So, 2020 has shown us that working from home is not just a “perk of the job” but a workable alternative to the daily commute. One thing that will help us work efficiently is making sure we have the correct working environment conducive to working well.
Getting It Right from The Start
The importance of a correctly working home office setup cannot be over stated. Getting it right from day one is important, start as you mean to go on. Better to take the time at the beginning to get the desk, chair and monitor set up correctly than be plagued with a nagging sore back after a couple of weeks. Having worked in many locations, sometimes temporarily for a couple of months at a time, I know how easy it is to argue that its only a couple of months, it only temporary. I mean, I’m sure in March 2020 a lot of us thought just this, but now companies are looking at longer term working from home arrangements, and some are even looking at the current scenario being a permanent feature. Some people will find the prospect of a permanent work from home culture as perfect for them, some not so much. Whatever your thoughts on this, I think that work from home office set-ups will become more and more common in the future. So let me go though each section in turn and advise best practices.
Chair and Desk Set Up
The most important thing for a comfortable office environment is the chair. Without a chair which supports your back and keeps it straight you will be setting yourself up for future back problems. The chair should be adjustable so that it can be at the correct height for the desk, and therefore the monitor. When you sit in it, your feet should be flat on the floor, or can rest on a footrest if you prefer. Your legs should be at around be roughly at a 90 to 110 degree angles to your thighs with plenty of legroom. Your hips should sit back in the chair as far as possible, with the chair supporting the curve in the lower back. Your upper back should be straight with your shoulders relaxed at your side.
The desk should be at a height where your lower arms form a 90 degree angle while relaxed. Your wrists should be straight and your fingers should relaxed. To read about buying the right chair for you, take a look at this. and for desk ideas go here, or for corner desks try here.
There are many types available, some come with the computer if it a desk top. Of course some people find that they will just use their laptops for working from home. I completely disagree with this, for the following reasons – the keyboard is small and the screen is usually at completely the wrong height. The top of the monitor should be at eye level and laptops seldom are unless you use an angled laptop stand. You should be aiming for the monitor to be approximately 20′ – 28′ ( 50 – 70 cm) from your eyes as this should reduce eye strain. To read about buying the perfect monitor click here.
Lighting is one of those things which is most likely to be overlooked when it comes to the working home office set up. It, however, is very important when it comes to ensuring you don’t get tired eyes or over strain your eyes. There should be a definite combination of natural light from a window wherever possible as well as available artificial light. This also depends on the task in hand. Reading over documents may require more light than say, watching something on the screen. For the zoom / Team meetings it is usually better if you are not sitting in from of a window as the light coming in overwhelms the camera and makes the face appear darker. Is the lighting in your home office adjustable? One place people tend to work is at the kitchen table and although the table may be at the correct height there is a good chance that the lighting will be harsh, okay for the odd hour or two to check emails but for working full time will be too bright. The light should be a warm, neutral white, never glaring like from a fluorescent light strip. You should also ensure that there are not strong light sources causing glare on the screen which will be distracting.
Location, Location, Location
One thing I didn’t touch on is exactly where to set up the office, I have seen photos of people working in living rooms, kitchens, spare rooms on a bed and on small trays on their laps – putting the lap into laptop. Its clear that lots of people do not have the space to set up a spare room as an office, however, wherever possible it should be recommended. The ability to have a dedicated place in order to keep documents and things being worked on behind a closed door, makes it safe from prying eyes as well as being a mental barrier. Once the end of the day and work has finished, the door can be closed and work can be forgotten about until the following day. There is also the fact that you will (mostly) have privacy to conduct any meetings or telephone calls that are required – we have all seen the video of the children coming into the room when the guy is on the important meeting on TV but these sorts of intrusions can be kept to a minimum with a separate “dedicated” office space.
There are obviously many factors in setting up your own perfect home office setup and a lot of it will depend on space availability and budget for extra equipment. It is clear though, hopefully, that with a bit of knowledge you can set one up which is both functional and also conducive to working efficiently. I hope to go into more detail on each of these areas and possible show you examples in future posts. Please keep looking and of course, if you have any questions feel free to message me at anytime.