Creating an Optimal Work-From-Home Environment

January 6, 2020

 

Do you work from home, or know anyone who does? Chances are you do. Over the past 10 years, 83% of businesses have instituted flexible work schedules or are planning to,[1] and the number of people who work from home at least half the time grew 159% between 2005 and 2017.[2] In fact, a 2019 study indicates that the best workers are more likely to flee to a new company if they don't have a flexible schedule.

 

With the number of stay-at-home (SAH) workers on the rise, home offices are becoming a new norm. In observance of National Home Office Safety and Security Week, take this time to consider the safety and setup of your home office so you can be as productive as possible, whether you work from home every day or once a month.

 

 

Choose an area of your home that you rarely use, such as a guest bedroom or formal dining room. You'll likely have more space and a better view than you would from a cubicle! You could also convert part of the garage or attic into a workspace. Just be sure it's comfortable and you enjoy being there, and that the space is dedicated solely to activities related to your job. And remember that having a door you can shut behind you when work time is over is important to your work-life balance.

 

 

Do your research before buying your chair and other equipment. Ergonomics is a big deal, and you want to be sure you're sitting with the right posture and at the right height to minimize stress on your body. Your work surface doesn't have to be a traditional desk, however. As long as it's the right height and gives you enough room to spread out your work necessities, you're good. But be sure you have enough shelves and storage to put the things you need close to your work surface, and space to store other items you use less often somewhere in the room, like replacement toner cartridges.

 

 

 

It's hard to stress enough how critical it is to have your office reviewed by an ergonomics professional. According to experts, your computer, desk, and chair should be set up like this:[3]

 

  • Knees level with hips; thighs parallel to the floor. Add a footrest if necessary to achieve this.

  • Wrists held straight and hands no higher than your elbows when typing. Keep your upper arms close to your body.

  • Use speakerphone or a headset for calls.

  • Your computer monitor should be an arm's length away, with the top of the screen no higher than your eye level.​

 

 

 

A study by Carnegie Mellon University found that having natural daylight in an office can improve productivity by 15%. Windows that open have about the same effect on your productivity. But daylight alone won't cut it. You need task lighting, like a desk lamp, and ambient lighting, like floor or table lamps, to produce the right atmosphere.[4] Poor lighting can make you feel tired or strain your eyes.

 

 

 

 

At a minimum, be sure you're using password-protected wifi. Having a VPN is a smart idea, too. Never let anyone else use your work computer for anything, and you shouldn't be surfing the web or posting on Facebook from it, either. Use the locations your company provides to store your files and documents, rather than saving to your hard drive or personal account.

 

Practice the "clean desk" style of wrapping work for the day. Leave no papers or sensitive materials sitting out. Use cabinets that lock if you regularly have other people's private information in your office, and invest in a cross-cut shredder.

 

One of the most important things to remember about your home office is that when the work day is over, you need to leave it behind. Turn out the light, shut down the computer, and close the door behind you. If you follow these guidelines, it will all still be there tomorrow, right down the hall!

Sources:

[1] PR Newswire

[2] FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics

[3] Mayo Clinic

[4] Carnegie Mellon University

[5] Cancer.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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