How to set up a home office
Working from home isn’t a new phenomenon, but it might be for you! During the coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever before have found themselves doing their day jobs from their own homes. What’s more, even as the world slowly returns to normality, employers all over the world have realised they don’t need to be renting expensive office spaces and are moving towards a more flexible home working model.
While working from home has its benefits - no more stressful commutes and more time for exercise or seeing family - having a comfortable home office setup is essential for your mental and physical wellbeing. If you’ve been hunched over your laptop on the sofa for the past few months, it might be time to consider setting up a home office. While it might feel like a chore, you’ll soon find you are more productive than ever.
1. Find a dedicated space to work from
Separating your place of work from where you relax or sleep is really important. If you’ve found your working day is longer than ever during the pandemic, or that you’re finding it hard to switch from work life to home life, finding a dedicated space to set up a desk can make all the difference.
Setting up a home office starts with finding space for a desk and office chair. This might mean shifting some furniture around or decluttering rooms and putting bulky furniture into storage for the time being. Look for a space that is separate from the rest of your life - perhaps a spare bedroom or even a garden shed. Ensure the room has space for a desk and a chair and that there’s overhead lighting, such as that from a ceiling lamp. Avoid placing a lamp too near your computer screen as it might create a glare.
2. Ensure the physical set up is right
It’s unlikely that your family kitchen table is set up to the same standards as your office desk was. The industry standard for a desk is 29 inches from the floor to the top of the work surface. When setting up your home office, ensure the height of your desk is correct by sitting up straight and looking down at the natural position of your arms - your forearms should be parallel to the ground and your wrist shouldn’t be bent when you type or use the mouse.
If you’re working on a computer for most of the day, your monitor should be at eye level in front of you, so your shoulders are level and you’re not hunching your back as you work. You might need to invest in a stand to raise your screen up to the appropriate height, but doing so can avoid injury - shoulder and back pain are common complaints of workers without a good home office set up. If you can, ask your employer for a full-size screen, like the one you would use in the office, rather than relying on the smaller screen of your laptop.
3. Invest in a good chair
When setting up a comfortable home office, your modern kitchen stools won’t do. The best office set up usually includes a professional office chair, with the option to adjust the height depending on your desk size and height. If it’s safe to do so, try and test the chair before investing to ensure it’s comfortable for you.
Another option is to look for an adjustable desk that allows you to stand up for portions of the day - this is better for your spine and for your overall health.
4. Think about upgrading your internet
If you’re not the only member of the household trying to work from home, or you’ve got kids who like their screen time, it might be time to think about upgrading your internet. A good home office set up needs a minimum internet speed of 50Mbps, but the higher the speed the better! If you can, connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable rather than WiFi for a better connection.
5. Ask your employer for a mouse and keyboard
If you haven’t already, ask your employer for a proper mouse and keyboard to use when working from home, rather than your laptop’s built-in keyboard and trackpad. If you’re self-employed or investing in your own equipment for your home office, look for a wireless keyboard or mouse, which naturally involve less clutter and cables.
If you’re on a lot of calls, it might also be worth asking for or investing in a comfortable headset, which can minimise background noise and prevent you from holding a phone for long periods.