Working safely at home in times of covid
THERE'S a webinar on Working Safely Through the Pandemic, put together by NUJ Professional Training in collaboration with the union's health and safety committee, hosted by London Freelance Branch. It’s on 11 February from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. At the time of writing there are still places on it.
Developed by Caroline Holmes, coordinator of the NUJ's trade union training programme, the webinar lasts about 90 minutes, uses Zoom and should let participants learn how to:
- Understand why it's important to look after your health and wellbeing at this time;
- Identify some of the challenges you face in working safely, whether from home, back in the workplace or a blend of the two;
- Be clear about what support you can expect from your employer, or would have a reasonable chance of negotiating from your client; and
- Identify support available from the NUJ.
The session will include a short presentation followed by a chance for questions and a short open discussion.
Caroline spoke at LFB's AGM in January, emphasising that long-term home working during the pandemic isn't just a mental health issue - upper body muscular-skeletal problems such as back pain can affect us if our improvised at-home work station isn't properly set up. At least one members at the January meeting complained of back pain as a result. We can fall victim to such issues if we work from home even after the pandemic eventually lifts, so now's the time to sort out having a healthier at-home work set-up.
Mark Fisher, Secretary of Edinburgh Freelance Branch, said of the Working Safely Through the Pandemic webinar:
I strongly recommend the Caroline Holmes webinar - it's packed with provocations and good advice. Anyone with a body, especially a body that sits in front of a screen all day, will pick up loads from it. Members of Edinburgh Freelance Branch responded enthusiastically to her session and shared lots of ideas and testimonies in the chat box during the presentation, as well joining in the interesting discussion that followed. At a time when so many of our working practices have changed, it's important members get to hear her words of encouragement and warning.
The webinar's 5:30 early evening slot reflects its "no screentime close to bedtime" wellbeing ethos. The Q&A element will certainly allow participants to raise aspects of freelancing in a pandemic.
And it's free to NUJ members. At the time of writing there were still spaces available. To register, email email@example.com. They'll need your NUJ membership number (it's on your Press Card if you have one).
- The NUJ's Health and Safety Committee has guidance documents from Before Covid on Home working - good practice, Working from home and Home, remote, "agile" working. While these are aimed primarily at NUJ reps supporting members who are often employees, they have much advice of relevance to freelances working from home too.