Working from home is quickly growing in popularity, with the majority of businesses and freelancers reporting higher productivity and job satisfaction. Being productive while working from home requires a well-designed workspace where you feel relaxed and ready to work throughout the day.
With countries across the world introducing social distancing policies, many of you may be preparing to work from home for the first time. To help you get ready for remote work, here are 5 tips on creating a workspace at home that works for you.
1. Take Ergonomics Seriously
It is easy to take the ergonomics of your current office for granted, but this is an important consideration when designing your own workspace. You need to be comfortable working full-time at your desk and take steps to avoid the potential health problems associated with being at a desk all day.
Sitting down all day can cause circulation and posture problems, but you might not want to be on your feet at a standing desk all day either. An adjustable desk lets you quickly change your posture with minimal interruption to your work. Electric models such as Evodesk can remember multiple heights and angles, letting you adjust your posture throughout the day.
If you don’t have the money or space for a fully adjustable desk, you can also use standing desk conversion kits such as the WorkFit-TX to turn your current work desk into an adjustable standing desk.
Make sure that both the standing and sitting positions of your desk don’t keep your neck or shoulders hunched over as you work. Take the time to keep adjusting your desk until you find sitting and standing positions that enable you to maintain good posture.
Your chair needs to properly support your back, neck, and legs in addition to just being comfortable. A bad chair can cause pain and stiffness in your back and joints, and can also cause poor circulation. Discomfort from sitting in an uncomfortable chair can distract you from your work as well as affect your health.
Make sure your chair supports your lower back and enables you to sit naturally with your legs and back at right angles. An angled footrest can also help you achieve better posture.
While ergonomics should be your primary concern when buying a chair for your workspace, it is also worth remembering that on video calls with co-workers and clients your chair is one of the most visible aspects of your workspace. So although gaming chairs often have excellent ergonomic designs, you might not want to buy one decked out in garish neon colors.
2. Consider Lighting and Airflow
Insufficient light will strain your eyes and make it hard to work for long periods. Choose a location for your workspace that gets as much natural light as possible, but make sure you won’t be working with sun glare on your screen. Thin blinds or a glare-resistant screen cover can help reduce this issue while still being able to work in an area with lots of sunlight.
Mood lighting systems make it easier to create lighting that eases the strain on your eyes especially when working in the evening or at night, just make sure to go with a system that provides enough light to work by. These also enable you to easily adjust your lighting throughout the day to take advantage of natural light or use less harsh lighting in the evening.
Similarly, a stuffy and airless room is not going to help you concentrate, so larger spaces are often preferable. Windows and skylights can help a lot with airflow, but this should be balanced with the need to block out outside noise. If your window opens onto a busy road, you might not be able to use it to improve your airflow.
3. Avoid Distracting Environments
If possible, create a dedicated workspace where you won’t be disturbed by other members of your household. Try to work far away from sources of noise such as the TV or kitchen.
Depending on the layout of your home you might not be able to work in a location that is completely free of noise, however, sound dampening panels or noise-cancelling headphones can both help to block out distracting noise.
4. Use Communication Tools
Working from home doesn’t mean you won’t be communicating with your co-workers and clients, so the tools to do this effectively are an important part of getting ready to work from home. Team apps like Zoom or Slack enable you to easily create tasks and discussion groups for your team, as well as providing an easy method to share work files with co-workers.
It is also useful to have communication methods you can use when your team is offline. An SMS app enables you to schedule and send urgent messages to your workgroups. This can be used to make sure everyone gets important messages such as reminders for an upcoming meeting and means you can respond faster to urgent situations such as your website going down. Using a texting app to manage your work contacts and schedule messages is a great way to streamline your work and spend less time doing admin.
5. Keep It Tidy
This may be an obvious point, but it’s just easier to work in a tidy, uncluttered environment. Make sure you have enough storage space to keep any devices or work equipment out of your way when you don’t need them.
Keeping your workplace tidy should also apply to the many cables you need for all of your devices. In addition to making your workspace feel more cluttered, the time you waste identifying and untangling the cables you need adds up. It can also break your concentration and get you annoyed while you are trying to focus on work. Keeping cables tucked away is easy enough with a USB hub and a few cheap cable ties, so there is no excuse for having a jumble of cables across your workspace.
It is vital to keep your workspace as free from distraction as possible, so pick a location where you won’t be disturbed, and take sound and lighting into account. You also can’t ignore the need to consider your own health when designing your workspace, so make sure you will be able to work comfortably and focus on tasks throughout the day. High-quality office furniture is worth investing in if it saves you long-term issues and enables you to concentrate on your work.