Even as lockdowns have ended and people have started returning to work it has become clear that, for many, working from home will remain a thing of the future. WTF offers many opportunities for worker and employer but also many challenges. Those working from home can save more than $4,500 per year while also being more productive and doing more exercise than office workers.* Here we explore what is needed - in mental terms and also physical terms - to successfully set up your own home office.
all in the mind
For many, it can be hard to work from home with all the distractions there may be and the lack of supervision or a schedule.
Timing is an important starting point for success. Set yourself a proper schedule each day and stick to it. Just because you're at home doesn't mean you should be taking a break every few minutes or trying to multi-task between work and playing games. However, be sure to allow sufficient time for breaks. Having a checklist of goals for the day and prioritising them will help you make good progress.
Exercise is vital and more so when you are at home. For many, working from an office means walking to a bus or metro station and walking from the station at the other end to your office. These short walks may not seem like much but they add up. While at home you will need to find time to exercise, so stretches or other routines every hour are a good way to start. A home gym is an idea if you have the space and be sure to use some of that time you save on commuting to leave the house and go for a walk.
The way you dress can boost productivity. It may be tempting to work from home in your underwear but if it doesn't feel like you're 'at work' then your mind may not want to work. At the very least, put on a shirt or blouse and wear something clean. Maybe think of working from home attire as similar to what you might wear for a dress-down Friday.
Communication with others remains essential meaning that meetings with colleagues via online chat is crucial. Video chat will be useful from time to time to provide visual stimulus and reduce miscommunication which can happen with written forms of communication.
Reducing distractions at home will improve productivity. Do your children have suitable supervision? Will your pets cry for attention when they know you are home? What about delivery drivers calling or neighbours making noise all day? The work environment should be quiet and free from distractions.
A suitable environment for working from home is essential and the following part addresses what that entails.
Almost all home workers will be needing a high speed Internet connection. If you are working with video make sure that IPTV or streaming services aren't operating at the same time to ensure a fast speed. A wired ethernet connection is usually better than relying on WIFI but if WIFI is the only option then it is best to locate yourself as close as possible to your router. If speeds are slow then try rebooting your router or use your phone's hotspot function if you have a 5G connection.
Lighting is one area that is often neglected by those who work or study at home. Not too bright and not too dull is the key lighting level to aim for. Table lamps should be at least 600 lumens and ideally 1000 lumens. Adjustable desk lamps enable you to easily reposition the lamp when needed. Clamp lamps can be used if desk space is an issue. Bright light (around 4,000 Kelvin) is most recommended for work situations where alertness and concentration is a concern. LED lights are best so avoid old incandescent or fluorescent lights. Ensure there are alternate lighting sources - table lamps, spot lights and floor lamps work best. Don't forget about natural light either and position your desk perpendicular to a window where possible. Sufficient natural light has been shown to reduce eye strain and prevent headaches - but also be sure to avoid glare from the sun. If you wish to invest further in lighting for your home workspace then you might consider Smart Lighting which can easily allow you to adjust lighting temperatures and intensity. Smart Lighting is increasingly easy to set up and the advantages are considerable.
For much of the day you will be sat in a chair so it's wise to select a good chair. A good chair will ensure better posture while reducing the likelihood of carpal tunnel syndrome, RSI, backaches and other issues. Office chairs are the best option as they offer adequate back support, have adjustable seats and backs as well as allowing for easy movement around the home office environment. It is important to be able to adjust the height, tilt and back position and to ensure that the back of the chair is flush with the small of your back to prevent lumbar issues. When sitting in the chair, your forearms should be parallel with the floor and your knees should be ever so slightly higher than your hips with your feet solidly on the floor. That said, sitting down all day is never a great idea and many today opt for Standing Desks which allows you to sit down or stand up as you feel like it.
* Sources: https://www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/ and https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/6-ways-working-remotely-will-save-you-money/
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