When we moved into our home offices at the start of the pandemic, most of us had a temporary approach to setting up our work spaces. We’ll be back in the office soon, we thought. Working at the kitchen counter would be fine in the interim, we supposed.
The dining room table would be OK too. After all, the kids have been labouring over their homework there for years. The spare room, with its wooden chair, old PC and printer has been fine for short spells of paying bills, doing filing and Skyping with overseas relatives.
Why are home office spaces a must-have?
Many of us have moved to a permanent hybrid setup. But the majority of our at-home setups haven’t been given the careful safety audit we previously benefited from in the office.
Office spaces are designed for long spells of work – easy access to various technology, ergonomically designed chairs, a layout contoured for optimal comfort and collaboration, surfaces dedicated solely to the aesthetics, resources and assets of the business, and a general atmosphere conducive to concentration, uninterrupted by spurts of domestic activity, the chug of washing machines or clacking of dryers or distracting aromas of cooking.
It might seem like the home is the ideally comfortable setting. Couches, chaise lounges and favourite chairs have, after all, settled and moulded over time to our bodies, and cushions can be layered and plumped up and climate control adjusted to preferred settings.
However, many people want to distinguish between their domestic areas of relaxation and their place of work; there’s an innate impulse to segregate the two. The couch in front of the TV is where you want to sink down after you’ve finished with your laptop and printed out spreadsheets. People also tend to gravitate to quiet corners of the house, where they can conduct calls and host meetings and not be drawn by the distractions of open-plan spaces.
Workstations in offices are designed for productivity and to mitigate the effects of sedentary posture. When workstations are designed poorly, fatigued and frustrated workers will be susceptible to aches and stiffness. These workers are rarely the most productive, and they often develop costly and painful musculoskeletal (soft tissue) injuries and disorders.
What are the work from home must haves?
Working from home shouldn’t require much thought, right? Just grab the breakfast bar stool and off you go. Or maybe just grab the old study desk you used when you were at high school, and partner it with the tatty chair in the garage smelling faintly of wood veneer and turpentine, that is only otherwise brought out to accommodate an extra guest at Christmas.
The reality is, working from home without taking some time to prepare your mental and physical environment will cost you much more in the long run. We spend thousands of dollars to ensure we have the correct mattress for the best sleep, yet we look to spend $99 on a chair to provide the best posture and lumbar support in the day. It doesn’t add up.
There are many factors to consider when setting up working from home, either for a portion of the week or as a permanent gig. Your health and wellbeing is certainly top of the list. Here are some working from home must-haves, as well as the best ways to set up your seat, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to ensure you can continue to work at your best from home.
The right chair
Investing in a suitable chair will provide ergonomic support, with an array of choices around style, foam density and adjustability. This is an investment in your posture and lumbar care.
A sit-stand desk
A sit-stand desk is a great asset. It is now well proven that sitting all day is detrimental to your health. If you are not used to standing whilst working, aim to start with just 30 minutes a day, even if that is three 10 minute blocks, or the first 30 minutes after lunch.
Lunch and other breaks
You need to separate your work and home life. Your lunch break is not the time to throw on a load of washing or vacuum the lounge room. If the weather is great, head outside to eat. Go for a walk around the block and create that necessary physical and mental separation. Don’t scoff down your food in a mood of harried preoccupation about work matters.
Dress and act the part
Get dressed for work, leave the house and walk or drive to a local café and then return home. Start on tasks in a frame of mind that you are attending work. At the end of the day do the reverse: to the fruit shop and then return home to be present at home with family.
If you don’t make an effort to compartmentalise your life you can be lulled into a 14 hour day at your computer, doing some housework, going back to your desk, watching a daytime soap and then returning back for more work. Before you know it, it’s 10pm and time for bed. Make sure at least a portion of your day is spent beyond a twenty-metre radius.
Adjust your equipment to prevent head and neck injuries
Minimise headaches and neck stiffness by making sure you maintain a good posture while at your desk. You can do this by placing your monitor directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. If you are using a laptop, you can use a laptop riser for comfortable viewing. An ergonomic set up at home is as consequential as one at work.
If you need the right home office set-up, you can always rely on our Office National or Office Products Depot locations. We can help you put together the best ergonomic workplace that will make working from home seamless, comfortable and productive.