Now’s the time to set up a workspace that is practical, ergonomically suitable and welcoming: Kleopatra Kivrakidou from Ergotron describes how to set up a safe and productive home workspace
Before Christmas, few of us could have predicted that we would be heading into 2021 knowing that our work-from-home routines are likely to continue well into the first half of the year, if not permanently. But a third nationwide lockdown means millions of us are once again facing the daily practical realities of working from home for the foreseeable future.
If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, now is the time, once and for all, to set up a workspace that is practical, ergonomically suitable, and welcoming. In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, here is our list of ideas for setting up a safe and productive home workspace.
Create a designated workspace
Not everyone has an extra room they can turn into a dedicated home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze a desk and some essential home office storage into your bedroom or living space.
Creating a designated workstation that you treat as an office – rather than relying on your bed or sofa – will help you stay focused on the task in hand. Plus, having a dedicated space just for work, which you can ‘leave’ at the end of the working day, creates a measure of differentiation between your workspace and your home. This is vital for maintaining the mental boundaries between work and personal life when the physical ones are no longer as clear.
If you work at home with other family members or housemates, it’s important to respect one another’s space and work or learning schedules. Regarding them as co-workers will automatically enhance levels of professionalism, at least during working hours. Be aware of noise – for many of us calls and video meetings comprise a large portion of the working day – and share any important meetings that may be scheduled so that you can have peace and quiet when it’s needed. Also agree on working times, for example, when does the shared space revert from an office to the living area, and vice versa?
Set up an ergonomic workstation
Working comfortably at home is important for staying efficient and healthy. While it may not be possible to replicate the workstation that you have at your office, putting a few practical measures in place will help in looking after your wellbeing so that you can continue to work comfortably and productively.
As employers have a responsibility to afford the same duty of care to remote workers, which means they will help you to utilise technology for work in a safe and appropriate way – this can include a request for a photo of your working area so that a health and safety assessment can be undertaken. If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer for eight hours a day or more, your company should be able to provide an adjustable desk and chair or contribute towards the cost to buy these, to prevent back and neck problems developing.
From an ergonomics perspective, adjust your computer monitor to be at, or just below eye level, about 20 inches away from your eyes, which you can do using a monitor stand or arm. Ensuring that the screen is not too bright is also important for avoiding eye strain. Remember to keep moving, every 30 minutes if possible, even if it’s just to stand and stretch your back and arms. According to psychologists, taking regular breaks can help prevent decision fatigue and boosts overall productivity and energy levels.
Another way to introduce movement is by changing any existing work surface into a workstation using a sit-stand converter. This will enable you to move from sit to stand, then back to sit again, ensuring that you can always spend time standing, stretching and moving, regardless of what the workday brings.
Let there be light
Ideally, you should find a working spot that has lots of light. Studies show that a good source of natural light is not only good for your mood. It will also boost your overall productivity, health and wellbeing – to say nothing of your eyesight.
To prevent eye strain, don’t work with your back to a window as the light coming in will cause a glare on your screen. Similarly, don’t work facing a window unless you have some drapes that can diffuse how the light hits your eyes.
If you don’t have a lot of natural light in your work area, then you’ll need to illuminate your workspace. Adjustable desk lamps that let you position light appropriately for any task, at any time of the day, are ideal, and will also help ensure you can be seen to best advantage when participating in video calls.
Banish the clutter
Scientists have found that being in a cluttered environment makes it more difficult for us to focus and stay on task. In other words, having a clear desk helps us to work more effectively and reduces our stress levels.
Investing in some clever storage means you can file things away until they are needed. An added bonus of storing everything away is that the moment your working day ends, you’re not confronted by work-related distractions intruding on your free time.
As part of the clutter clearing exercise, why not tie up all those loose cables and power leads and tuck them out of sight so they don’t cause a trip hazard.
Create a greener workspace
Studies have shown that indoor plants have a relaxing and calming effect. Not only can they brighten your workspace, according to a recent study indoor plants help to lower stress levels, while boosting mood and improving concentration. That’s not the only benefit. Plants also absorb carbon dioxide – which makes it easier for us to breathe.
If you’re not particularly green-fingered, then opt for plants like succulents and cacti or rubber plants and peace lilies that can cope with minimal watering or limited daylight.
Invest in some good quality tech ‘treats’
Considering that a large portion of worktime is spent on video or audio calls, investing in a good quality headset will ensure that your virtual meetings are clear, comfortable, and fuss-free. Headsets are a great way to ensure you can block out distracting noises – pets, traffic, or the doorbell. Plus, your conversations will remain private – something that may be a blessing for family members or housemates.
If your job involves a lot of typing, ergonomic keyboards help to support your wrists to prevent risk of injury, reduce fatigue, and help you to work more comfortably.
Whether you’re tucked into an alcove, working at a desk in the corner of the living room, or lucky enough to have a whole room set up as an office, we hope these ideas help you create a truly inviting workspace where it’s easy to stay focused and productive.
Kleopatra Kivrakidou is Channel Marketing Manager EMEA at Ergotron.
Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com