The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people work, possibly forever. During the various lockdowns, millions of workers from all sectors were forced to use their homes as makeshift offices. Although many have since returned to the workplace, countless employees either continue to work from home or split their time between home-working and heading into the office.
Most major companies have a department specializing in occupational health or health and safety. Part of their duties include ensuring the company’s employees have a workstation that is not only fit for purpose but also promotes productivity and well-being. Lighting is of a certain warmth, desks are set at the perfect height or are moveable, and chairs and keyboards are ergonomic. That last part, ergonomics, is something that most home offices lack and one of the main reasons for a perceived lack of productivity among home workers.
The Advantages of Working From Home
When outside influences forced millions of people to work from home, it was an adventure for many. After years of working in an office environment, employees had the opportunity to put their laptops on their IKEA dining tables, trim the countless hours spent getting ready for work and traveling into the workplace, and have a little more freedom to read a Bovada review or do some grocery shopping on their dinner breaks.
Many did not even attempt to create a home office; instead, they sat on the sofa, switched on the television, and worked from their living rooms all day, every day. Although working from your favorite armchair or spot on the couch seems appealing at first, doing so harms your physical and mental well-being and is likely negatively affecting your productivity, so you must properly set up your home workstation.
The Impact of Ergonomics
Ergonomics is the science of designing a workspace that fits the individual, not the other way around. An ergonomically designed workstation takes into consideration your body’s natural movements and positions, reducing the risk of injuries and discomfort, such as repetitive strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
A correctly set up workspace enhances comfort, which, in turn, increases productivity because you can work for longer and remain focused on the tasks in hand rather than aches and pains caused by poor posture. In addition, you will find your energy levels receive a boost because your body is well-supported.
Posture is crucial not only for your physical health but also for your professional image and your overall confidence. Sitting slumped on the sofa may seem like the best place to spend eight hours in front of your laptop, but it is horrible for your posture. Proper posture promotes improved confidence and self-esteem, improves your breathing by allowing better lung capacity and oxygen intake, and is known to reduce stress, which is never a bad thing.
How to Set Up Your Workstation For Success
There are six key factors to creating a workspace for your home that help you achieve positive results. Your first step is to invest in some ergonomic furniture. You may find that your employer will gladly front the cost of such furniture because they will see it as an investment in you.
At the very least, you should work from a desk with adjustable height. Dining room tables and flat-pack office desks only come in one size. While this height is OK for most people, you may be taller or shorter than others, so you could find yourself stooping or stretching to work.
Your next port of call is a sturdy, comfortable, and adjustable office chair. Unadjustable chairs are acceptable for short periods of sitting, which is what they are designed for. However, they become uncomfortable after prolonged periods, which you will do if you work a typical nine-till-five job.
Ensure you can rest your feet flat on the ground or a footrest and that your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
Ergonomics Stretches Further Than Furniture
Once you have the correct furniture, it is time to position your monitor or laptop correctly. Your screen should be no more than an arm’s length away from you and at eye level to prevent straining your eyes and neck. Ideally, your laptop screen or monitor will have a glare-reduction film to help prevent eye strain from the brightness.
Ergonomics applies not only to office furniture but also to keyboards and computer mice. Choose a mouse that fits your hand, and test out several keyboards until you find one that keeps your wrists in a natural position. Doing so prevents fatigue from setting in, vastly reducing the risk of short and long-term injuries.
Working from home means no managers are breathing down your neck and telling you what to do, particularly regarding your workspace. Are you one of those people with documents strewn all over your desk or table? Don’t be! Try keeping your desk clutter-free, and only have essential items near your computer. Put these items within arm’s reach so you are not continually stretching throughout the day.
The penultimate feature of a great workstation is personalizing where you work. As someone who has worked in a home office for a decade, I cannot stress enough the importance of adding some personal touches to where you conduct your day-to-day business. Have some plants, artwork, or photographs of loved ones within easy sight because it creates an air of pleasantness, which helps with motivation when times are challenging.
Lastly, taking regular breaks to stretch and move around is super important. In a workplace office, you will often get out of your seat several times per hour to use the photocopier, converse with a colleague, use the water fountain, or similar. You will find that you are sitting at your desk for extended periods when you work from home and may even eat lunch while working.
Regular breaks prevent stiffness and help your circulation. At least once per hour, stand from your desk and take a couple of minutes to make yourself a drink, stretch, or walk around your garden. Doing so helps you reset and keeps your mind and body fresh.
Anyone with a computer or laptop can work from home, but not everyone can work from home efficiently or in a manner that is good for their physical and mental health. Having a correctly set up workstation is more than just having a place to work; it is the cornerstone of everything positive you do.