When the pandemic hit, we were all forced into our homes. Many of us had to get a home office together quickly so that we could keep working. We used our kitchen tables, the ledge in our laundry rooms, or even sat on the sofa with our laptops. It wasn't ideal, but it was the best option in the short term.
The company you work for may have implemented hybrid or full-remote working since, or perhaps you’ve realized that you prefer working from home and have moved to a company that’s happy for you to continue doing so permanently.
Whatever your situation, if you're going to be working from home in the long term, it's time to get your office set up properly.
How to improve home office setup
You may have an entire Pinterest board of office designs as a starting point to create a beautiful space, but you must also make sure your new home office setup is also functional.
It's not as sexy as painting the walls and buying an array of spider plants and artwork, but you need to make sure your office is ergonomically set up, so you don't end up hurting yourself.
What are the effects of poor ergonomics?
Have you experienced headaches, eye strain, or pain in your back, neck, shoulders, hands, or wrists? All of these are symptoms of poor ergonomics in your office setup. Unfortunately, working from home means we miss out on an official ergonomic assessment most of the time.
Here's a list of everything you need in your office to create a productive workspace and how to ensure they are ergonomically set up to ensure you work as safely as possible.
How to set up a productive home office
Here’s everything you need to create a workspace that helps you work productively and safely.
Unequivocal office must-haves
No arguments, every WFH office must have:
A space with a door
This may sound odd, but when working from home, you really need to be able to shut out the world and focus 100% on your work and then shut work in and forget about it during your downtime. Trust us; this is a must.
Kind of a no-brainer, but if you can, invest in a desk that can be made taller or shorter. That way, you can optimize it to your height and not have to hunch your shoulders to reach your keyboard or have your feet dangling off your office chair. Your desk should be tall enough that you can sit with your back straight and have your forearms parallel to the floor.
Of course, your chair should be adjustable so that it's as comfortable as possible; after all, you'll be sitting in it for long periods. Armrests are an excellent option, too; although your elbows should sit lightly on the rests of your chair rather than bear down on them, otherwise you run the risk of injuring yourself.
Your chair needs to be the correct height, matching your desk, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should also be planted firmly on the ground. If this isn't possible due to the height of your desk, you may also need to invest in a footstool.
Most of us work off of laptops nowadays, but if possible, invest in a monitor as this will be much better for your eyes and stop you from having to look downwards constantly.
Your screen, whatever you use, should be raised so that your gaze is naturally 25-30% from the top of the screen. You may need to invest in a riser to make this possible, especially if you only have a laptop to work off.
Position your screen around 20 inches from your face to prevent eye strain. With this setup, you shouldn't be hunching your shoulders, and you should be able to maintain a comfortable straight-back posture at all times.
Whether you wear glasses or not, smart glasses are essential to creating a productive working environment. Our glasses come with blue light lenses, which reduce eye strain, protect your retinas, and more. You can even make and accept calls without using a handheld phone or loudspeaker. You're free to type, write notes, and even move around the office while on the phone - all hands-free, thanks to air conduction.
And if you do have a prescription, you can add that to your Lucyd lenses and still reap all the benefits of smart eyewear.
This should be both natural and artificial.
If you can position your desk near a window, the natural light will do wonders for your wellbeing and be a focal point for you to take screen breaks. If you are working near a window, though, you may want to invest in light blinds that will keep the brightest rays out but still ensure good lighting.
But when it's darker outside, especially during those winter months, you'll need additional lighting to prevent eye strain. Bear in mind, though, that your lighting shouldn't be causing a glare on your screen, which could cause headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, eye strain, and pain in your neck and shoulders.
Desirable office must-haves
These are things that can improve the WFH office experience, and therefore productivity:
Keyboard and mouse: Positioned so your forearms are parallel to the ground and you don't have to bend your wrists.
Keyboard and mouse rests: Will protect you from wrist pain and RSI (repetitive strain injury).
Webcam and mic: Especially if you’re going to be involved in regular virtual meetings. Nothing will kill productivity faster than a buggy experience.
Virtual assistant: Whether you're a fan of Alexa or Siri, having a virtual assistant can work wonders for productivity. If you're in the middle of a task and a thought pops into your head about another project, make a note via your virtual assistant and continue with what you were working on. You can also set reminders, perfect for giving you a heads up about an upcoming meeting. If you have smart glasses, you can link your virtual assistant to them, meaning you don't need to take up more desk space.
Sound system: An absolute must if you hate working in silence, but not vital enough to add to our must-have list. And since you'll be listening to a lot of music or podcasts, a sound system isn't something to skimp on. Again, if you have smart glasses, you can stream your music and podcasts through the arms of the frames, and the open ear design means you'll still hear your phone ringing.
Plants and artwork: You're more productive when you’re in a safe, comfortable environment. So accessorize your office and make it truly your own. Try to stay away from clutter where possible, but also look to make your space feel homey.
Having plants in your office can reduce stress, clean the air and boost productivity, so if you can, it's worth buying a few and dotting them around the room.
To create a truly productive home office, you need to invest in ergonomic furniture, set up your equipment correctly, and put your stamp on the room. You'll be spending most of your day working in your office, so it must be set up right to keep you safe, happy, and creative.