pains try using this add on with Microsoft packages to dictate text using speech recognition. 

  • To avoid any short-term discomfort from working on computers at home, try some quick exercises:

    • see ‘Workstation Exercises’ and ‘Avoiding tech neck’ attached to the bottom of this webpage

    • or see the quick Postural exercises as demonstrated by Sports and Physical Activity.

  • We also recognise that you may be juggling your time trying to work while children or other family members are also at home. It is important that you take time to maintain the right work/life balance and set clear hours for work -including when you are not going to take calls/answer emails. Please speak to your line manager if you are finding this difficult to balance.

Keep in touch

  • In these troubling times it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with your colleagues, teammates and managers. Many of us will share similar worries, concerns or experiences, as we get used to this new situation and talking to people may help you feel more connected.

  • Please keep in touch with key people in your area as well as any direct reports / managers in your School/ Service.

  • If anything is worrying you, discuss it with your line manager/ supervisor as soon as possible.

Watch your wellbeing

Working from home on an ongoing basis can be surprisingly tricky – especially if you’re at home on your own all the time, or if you have family or other commitments you don’t usually have to deal with at work. Being away from your colleagues and usual support mechanisms can also be very hard so please don’t go it alone.

· See the general Wellbeing guidance and the specific advice homeworking and life balance and for more advice and support on this, contact occupationalhealth@leeds.ac.uk

· Confidential wellbeing chat – whether you’re feeling a bit down, struggling with isolation or being at home with your family, or just needing a general confidential chat, email occupationalhealth@leeds.ac.uk to arrange one. There is an Occupational Health Practitioner available Monday to Friday during office hours to speak to and support you in the current situation. These specialist practitioners are all nurses with extensive experience.

· The Staff Counselling and Psychological Support service is set up to provide advice, information and counselling by email, phone and the secure platform Zoom. Please do get in touch by email at staffcounselling@leeds.ac.uk or phone 0113 3433694 and leave a message.

· Universities Chaplaincy - Chaplains can listen and offer remote pastoral and spiritual support by appointment or virtual drop-in. Please contact:

· Chaplains on chaplaincy@leeds.ac.uk with your best availability, name & contact details, or leave a message on 0113 343 5071.

· Muslim Adviser Farhat Yaqoob on 07713 707857 or email F.Yaqoob@leeds.ac.uk

· If you are a member of staff in crisis and would like out of hours chaplaincy support, please call our special out of hours number 07780 613862. We will respond to you as soon as they can. Our chaplains come from different faith backgrounds but we are here for staff of all faiths and all world views.

Information is also available from Staff Counselling and Psychological Support including strategies and tools for dealing with anxieties around the current situation with extra online resources also available. The new Wellbeing pages will also link together information, support and advice to support your wellbeing – keep checking back to see the latest!

Keep up-to-date with the University approach

Any changes and developments around the University’s approach to the current situation can be found here https://coronavirus.leeds.ac.uk/.

If you have specific questions around health and safety please contact:

· Health and Safety Services on – safety@leeds.ac.uk

· Occupational Health on – occupationalhealth@leeds.ac.uk

 

 

 

Diagram 1: laptop use with a mini keyboard

DSE Diagram of a person using a laptop when sat at a desk

 

 

 

Diagram 2: laptop use with a standard keyboard

Diagram 2 of a person sitting at a desk with a laptop and using a standard keyboard

 

 

Diagram 3: DSE Helpful Hints if you have this equipment at home

Diagram 3 of a person sitting at a desk with desk mounted monitor and keyboard and mouse

 

 

It may be possible to set up your PC in the same way as your office one. It may be useful to refresh your memory of the general principles and complete this training again but please don’t complete the assessment section - https://leedsuni.britsafelearning.com/login/index.php

Extra Information can be found at the Health and Safety Executive website.