More people work from home than ever before. Nowadays, there are many workers today who have never even stepped foot inside an office which isn't in their home. This shift in work spaces comes with the responsibility of making your office safe, comfortable, and productive. After all, there are no excuses for poor working conditions at home - you are your own boss. Not only is a well-designed home office vital to your wellbeing, it can even be your secret weapon to achieve higher productivity.
The 7 tips below will help you design a home workspace that promotes health, comfort, and productivity.
#1: Listen to your body
A good place to start when designing a home office is to consider the needs of your body. Workplace designers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend determining where your body hurts and then responding accordingly. For example, if your back hurts or you are prone to repetetive stress injuries, then ergonomics will be important for you. Eye strain? Consider the lighting in your space.
#2: Consider appropriate lighting
According to the American Optimetric Association, you are likely to spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of a computer screen. Brightly lit work places sound attractive, but consider that glare on monitors can cause squinting and eye strain. For that reason, OSHA recommends avoiding working in direct light. Making maximum use of natural light (keeping in mind avoidance of direct glare, even from outside) not only helps your eyes, but has even been found to improve overall mood and productivity. To avoid glare, use a supplemental desk lamp pointed down instead of relying on harsh overhead light. Position your monitor so that windows run alongside the workstation, not behind or in front of it. Tilt your monitor so that you don't have to bend your neck to see clearly.
#3: Use the best furniture combination
Choice of furniture can make a huge impact on ergonomics and your general comfort level. The single most important piece of furniture in your home office—and the first you should change—is your office chair. If you think about it, you will be spending as much time in your office chair as you might in your bed. Therefore, it's important to make sure that it's comfortable and suits your needs prior to making any purchase. All components of your chair (lumbar support, armrest and seat height) should be easily adjustable.
To accompany the chair, get a desk that is height adjustable. You might also want consider an anti-fatique mat if you find yourself constantly standing at your desk.
#4: Keep your layout flexible
When laying out your office, keep in mind that your work habits may change over time. You may find, for example, that you do a lot of pacing on long calls, or that youmay not need filing cabinets since you don't have too much paperwork. Therefore, keep your layout modular and mobile. It's a good idea to rely on wheeled furniture for better mobility.
#5: Consider other factors for maximum comfort
Keep in mind any other factors that might keep you from working productively. Are you sensitive to noise (do you have pets or children)? If so, you might want to consider soundproofing your office. This might be out of your budget, but you can easily download apps like Noizi to create ambient noise.
Dont forget to consider your emotional health. If you are anxious, you might benefit from organizing your office. If you feel isolated, personalizing your workplace could help. Last but not least, don't ignore the temperature of your room. Avoid extremes, determine what is most comfortable and makes you most productive, and then stick with it.
#6: Establish boundaries
It is tempting to place your workspace right in the middle of the action in your home, especially if your other work duties include parenting. However, it is vital to establish boundaries between your personal and professional space. Many people try to get away with a small office in their bedroom or other personal living area. Unfortunately, this only leads to further distractions. Make sure anyone sharing your home respects your work hours.
#7: Treat your office like an office.
Remember that the purpose of your office is to complete work. When setting up your office, it may be tempting to get carried away and turn it into something akin to a home entertainment center. Restrict yourself: a reliable desk, a desktop or laptop computer, an ergonomically correct chair are all very appropriate. A 60” flatscreen TV hanging on a wall probably isn't. It might seem like a simple thing, but your office will be a more condusive to productivity if you remember it's purpose from the very beginning.
Do any of these ways to design a productive home office stand out for you? Were there any you think we missed? Please feel free to share in the comments below.