Working from home has its pros and cons and it’s important to look after your mental and physical health while making this transition. If you’re struggling to set up a home office space that works for you, we’ve compiled some expert tips on how to create a comfortable workplace at home.
Whatever your profession, it’s likely that you’ve found your regular routine upended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us have found ourselves working from home out of choice or necessity over the past year, since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Over the course of that time, you may have been able to set yourself up in a home office, or you may still be working from your kitchen table or bed.
Although there are some definite perks of working from home – lie-ins every day, anyone? – it also has some potential downsides. Issues such as noise and space could contribute to a fall in productivity or an inability to concentrate. Similarly, you might find yourself experiencing some unfortunate side effects of working from home, such as neck and back pain or postural problems. Luckily, there are a few tips that experts suggest that can improve your home office setup and help minimize these types of struggles. Here are 7 tips for setting up the perfect home office:
1. Update Your Equipment
At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us were making the best of a bad situation. We’d been told to work from home, but we assumed this would be a temporary state of affairs. Therefore, most people did not immediately look into setting up a home office for themselves as they believed they’d be back in their real offices in just a few weeks.
However, as time has passed, it’s become increasingly clear that the workplace landscape has shifted permanently. Those of us working from home should not be thinking about returning to our usual workplaces but planning to create a permanent workspace at home. If you don’t already have all the home office equipment you need, now might be the time to start investing in it.
For example, if you always need to be online to work, you might be better off purchasing a home office computer or PC rather than relying solely on a laptop. A desktop computer is likely to be more suited to working long hours online or for storing more data. Similarly, if you’re now required to have a lot of online meetings, making sure that you have a good microphone and webcam could be essential.
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2. Look After Your Eyes
Working at a screen all day can be tough on your eyes. Making sure that your home office lighting is appropriate is a good way to ensure that you don’t strain your vision. Turning down the brightness on your screen or using a blue light filter are also good ways to protect your eyes. However, if you spend long periods of time reading through paper documents, it’s easy for your eyes to get tired if your workspace isn’t properly lit.
A desk lamp or reading lamp can be a great addition to your home office. A lamp can offer more targeted light than an overhead bulb. Lighting your office according to your tastes can also help you enjoy spending time there more, as lighting can help set the mood you want to achieve. A lamp can also be an important style feature of your home office décor.
3. Get an Ergonomic Chair
Sitting all day can be bad for your health. Not only does sitting increase the likelihood of back problems it can also lead to aches and pains in your hips, shoulders, and neck. Choosing an ergonomic desk chair that allows you to adjust the height and back of your seat is a good way to protect your joints against stress.
Try to choose a chair that has armrests that allow your elbows to rest at a 90-degree angle at your sides. Ideally, it should also offer lumbar support so that your spine can curve naturally when you sit, reducing strain on the lower vertebrae. If you still find sitting all day tough, why not turn a counter in your home into a standing desk? This can reduce the risk of circulatory problems brought on by sitting and is better for your overall health.
4. Check Your Desk Height
If you are sitting behind a desk all day, it’s vital to ensure that it’s the right height and depth for you. If you’re sitting at a desk that is too low, this can lead to problems with your neck if you have to crane your head down to see your work. Similarly, a desk that is too high can lead to problems with your elbows and wrist joints.
The depth of space beneath your desk is also something you should consider so that you have appropriate legroom. Squeezing your legs into a small space can lead to stiffness in the knees and can cause poor circulation. If you’re buying a new desk or searching for home office desk ideas online, it’s a good idea to get your leg measurements first. If you’re still struggling with aches and pains from working at your desk, a handheld massager can be a great tool for loosening up fatigued joints.
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5. Declutter Your Space
Sometimes, the best way to get the most out of working from home is to declutter your workspace. If you don’t stay on top of your home office organization, you could soon find yourself working in a mess. This is bad for your mental health and will likely decrease your output and the quality of your work.
If you’re not a natural neat freak, don’t worry! There are plenty of straightforward ways you can free up some space on your desk. Handy home office accessories, like plastic storage containers or large folders, can be a great way to set aside things you aren’t using. You don’t even have to arrange files neatly – just try to ensure that you always have a clean space on your desk before you sit down to work each morning.
However, if a decluttered space is very important to you, it might be worth investing in some new office furniture. Browsing through standing storage units can be a great way to gather home office décor ideas. You could also use your previous workplace as home office inspiration to create a space where you feel truly productive at home.
6. Protect Your Hands and Wrists
If you work from a computer or laptop at home, you might find that you spend all day typing. Once you’re working from home, this workload is no longer broken up by the routine of office life. There are no meetings to attend and no social breaks to indulge in.
Typing all day can be tough on your hand and wrist joints and, over time, can lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms of carpal tunnel include pain in the bones of the hand and numbness or tingling that spreads down the wrists. If you have noticed yourself developing these symptoms or you’re struggling with upper arm or shoulder pain, try raising the height of your keyboard.
Carpal tunnel usually strikes when our hands are higher than our elbows when we type. If you haven’t got a desk that is the right height for you, try propping yourself up on a cushion. Alternatively, you could buy a platform for your laptop, or try resting it on a pile of books to improve the angle that it sits at.
7. Let Your Décor Inspire You
First and foremost, you want your home workspace to be a room that inspires you and makes you want to work. You will feel more inclined to work if you are happy spending time in this room. For this to be the case, you should aim to make your home office layout comfortable, functional, and stylish.
Although spending money on home office designs might feel like an unnecessary indulgence, it can be a vital boost to your mental health. Leaving the routine of your office can make it difficult to focus or to impose a structured work routine from home. You may also struggle with the loss of social relationships that office environments foster. Focusing on making your home office a place where you love to be can really alleviate some of this burden and help you feel happy to work.
If you haven’t got the luxury of separate office space at home, clearing a corner in your bedroom or living room can have the same effect. Try to ensure that the space is clean and orderly and set up in a way you like. You could also put up some home office pictures that make you feel good or that inspire you when you see them. This will help you feel more like getting off the couch and getting down to business.
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Moving from the office to working from home can be a big transition. Creating a healthy home office space could make a difference in terms of managing your stress levels and adapting to this change. Stuck for inspiration? Check out some home office layout ideas online and get to work up-styling your home!
Final Call: Have you transitioned to working from home during the pandemic? How have you made your home office space work for you? Do you prefer working at home or are you excited to return to the office? Let us know in the comments!
This article is written by Kevin Nelson. Kevin is a content writer for about 3 years. He studied Design and Arts at College in Pennsylvania. A fan of home interior design and, he has taken it upon himself to spread his love for decorating homes by informing people of some of his ideas through his articles.