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Running a business from home is a fine thing for many people. As technology shifts to allow increasing flexibility of where and when people perform tasks the office can become as much an attitude as a place. You’re “at work” when you say you are, rather than because you’re in a specific place.

That said, there can be drawbacks. Even people who are self-employed or who own their own small businesses are technically bound by the same health and safety regulations as everyone else (although the self-employed singleton is hardly likely to report himself or herself to the authorities for non-compliance).

So what are the issues surrounding ergonomics when your workplace is your home – and indeed, are there other logistics to take into account?


Ben Strutt, head of design at Cambridge Design Partnership, believes there is more to consider in planning a domestic workplace than the positioning of a chair. In fact, he almost disputes that there’s any such thing as a really generic workplace. “It is important to begin with an exploratory deconstruction of context and tasks to help with workflow optimisation,” he says. “What are you trying to achieve? Where are you doing it? When are you doing it? Who is doing it, and how? Answers to these questions will help position the ergonomic solution, and considerations are many.”

There are, of course, technologies to help and Strutt points to some including Qualcomm’s Consia, which tailors background functions on phones and tablets to behave differently so “personal” looks distinct from “business”. The new BlackBerry phones have a similar idea behind them with the “balance” technology in version 10 of the software. “This can have emotional benefits particularly as more often than not the same devices are being used to access both work and personal information,” Strutt says. “It can be hard to emotionally detach from work based from home and while the home working environment can be liberating for some people, it can be stressful, guilt-ridden and oppressing for others.”


It’s also worth looking at health issues. “In theory, operating from home should provide more access to fresh air, exercise, and healthy eating,” Strutt says. “But of course, as opportunities to work from home rise and with the pressure of longer hours, so may the temptation for an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, with resulting healthcare problems such as obesity. Plenty of advice exists to support exercising at the desk and technologies such as Fitbit are enabling users to track their movements and can help motivate change.”

Read the article in The Guardian online in full

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