With working from home now a part of our regular working schedules, the need to create an actual home office may be a bit of a necessity right now. While getting your daily tasks done from the sofa in your pyjamas is all well and good for a day or two, it's not exactly the ideal set up. There's a reason that your previous office is arranged the way that it is. Chiefly, the desk, seating and storage options are all there to help you be as comfortable, productive and functional as possible. A couple of days slumped in a dining room chair can really start to put a dent in all three of these things. And soon enough, these makeshift arrangements can have a negative effect on our physical well-being too. Although you may not have a spare room that you can dedicate its entire space to setting up a home office in, it's well worth taking the time to create an area of your home that you can stay comfortable and focused in during these difficult times.To help you out, we've come up with this guide to setting up your home office that includes some suggestions to creating a temporary office, as well as some tips for establishing a routine to make the whole arrangement work as best for you.
Find a dedicated space
The ideal space for your own home office would be a spare room with a door to have to yourself. Not only does this mean you can physically shut distractions out, but it's good for getting you into and out of "work mode". However, not everyone has a spare room available, so the home office usually becomes part of a multi-use room such as your lounge, dining room, guest room or bedroom, so you'll have to think about the space you're using a bit more. That said, we'd advise setting up your home office as far away from your bed or living room - these are the areas that will let you switch off at the end of the day, and make separating work and life a lot easier otherwise. Get a good chairYou're going to be a lot of sitting down in your home office, perhaps more than you would usually do in your regular workplace, so it's well worth investing in an adjustable office chair to keep you comfortable and keep you upright so you don't get a bad back.Something that has an adjustable height, provides lumbar support for the lower back and adjustable seat pan tilt, arm height and lateral arm positioning will provide the optimal conditions for you during the working day.
Height mattersThe height of your monitor, or monitors, is an important part of your set up too. They should line up in a way so that you look straight ahead when sitting straight, your eyes are at a height of 25% to 30% below the top of the screen. This way, your shoulders stay level and you don't hunch your back, helping to minimise discomfort and injury.
To achieve this proper height you may need a riser for the monitor, even if your monitor has an adjustable height. Even a few solid, thick books stacked up can come in handy for finding the height that's right for you. Measure the desired height of the monitor from the work surface so you know how much of a rise you need between the work surface and the monitor stand. Sort out your lightingWorking in an office, lighting might not be something you've had to think about all that much. But in your home office set up, you'll soon realise it's an important element. If your chosen space is an area that allows natural light to come in, then this can have positive effects on our productivity and mood. You just need to be mindful of glare so make sure you have curtains or shades if the sun starts to affect the view of your work.
Light sources from lamps should be placed in areas where it doesn't create unwanted glare or compete with your field of vision while working at the computer. Additionally, make sure your monitor isn't too bright or too dim, both of which can cause eye strain. Usually, your monitor's brightness should be brighter than your set up's ambient lighting, which in turn, should be sufficient to read paper documents without additional light. Remove any distractionsWhile workplace distractions may be gone for the time being, working from home present a whole new set of diversions to draw attention away from your work. Instead of your overly chatty colleague, you may now have flatmates, family, unwashed dishes, laundry and unpaid bills competing with your work duties.Whether your home office has a door or not, you should keep your space as free from distractions as much as possible. Keep your phone on silent, disable notifications and keep it in another room so you're not tempted to check. If things are too noisy for you, then invest in some noise-cancelling headphones and put on music you know will help to keep you focused. Anything like to-do lists, bills and books or magazines shouldn't impede in this space, so make sure your home office is free of these items. You may also consider downloading a website blocker if you find yourself tempted by social media and your favourite websites too!
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Create a sense of comfortYou may want to think about getting creative and adding a few creature comforts and decorations to your office space. Something as simple as some candles or an essential oil diffuser can add a comforting ambience to your set up, while framed inspirational images on your wall, as well as potted plants and flowers, can create a calming influence on your environment. You may even bring in certain colours that are based on the principles of colour therapy such as orange for inspiration or blue for tranquillity. However, in doing so, you don't want to overload on knick-knacks in a way that's going to distract you. A few neat additions can have a powerful effect on your approach to work, so be sure you're striking a balance.Take regular breaksTaking breaks throughout the day is crucial for your physical and mental wellbeing, so make sure you're getting up to move and stretch to lessen the effects of being sat down all day. Likewise, get yourself out of the house. Working from home makes it easy to spend days at a time cooped up inside. Every day, give yourself a reason to leave the house whether it's running some errands, going outside for a walk or meeting up with a friend (providing your local restrictions allow for it). It's very important in these uncertain times that we break up our working routines by engaging with something unrelated to our jobs.
Lose the pyjamas and suit upWhile it's tempting to roll out of bed and stay in your pyjamas, getting ready for work the same as you would normally can have powerful psychological that improves performance. Studies have shown getting dressed as if you were going to your office puts you in "work mode", and draws a distinction between your personal and professional life. All of this is crucial for helping you get through your upcoming tasks for the next eight hours.
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