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Efficiency in the home

In many homes space is at a premium and even larger houses - especially modern ones - don't always take into account how people actually live.

Sometimes just rearranging furniture or introducing systems can radically change the way you live and make life a lot easier

Now we are cooking

The kitchen is probably the part of the home in which small changes bring the biggest rewards. Also, kitchens are often designed to look good rather than function well. Kitchen fashions can be ergonomic nightmares!

Great if you can afford a new kitchen. You can plan it around your needs. But is there anything you can do if you are stuck with what you have got? Either way we hope you find some useful ideas in these introductory tips:

  • Unless you really need the exercise, keep "the work triangle" - the distance between the principal work centres (cooker, sink and fridge) - as compact as possible, with the main work surfaces between
  • Store things next to where they will be used (eg cereal bowls with cereal boxes?)
  • Store the most used items where you don't need to bend or stretch (eg a fridge-freezer should have the fridge at the top)
  • Labour-saving gadgets often cause more work in cleaning and putting away. If you have the space keep them in a counter-level cupboard (with power sockets) - then you only need to pull them forward to use
  • Give work areas good illumination from appropriate spotlights or task lamps
  • Double the number of power sockets you originally thought of (and position them a little higher so they don't get hidden behind the toaster?)
  • If doors open the wrong way, rehang them
  • The oven should be at chest height
  • Tiered shelves and carousels make it easier to find things in cupboards

Around the home

  • Install lights in deep, dark cupboards and use roll out storage trolleys
  • Rehang doors so you get the widest possible view of the room as you enter
  • Have a system for managing incoming post so it doesn't end up behind the clock!
  • Cupboards in the hall for bags can stop it looking like a jumble sale
  • Logical filing and storage systems are just as important for your home office as at work
  • Duvets make bedmaking and laundry easier
  • Why do you always need to bend over to use power sockets? Reposition them higher

Efficiency in the office and workplace

  • Ergonomics and usability should be the priority when choosing furniture and equipment
  • Agree rules for e-mail so it supports the business needs and doesn't distract or cause stress to workers
  • Give personal printers to people who need to print a lot - or at least position network printers near them to save time and energy
  • Where possible standardise on equipment, systems and procedures
  • Give good, regular training to everyone - not just when things are introduced
  • Make sure everyone can control the lighting on their desk - desk lamps shouldn't be manager status symbols
  • Everyone should have access to personal storage and coat hangers at or near to their work space if possible
  • Have a rule that meeting rooms are cleared and whiteboards cleaned immediately a meeting finishes - whoever has used it!