The somewhat unplanned requirement for a home office has resulted in temporary solutions to possible long-term problems, which need to be addressed in order to maintain workers productivity. As more of us continue to work from home there are many positives; less distraction and noise, no commuting stress, more personal surroundings, and most importantly some would argue – comfy clothes! Comfy clothes aside, work still has to be productive and I’m looking this week at tips to set up an ideal home office. Below I’ve put together a list to help choose the place, equipment and other elements to help set up the perfect space.
Invest Wisely in a Comfortable Chair
Let’s face it, you’re going to spend many hours of your day on it so let it be comfortable. Choosing a good office chair can be challenging but crucial, as it is the heart of the home office. Investing in a good one will make a big difference to your daily work life. Don’t be tempted to use your dining or favourite kitchen chair – this can only lead to bad posture and even injury. These chairs are rarely at the correct height. Take your new office chair for a spin in person if possible in order to guage a precise fit. Your new best work mate should be adjustable in height, provide lumbar support, with added adjustable tilt, arm height and lateral arm position. The arm rest is not there for you to lean on! and is only beneficial if used correctly. What do I mean by this? Your forearm should rest lightly on the arm rest, which acts as a guide to keeping your arm in the correct position.
What Space do I need?
The ideal space is a small room that has enough space for a desk, computer and associated equipment. Many homes have guest bedrooms which may be converted to an office space. Other spaces suitable for a home office can include an enclosed porch, utility room or even a garden shed. If any of these spaces are unavailable for work use, finding a niche space can also work if it is out of the household’s way but try not to work in various places. When choosing your space, bare in mind storage requirements, the need for conference calls, and how to keep the kids and pets out when necessary! Make sure you have adequate heat and good ventilation. The World Health Organisation’s recommendation for room temperature is 18 degrees Celsius, 16 degrees Celsius for anyone with respiratory conditions and for the sick, very old and very young 20 degrees Celsius.
What is the Correct Work Desk Height?
Twenty eight to thirty inches from the floor to the top of the work surface is the industry standard desk height. This industry standard is based on writing on paper, and importantly not based on using a keyboard or mouse, and so the necessity for a keyboard tray an inch or two lower than the desk height. This tray must be wide enough to hold both keyboard and mouse. Otherwise, the desk should be lowered to the tray height. You know you are at the correct height if when sitting up straight, your forearms are parallel to the ground and your wrists are not bending up or down when typing or moving a mouse. Fingers should be curved slightly down towards the keyboard.
What about the new Standing Trend?
I think we can all agree that sitting for very long periods of time is not good for our health. Some of today’s workers have embraced standing desks. A standing desk does exactly what it says on the tin! A tall desk which you stand at. The majority of these desks are adjustable and have a focus on heart health. If you are not convinced by the idea, you may consider using a desk extender which are adjustable and less expensive than investing in another piece of office furniture.
What about Monitor?
Find your productivity superpower and get multi-tasking with a second monitor. Avoid buying the cheapest monitors as they can lead to eyestrain over a prolonged period due to low screen resolution. If you are currently using a laptop and need a monitor, try to get one whose specifications exceed or at least meet that of your current computer. Display resolutions with high sharpness are preferable. The height of the monitor should be at a height where looking straight ahead when sitting straight, eyes should be at least 25% to 30% below the top of the screen. Shoulders should be kept level with back straight to avoid any injury.
What About your old Friends? The Mouse and Keyboard
The old reliables, often neglected and forgotten, yet crucial to your daily work routine. Mechanical keyboards may be noisy but offer great comfort of use. I’m all for comfort! A large mouse reigns over the small travel mouse as it fits in your hand better, though tend to be more expensive, but worth it!
How Important is Lighting?
Get as much natural light as possible. Study has show that adults who get natural light sleep better…so more productivity! However, as we head towards winter, ambient light plays an important role. Add some character and warmth to your space with an on-trend rope light which will give a soft glow to your space. The brightness of the computer monitor as well as indirect lighting is extremely important to avoid glare and other competing light sources. The brightness of the monitor should not be too bright nor too dim, ie. the light intensity should be a little brighter than ambient lighting which is sufficient lighting to read without additional lighting. Also, it is necessary to be aware of any indirect lighting such as light reflecting off the monitor or sunlight reflection off a window. This can cause extra glare.
Finally, Go Green, Increase your Joy at Work and be your own Productive Boss
Green plants will not only brighten your space but will help filter the air, but be sure to pick an easily maintained plant. You may not want to work in a jungle! When choosing your wall colours do some research on the psychology of colour. Avoid dark colours as they can drain your energy. Go for a bright energising colour to give your productivity a boost. Adding personality to your décor will allow you to shine through along with your work!