The perfect home office setup will not only increase comfort but also ensure you and your team stay productive, focused and well-balanced for long periods of time. With the pandemic not going anywhere, we’re all spending more time indoors than we’d like. Therefore it’s important to create a dedicated, well-equipped space just for work. But where to start with a limited budget? We have a few practical tips to help you out to create a healthier work-life balance working from home, simply by setting up the right space to work.
Creating a safe and comfortable environment helps reduce any chance of injury. One of the main problems in a home office is inadequate furniture, so much so that it can cause back pain, carpool tunnel syndrome and other strain injuries. Whilst there are ways to reduce back pain, it’s also important to get to the root of the problem. The knowledge of how to set up the perfect home office that’s right for you will elevate your work-from-home health. In this home office guide, we’ll go through all the different aspects of your home office and how you can make some inexpensive adjustments to spark your productivity. With no back pain, hopefully.
Firstly, find the perfect home office location
Your bed and sofa are not your offices – even if 40% of wfh happens there regularly. To successfully work from home, it’s important to have a dedicated workspace. The reason it’s so important to have a space solely for work is to create an environment that you associate with working and that stimulates you to get into the flow. Ideally, it should be in an area free from distractions and with good lighting. An area with natural light is ideal to help you feel energized and awake by reducing eye strain and headaches.
If you do have the option to turn a spare bedroom into a home office then you’re all set. If not, a garden shed or just sectioning off an area of the house can do the trick. As long as there’s space, a desk and it’s out of the way, you’ve got yourself the base to a perfect home office.
Ergonomic tip: Introduce more movement. The better your body feels, the better you will feel. Some of your work tasks don’t require you a computer (phone calls/ reading) and can be done from different locations in your home by standing or walking.
Furniture: Begin with a desk
Beginning with the base, a desk is where you’ll be getting work done. Ideally, it should be big enough to hold all of your work essentials. These will include a laptop or computer (or both) plus any notes, books, stationery or whatever else is needed for your line of work. The industry standard for desk height is based on writing so it’s crucial to find a height that’s at typing level and it will differ for everyone. This is often seen in desks where the keyboard section can slide out under the main desk. Now, however, we also have the option of an adjustable desk so users can stand and work. For long-term remote workers, this is the best option, especially for back pain.
As it’s not recommended to sit longer than 30 minutes the idea is to alternate between sitting and standing. A study also found that users of standing desks were 45% more productive than those seated. So if you’re looking for some adjustable desk options this list can help narrow down your choices and if your budget is minimal then use your existing desk by making the legs longer with wood or metal rods or even setting them on stable boxes.
However, if you’re not able to upgrade that much then save some cash with the viral “Ikea Converter”. All you need is an Ikea side table, shelf and some brackets and screws. Don’t believe us? The people of Twitter are sharing their own Ikea Converters at #standesk2200. All you need is less than €30 and these instructions.
Ergonomic tip: When setting up your desk, you want your elbows at more than 90 degrees for blood flow and to get wrists in a more neutral position. Avoid wrist extension (wrists bent up) as this increases pressure in the carpal tunnel. Keep the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible to avoid awkward shoulder movements, whilst also ensuring your most frequently used items are in midline, for neutral positioning. The “H” in the keyboard should be aligned with the middle of your body.
Furniture: Find the right chair
Working from home should be enjoyable so it’s important to be comfortable to increase productivity. The right chair is the foundation of the workstation. The key aspects that you should look for in a chair are comfort, height and back support. You will end up spending most of the day sitting there so it should help with your posture rather than add to your health concerns. When choosing your chair check if the height is adjustable and has back and neck support, possibly even an armrest. It can be pricey, but if it’s in budget then it’s a worthwhile investment both for work and your health.
On the home office hacks side, use a piece of rolled-up material like a towel, or even better, a firm pillow on the small of your back. This will provide that extra comfort your body needs when working sat down continuously. Ideally, a seat cushion would help posture and comfort too but again a firm pillow will do just the trick as well. Lastly, use any box, selection of books or any containers as a makeshift footstool. A footstool helps relieve lower back and leg pressure, a must if you’re experiencing leg and back pain and swelling.
Ergonomic tip: If your chair has armrests, they should allow your arms to rest naturally at your sides and lightly touch your elbows to avoid contact stress. You can always add washcloths to add more padding and towel rolls for lumbar support. Keep in mind your feet should rest comfortably on the floor when sitting back in the chair. You can also use a footrest or add cardboard boxes if needed.
Using the right equipment
Technology makes the world go round these days which is why you should have the right equipment. In a survey by Microsoft, 93% of millennials say that the latest modern technology is one of the most important aspects of the workplace. Many remote companies offer equipment as part of their benefits, however, due to the pandemic, not all companies are remote ready. In this case, you should choose your equipment based on your daily uses. A computer or laptop that crashes regularly is of no help to you or your productivity. Begin with some research into the best in your line of work. No need to splurge on a designer’s laptop if you don’t work in design. Instead, start with which platform you use such as Mac or Microsoft and then move onto the size and memory.
A great addition if you choose a laptop over a PC is a laptop stand. These are especially useful to make the screen eye level even if you don’t have an adjustable desk. Another added bonus is if you end up wanting a quick change of scenery you can just take the stand for added stability.
If you don’t work from home then it’s also a good idea to get a headset. Headsets are not only useful for blocking out noise when working but also during video calls. If you and your partner are on calls simultaneously or your kids are playing in the background they’ll block out a lot of the white noise to help you and others in the call focus.
Ergonomic tip: Invest in good quality equipment. More than just buying for the brand, a good piece of equipment will increase efficiency and productivity, reducing your time messing around trying to fix dodgy equipment.
Good WIFI is a MUST
Working remotely can’t be done without WIFI. It’s best to choose a high-speed internet provider with a minimum speed of 50Mbps. However, if there’s more than one person working from home then the speed should be much higher. If you do have a large number of meetings then connect your device to your router via an Ethernet cable as this will keep a steady and strong internet connection throughout.
Lastly, if you haven’t already updated your router to the latest one available call your provider. The latest technology is a lot more efficient and they should provide it for free if you renew your subscription.
Decor: Keep it simple
If you haven’t given your whole space a makeover during quarantine then now’s your chance. When adding any desk items such as candles or storage, make sure you don’t overcrowd the space and keep it simple. A cluttered workspace makes a cluttered mind. Next, by adding splashes of colour you can make the space more inviting and personal. Some great office colours are yellow as it stimulates positivity and creativity, whilst green provides balance and is easy on the eyes, a common colour in offices. Plants are also a great office addition to help bring some nature and life into your everyday setting. Especially if you live in a colder area and don’t leave the house so often. Snake plants and bamboo are great for desks even with low levels of sunlight.
Ergonomic tip : Apply the 20:20:20 rule. For every 20 minutes on your computer or other visually intense work, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Pick something to stare across your room, this helps in changing your focus, giving your eyes a chance to rest.
- Get up and move! Take frequent yet short breaks every 30-60 mins to move around, stretch or indulge in breathing exercises to help with productivity. Set up reminders to achieve these mid-work goals
- If your job involves excessive typing, considering using a voice-to-text app or dictation software. That way, you can cut down on the total amount of time your fingers are on the keyboard.
- Stay well hydrated!
- Ensure a comfortable temperature in the room, use clothing layers if needed.
Remember that it’s not vital to do everything if it’s not possible. Every little change to your home office improves your productivity and work from home life. Gradually build it up and you’ll be a remote work pro in no time!
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