Working from home

Unplanned working from home guidelines

Unplanned working from home may occur due to unforeseen circumstances. This might include a time of crisis or unexpected circumstances where opportunity for preparation and planning, including determining the suitability of the home environment, is limited.

Due to circumstances created by COVID-19 the University in line with DHHS policy are asking staff to work from home wherever possible.

The following steps are recommended should unplanned working from home be required:

  1. Complete and comply with the Unplanned working from home self assessment checklist. This self-assessment checklist has been specifically developed to assist you to set up a temporary home-based workstation and environment to optimise your health and safety during unexpected or unplanned events.
  2. Follow the instructions in this checklist on how to collect workstation equipment and furniture from your workplace if required for temporary use at home. This is particularly important if you have been prescribed specific furniture or equipment to meet an individual or health requirement. Further advice on taking home equipment employees should be sought through your manager or the staff Covid-19 Response website.

    Equipment suitable for taking home may include:
    • Task Chair
    • Laptop, keyboard and mouse
    • Docking station (for laptops)
    • Headphones
    • A portable sit/stand platform unit
    • Items such as laptop rises and footrests can be purchased cheaply through COS or furniture supplier Backcare and Seating on 9349 1757. Alternatively, tips for temporary measures can be found on the working virtually page.
  3. Complete the Working from home safely and effectively module via TrainME.

Preplanned working from home guidelines

The University of Melbourne supports flexible work arrangements for its staff. For some staff this may mean an opportunity for a formal work from home arrangement. The procedure for pre-planned working from home is outlined in the Flexible Work Arrangements Procedure (MPF1155): Home based work for professional staff

The following steps are required to effect a pre-planned working from home agreement:

Specialist assistance

If you have a health condition or disability which requires specialised equipment or modifications to undertake your work at home you may require a home-based workstation assessment conducted by a third-party expert. This should be organised directly with your supervisor or your Health and Safety Business Partner and funded through your local business unit. The third-party contractor recommended by the University is Fiona Begg. Fiona is an Ergonomist and Occupational Therapist familiar with the University systems and processes. She can be contacted directly via fiona.begg@bigpond.com or 0438 599 079.

It you are working from home because you (or a dependent) are recovering from a health issue, injury or surgery, assistance may be available to you and your supervisor from the University’s Human Resources or Injury Management teams.

Tips for working from home

Whatever the reason you are working from home, here are some tips to help keep you safe and healthy:

Work in the zone

  • Conduct work exclusively in your designated work zone. This includes leaving your mobile phone in this zone when exiting to take breaks. Conducting work exclusively in the work zone will ensure non-work zones can be accessed without distraction
  • Consider how you access other internal home zones such as the bathroom and kitchen. Aim to keep paths of travel clear. There is potential risk of slips and trips arising from obstacles, items left on the floor particularly in the event young children are at home or pets are inside. Consider also zones outside the home e.g. paths or steps to the letter box, garage, clothesline, garden which may be exposed to weather and leaf fall/other debris
  • Ensure you wear appropriate, correctly fitted footwear and clothing for the environment.

Establish a routine

  • Aim to consistently get up at the same time as you would if going into the workplace
  • Start your day with some form of exercise, stretching or moving
  • Plan your day - a daily to do list will help keep track of activities and give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick things off
  • Check in with your manager or team at scheduled times
  • Take regular lunch and tea breaks and additionally take brief rest breaks every 30 – 45 minutes, to stretch, move and relax working muscles. Irrespective of how well set up you are, how well you are managing your work-load and how in control you feel, rest breaks and movement are restorative. Check out our video tips for stretching and moving can be found here
  • Consider using free rest break reminder software, we recommend:

The Healthy use of laptops at home video contains some practical tips for setting up a laptop at home including tips for setting the kids up correctly too.

Set boundaries

  • Set boundaries and define work times. Leave the work zone when you are not working and switch off your computer. Not having physical separation between home and work can leave you feeling ‘switched on’ all the time which is fatiguing
  • Engage in regular exercise or healthy recreational activities. Check out the Benestar (the University’s Employee Assistance Program provider) Keeping fit while working from home tip sheet
  • Take up creative hobbies that you enjoy and find relaxing. If undertaking Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home projects ensure you use the right tools and equipment for the job and wear appropriate personal protective equipment.