Working from home is hardly a new phenomenon, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it an unplanned requirement for many office and knowledge workers. Working from home offers many advantages, including the flexibility of setting your own schedule, saving time and money by eliminating your daily commute, and with minimal overhead. But being successful in a home office requires creating a space that promotes efficiency in a non-traditional work environment.
But many people have set up makeshift home offices for the pandemic that won’t work well for the long term. In addition to having the right equipment, the physical setup — the ergonomics of the workspace — is critical, especially around avoiding repetitive strain injuries that a bad setup can cause.
Here’s what you need to to set up workplace while working from home.
Get some solutions for setting up your home office so that it works just how you need it. To begin planning, let’s look at the top needs and solutions for a great home office:
- Plan what you need
What you’ll need in your office will depend on the type of work you do. You might require both a small desk for your computer and a larger table or workspace for your artwork if you’re a graphic artist. A consultant might require additional space for file cabinets or an area set aside for meeting with clients. Plan ahead for all the things that you’ll need to work comfortably and efficiently in your home office. Start with proper temperature control and lighting.
- Choose a dedicated area and private space
While working from home, your office should be in a quiet area that allows you some privacy. This is especially important if you share the house with a spouse, children, or roommates. You might find that a spare room with a door can reduce noise from the rest of the house if you’ll be on the phone frequently. It could make sense to choose a room near the front entrance of the house if you’ll be meeting with clients in your home office. You might need a dedicated studio that’s separate from the rest of your home if you need space to spread out design or tech equipment.
Distractions from family members, pets, and televisions can hamper your productivity. Set up a dedicated home office in the quietest area of your home, which is away from the bustle of everyday life family members respect your private time by using a visual cue, such as a “Do Not Disturb” sign, especially when participating on audio and video calls. That’s why you want to make sure you carve out space in your home that’s quiet and, preferably, can be closed off for conference calls and videoconferencing sessions.Here you can find How to separate distractions while working from home.
- Get a writing surface or desk
Making a sudden switch to a home office after years of working in a corporate environment can be disruptive enough — the last thing you want is to be uncomfortable on top of it all. Probably the most important piece of furniture you’ll have will be your desk. Whether you select a custom-designed desk or use two file cabinets with a door stretched across them, it should be large enough and the right height to comfortably do your work.
- Incorporate a standing desk
Working from home means spending a lot of time at your desk. So, you want to invest in a desk that fits your budget, your workflow, and your space. And, you want a desk that contributes to your productivity by helping you stay comfortable all day. Dave Hulst from Bush Business Furniture points out that “sitting all day and standing all day can cause both aches and pains or even long-term health issues.” If you’re using a laptop, there are endless options for how to set up your layout.
One idea, if you can swing it, is a standing desk, one that can easily convert from being usable while sitting to one that’s usable while standing. The advantage is that it forces you to get up off your tush — the medical community calls a new disease and it’s very unhealthy to spend hours and hours sitting behind a desk. A standing desk helps keep you from sitting still for too long. Utilize a motorized standing desk that can be easily adjusted to a standing or sitting position. Although, these motorized desks can be expensive. Another option is a tabletop standing desk that sits on top of a traditional desk.
- Apply principles of Feng Shui when positioning your desk
If your workspace is making you feel sluggish rather than energized, consider rearranging it according to Feng shui practices. According to Feng shui practitioners, it’s important to place your desk in a “commanding position.” This position requires that your back does not face the door and that your desk isn’t near the door. The best position is diagonal to the room’s entrance with you facing the door. It’s preferable to have strong backing placed behind you, such as a solid wall, rather than an opening or window.
- Include natural light and proper lighting in your home office
It’s very easy to underestimate the effects of your work environment on your ability to work. Lighting is often an area people don’t think about. It’s extremely important to have proper lightning while working from home. To reduce eye strain, have lighting installed over your reading area, on the computer, and behind you so that there’s no reflection off the computer monitor. Improper lighting can cause eye fatigue and drowsiness, which hinders productivity.Working in a space with natural light can reduce headaches and eyestrain, allowing you to be more productive on a day-to-day basis and healthier in the long term.
Set up your home office where you get as much natural light as possible. It can help you feel good and may even boost your productivity. If nothing else, using natural light to light up your office is better for the environment.
- Set aside a place for gadgets
It’s easy to become distracted when you working from home,don’t have a supervisor or manager looking over your shoulder all the time, and this is especially true if you keep your gadgets with you in your office.
You might occasionally need to use your devices for work, but your home office will be a more productive space if you have a dedicated spot where you store your smartphone, tablet, and other gadgets when they’re not in use.
- Good internet bandwidth
Your company’s office likely enjoys high-speed internet, available both through Wi-Fi and available Ethernet jacks. Your home may not be quite as well-equipped for staying connected all day. One additional consideration, though, is that now that you’re working from home, your bandwidth use could impact your family’s online experience. Making sure that you have enough bandwidth to meet not just your work needs, but your family’s as well, can help keep the peace — something you’ll need now that you’ll be working in such close proximity with your family.
Most urban and suburban areas have at least one high-speed provider for internet service; 50Mbps is the minimum speed to shoot for, and the more people using the internet at the same time, the more you want to get a higher-speed service.
The bandwidth within your home matters too. The best connections are wired Ethernet ones, so if possible, connect your computer to your router via an Ethernet cable; that’s especially important if you do video or other bandwidth-intensive work. Wi-Fi is fine for basic office work, so if you can’t wire your computer to your router, use Wi-Fi.
- Have a way to keep time
Research has found that you’ll be more productive if you get up and move around a bit throughout the day. These brief mental rest periods break up the workday and can improve your focus, but it’s easy to forget about time when you’re working from home. Before you know it, you’ve worked 14 hours for the third day in a row.
Workers in a home office are more likely to overwork than those in a traditional workspace. Have some way in place to track time while working from home, whether it’s a clock on the wall or the alarm on your phone.