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BSEE


CABLE MANAGEMENT


Maximising the opportunity of the working from home revolution


A unit such as the CMD Network Extender, which combines home office power, USB charging and data network extension in a single device, is ideal because it saves space and provides everything the homeworker needs in one location. This simple plug and play solution provides a product that could be transformative for companies with employees working from home.


Creating the flexible remote office


Stephen Roberts from oce power, connecvity and ergonomics specialist, CMD Ltd, discusses the need for soluons to allow employers to oer longterm work from home policies.


W


ho knew when we started out with all our good intentions and resolutions at the beginning of


this year that we’d have ‘unprecedented’ reasons for reneging on gym membership and staying home from the pub in 2020? Or that many of us would spend a significant chunk of the year working from home, often at the kitchen table or perched on the sofa with a laptop?


This year hasn’t panned out as any of us planned and, as we head into Q4 and look ahead to 2021, it’s harder than ever to predict what’s ahead or what the ‘new normal’ will actually look like. One thing is for certain, however, the experience of COVID-19 has made both employers and employees rethink what’s possible and desirable when it comes to working patterns and work places. 2020 has proved that working from home is not only viable for many, but that it can actually be advantageous, in terms of productivity, wellbeing and operational overheads.


Understanding the Challenge


The challenge facing employers now is to understand how best to balance the commercial needs of their business, the health and wellbeing of their team and the practical considerations of a continuing public health emergency when considering sustainable homeworking models. With so many employees keen to maintain an element of


homeworking, if only for one or two days a week, and so many employers willing to offer it, does facilitating a work-from-home model, on either a full-time or part-time basis, now form part of recruitment and staff retention policies? Will it also enable companies to reduce their costs, cherry pick employees from a wider geography and offer greater flexibility of working hours? The implications are far-reaching but it’s already clear that


transitioning from working from home out of necessity to delivering sustainable working from home policies and infrastructure, requires the right tools to support employees’ productivity. That means providing equipment that offers a workplace- comparable office set up at home. The challenge is that no two home environments are the same, either in terms of their physical characteristics (such as space, desk/table height, availability of a table), their technical characteristics (availability and position of power sockets, data signal strength), or their social characteristics (sharing a workspace with family, co-habitees or children). For some would-be home workers, working from home may simply be a generic term for working in a place of their choosing away from a formal office setting, such as a café or co- working space. For others it may only be possible if they can find a way to switch between work and leisure time quickly and easily within a defined location in their home. The challenge for those providing power, connectivity and ergonomics solutions for office environments is to address this huge array of variants in


18 BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER NOVEMBER 2020


a way that delivers coherent, off-the- shelf packages that answer the needs of both employers and employees. During the pandemic, homeworkers have largely fallen into one of two groups: those with a dedicated space at home to use as an office, and those who have had to carve out a workspace on a daily basis, often while factoring in partners, children or housemates sharing the same environment. If employers are going to adopt a homeworking/partial homeworking model going forward, they have a duty of care to ensure that members of staff in either of these scenarios have a home workplace environment that supports their physical and mental health and wellbeing. This means considering ergonomics, desktop facilities and connectivity. Home working packages need to be tailored for either dedicated home offices or makeshift workstations. They also need to be practical for installation on a plug and play basis to allow employees of all technical abilities to set up their own workstation.


Enhancing the dedicated home oce


Whether it is an office, a spare bedroom or a garden room, if a worker has a space where the desk is permanently set up for work, it can be interpreted as a permanent workspace. However, unlike in the office, many of those working from home in this scenario will not have an appropriate task chair or monitor arm. They may also not have access to conveniently located or sufficient power sockets and charge points, which can lead to a jumble of wires and extension leads that are potentially hazardous to both their health and safety and their company’s IT assets. Along with the right chair, companies will be looking for electrical solutions to address this. Packages can include a fixed monitor arm to enable height- adjustable dual screen working and a network extender to improve the data signal for the improved connection required for online meetings and VPN access to the company server.


For those without a dedicated office, working from home during lockdown has been extra challenging. They may have had to share their home’s only table with housemates, a partner or home schooling regimes, packing everything away at the end of each day to allow the space to be re- purposed for leisure time.


CMD has developed a package of equipment specifically designed for makeshift workstations, enabling this group to make longer term homeworking a viable choice by allowing them to use a more ergonomic, comfortable set-up that packs away neatly when not in use. For example, the lightweight CMD monitor arm for single or dual screens, enables the screen to be raised to the optimum height for the user, without being permanently attached to the desk or table. Designed to be quick and easy to install it allows the use of a second screen when working from a laptop. One of the issues with working from a laptop is ergonomics, with poor screen position often resulting in poor posture which can result in discomfort while working along with aches and pains. A simple solution, such as CMD’s portable laptop stand, can address this by allowing the user to set the screen height to suit their viewline. This not only allows the homeworker to pack their workstation away at the end of the day, but also enables them to create a more suitable space in a café or co-working environment, away from both the office and the home if they wish.


The issues around power points and data connection also affect this group, and the same principles apply. CMD’s Inca desktop power supply module is suitable for use on a kitchen table, with sockets in multiple directions along with USB points. Used in conjunction with a network extender, this provides a portable, flexible approach to working from anywhere.


Rising to the Challenge


COVID-19 has made homeworking possible for both businesses and individuals. The change in working cultures will provide a catalyst for a whole new category of workplace solutions to make the home office sustainable. CMD has taken a lead in understanding the challenges of different homeworking scenarios resulting in off-the-shelf solutions.


Read the latest at: www.bsee.co.uk


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