Working From Home: Tips For The Perfect Home Office
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that came with it, more of us around the UK are considering our working habits and whether we can be effective working from home (if not all the time).
Hunching over a coffee table or sitting on a dining chair isn’t the most enjoyable scenario. So if you’re going to be home working more often, why not create a comfortable, cosy and organised home office? Here’s some tips on how to achieve the perfect home office setup.
First, we need to choose where the home office will be. For most, it’s a spare bedroom. You can either convert a spare, unused room into a dedicated home office, or perhaps re-arrange some furniture to fit yourself in comfortably.
Make sure you’ve got plenty of natural light, so you don’t feel groggy and disconnected too much from the world when you’ve got your head in your inbox for hours on end. Multiple scientific studies have linked the quality of the light to the level of productivity of workers. Colour temperature plays a huge role in how productive you’ll be. Seasonal affective disorder can totally derail your productivity during the winter months, but that’s massively reduced if you’ve got a natural source of light.
Also – consider what’s behind you! More of us are engaging with colleagues and customers via digital video calls, using tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Make sure you’ve got a nice, professional environment to present and be seen in.
Having a great workspace is essential to being productive and enjoying your time whilst working from home. A great desk is key… it takes centre stage in your home office and is where all the work is being done.
Ensure that you have enough desk space for your computer or laptop and all peripherals (mouse, keyboard, monitor(s), speakers, printer etc, plus of course some space for writing. Considering the home office storage you’ll need, look for desks with built-in drawers for keeping things neat and tidy. You can also opt for some freestanding cabinets or shelving units for additional storage if you’re going for a full home office room conversion.
Also consider anything below the desk. If you’re going to have cables for power running down, you’ll want a cable hole to keep everything tucked away nicely.
When it comes to the chair, choose one with adjustable armrests and lumbar support, so you can be in the optimal seating position for working comfortably without the risk of additional strain on muscles or your back.
We mentioned lighting earlier. Sound is another one. Rather than sitting in absolute silence (which you wouldn’t have in a normal office) you can add some background sound. We recommend avoiding the news or TV, as this can provide an unwelcome distraction from your work.
Better, invest in a smart speaker (such as the Amazon Echo or Apple’s HomePod) and you can enjoy some soft, soothing background music. Many services have ‘focus’ playlists with some ambient music that can help your mind work.
In addition, a smart speaker can connect to your email, calendar and more to give you vital information throughout the day. Even as simple as asking it how long it’ll take you to get to your next meeting!
Making sure you can get online and access your home network is vital. If you’ve not got good WiFi signal in your new home office, consider a couple of ways to improve things. A wireless extender can plug into the wall socket and boost the signal from your router. However, it’s likely you’ll lose some speed through this, so although it’s a cheap solution, it’s not ideal.
A better idea is to get a Powerline adaptor set. One plugs into the wall near your router and connects to it via ethernet cable. The other plugs into the wall near your laptop/computer and connects to that via ethernet cable.
The powerline system uses your home’s electrical wiring to send the signal, meaning you get a much faster connection – depending on the condition of your home’s wiring of course.
Some final tips
Ergonomics are important. Whilst an ergonomic chair might cost more than other chairs, you’ll really feel the benefits long term by being healthier and more comfortable when you’re working. Similarly, the top of your monitor should be at eye level, and if you use a mouse a lot consider an ergonomic mouse mat to avoid wrist strain.
2. Take a break.
Make sure to take regular breaks. Grab a cup of tea, read a bit of a book or take a quick walk in the fresh air. Escape the screens.
3. Don’t guilt-trip yourself.
Many people when working from home avoid taking breaks as they feel guilty. You still need (and are entitled to) regular breaks which are good for mental clarity and overall wellbeing. You have a more flexible schedule, so use it.
4. Get moving.
It’s super important to stay active and healthy. When working from home, your office is dangerously close to your TV, your bed and your fridge. It’s too easy to fall into bad habits so taking the time to get out and run, cycle or walk really has its advantages for your long-term physical and mental health.
A home office is definitely a long-term investment. You’re changing a part of your home for your work, so you want to make sure that you do thing properly. There’s plenty of guides out there looking to save you money on absolutely everything, but cheap isn’t always best. Rather than taking the ease, cheaper route, invest a little in a proper home office setup and enjoy where you’re working.