How to Set Up a Home Office Space
Think your days working from the kitchen table are over now the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be under control? You wouldn’t want to put money on it.
While there has been a lot of talk about businesses pushing for workers to return to the office, that doesn’t tell the whole story. One survey found that 19% of firms planned to end remote working completely once all pandemic restrictions were lifted. But that was less than half the 42% who said they’d allow at least some of their workforce to work from home some of the time.
What is more, 16% of businesses say they are now exclusively hiring remote workers, for reasons ranging from cutting down on office rents to casting a wider net to find the best candidates. And when you consider stats such as findings that home workers can be as much as 47% more productive compared to when they are in the workplace, this figure may continue to rise.
For all you know, your next role could be a home working position.
The difference now compared to the start of the pandemic is we all know what home working is about. You’re not going to be sent home one day and expected to carry on from whatever quiet corner of the house you can find with the kids off school. If you do go for a home working position, or negotiate flexible arrangements with your present employer, you have time to carve out a nice little home office set up for yourself.
So what exactly do you need from a home office to work at your productive best? Here are the essentials to focus on.
Comfort equals safety
Let’s get this one out the way right off the bat. Working slumped on your sofa or reclined on your bed with your laptop on your knees for hours on end, day in, day out, is bad for you. You might think it’s comfortable at first. But over time you will put your body under considerable strain that could easily lead to long-term injury.
The first rule of home office comfort is to get your workspace ergonomically set up. That means a good quality office chair that supports your back. You want to have your computer screen positioned horizontally to your eyes so you don’t have to tilt your head as you work, which can put your neck under enormous strain. Have items you use regularly in easy reach so you don’t risk pulls and other injuries reaching at a funny angle (yes, it happens).
As well as big ticket items like a desk and chair, invest in things like laptop and screen risers to get your computer in the right position relative to your eyes. Wrist supports for your mouse mat and keyboard help to prevent repetitive strain injuries. Another important principle is to make sure you take regular breaks and move your muscles to keep your circulation flowing. You can do this as you work with a simple rocking footrest for your legs. Better circulation means better focus and productivity, too.
Good storage options will help you beat clutter
One of the things people really struggled with during the pandemic was how to fit all the paraphernalia they needed for work into already crowded family homes. A shortage of space, and especially a shortage of storage space, quickly leads to chaos and clutter. You can’t expect to be at your most productive when you’re scrambling around for that project file you were working on yesterday in amongst all the flotsam and jetsam of domestic life.
Storage and organisation are essential for home offices, and become more important the more tightly squeezed for space you are. Start off by thinking carefully about what you really need to work effectively. Keep things to an absolute minimum. And the things you do need, try to think small. Laptops are far more space efficient than big lumbering desktop computers. Likewise, if you need equipment like a printer, paper shredder, laminator etc, opt for compact desktop models designed for home office use.
The better you organise yourself as you work, the easier it will be to keep things in good order despite your space restrictions. Simple document files and archive boxes can make all the difference if you quickly find your workspace becomes strewn with paper work. Desktop organisers will help you keep stationery and other essentials neat, tidy and in easy reach. You can even buy dual function products these days that will double up as phone chargers and USB hubs.
Light up your work space
If possible, it’s recommended to find a space facing a window for your home office. This will allow you to take advantage of natural daylight. It’s surprisingly easy to strain your eyes by working in gloomy conditions for long hours. At the same time, by having the window in front of your desk, you avoid the problem of glare on your screen.
Invest in some good quality blinds to regulate the amount of sunlight reaching you on the brightest days. And for those short winter afternoons when you may need to work until well after it gets dark, get yourself a lamp. Free standing lamps are the most convenient for moving around to find the optimum position. Choose one with a flexible neck. For energy efficiency, LED bulbs are the best option. Pick bright bulbs with plenty of blue light to help you stay alert even as natural light levels drop.