As the coronavirus spreads do you find yourself working from home ? Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Apple, Amazon and Spotify have all rolled out compulsory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.
If you’ve never worked from home before, the task of setting up a comfortable home office can be confusing.
A carefully designed home office space can prevent a mass of health issues from eye strain to shoulder, neck and back pain. If you’re recovering from surgery, an ergonomic office set-up is also crucial to help avoid any injuries whilst you heal.
Whether you’re working from a fully equipped home office or standing desk in a studio apartment, we’ve compiled a complete guide on how to create a healthy home office.
Choosing a home office space
- If you don’t have a dedicated room then your dining room table or breakfast bar may be an ideal spot for you to work from.
- Have an area that you designate as your work area. Don’t stay in bed or lounge on the couch to check emails.
- Make your new remote work space as peaceful as possible and find an area where you can concentrate.
- The most important factor to consider when setting up a work space is ensuring it is health focused.
- Choosing the dining table? Make sure your chair set-up is ergonomic (read below). If you decide to work from your breakfast bar, consider setting it up as you would a standing desk.
Standing desks have significant health benefits and reduce the discomfort that comes from sitting down for extended periods.
A great benefit of standing desks (especially great whilst stuck in self-isolation or quarantine) is that standing burns more calories per hour than sitting.
It is important to note that standing will increase the pressure on your feet, so if possible, go barefoot.
If you’d prefer to wear shoes, wear shoes that don’t hurt your feet and avoid high heel shoes or flat shoes without padding.
Keep a routine and remove working from home distractions
Staying focused at work can be hard at the best of times, but if you’re not used to working from home, it can take some getting used to.
- It’s important to have a set schedule and stick to it. Set your alarm as if you were driving into the office daily
- Avoid sleeping in: get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. As tempting as it is, avoid hitting the snooze button.
- Block noise: use noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. If you don’t have access to either of these, use normal headphones and play soft music. Nature sounds have been proven to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which helps with concentration, lowers heart rate and reduces anxiety levels.
- Set clear boundaries: If you are isolated with friends or family, it can be easy to mix work with personal life.Interruptions can cause you to lose your focus and fall behind with work. Inform those you are isolated with that although you are working remotely, it is no different from working in the office and that you require a distraction-free environment to maintain focus.
- Set your phone aside: If you don’t require your mobile for work, place it out of view or in another room. It is tempting to reach for the phone to see what’s happening on social media or in the news.
Wear compression hosiery whilst working from home
Once you have correctly set up your homework station, no matter how perfect the environment, prolonged sitting will inhibit blood circulation and take a toll on your body.
Compression socks and stockings gently squeeze your legs in a way that helps promote blood flow and stimulates lymph to flow from the legs back toward the heart.
Do you have sensitive skin? The Sigvaris cotton knee high socks are specially designed for you.
Thigh or waist-high stockings reduce fluid and blood retention in the legs which helps prevent light headedness or falling when you stand up.
Lower the blue light emitted from your PC
Studies show the blue light emitted by bright screens reduces your ability to fall asleep fast, and maintain energy levels throughout the day.
Windows 10 and Mac both have a built in night light which you can enable to turn off and on at set times.
Desk and Chair Set-Up for Home Office
Adjust your chair correctly
If you’re using an office chair, reduce the risk of lower back pain by adjusting your chair so your lower back is fully supported.
- Adjust the chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor
- If your chair cannot be adjusted so your feet are flat on the floor, use a footrest.Ensure your knees and hips are at roughly the same height when sitting in your chair
- Don’t cross your legs when sitting as this may lead to poor posture and back pain.
Place your screen at eye level
- Place your monitor about an arm’s length away (between 50 and 100 centimetres), with the top of your screen at eye level.This will reduce eye-strain.
- If your screen is not eye level, you may need a monitor stand, or you can place reams of A4 paper underneath your monitor.Additionally, if the screen is too low or high, you’ll have to bend your neck, which leads to neck and shoulder strain.
Keep your wrists straight
- Position the keyboard directly in front of your body
- Adjust the keyboard height so that your shoulders are relaxed and your wrists and hands are straight
- Leave a space of 4 – 6 inches between your keyboard and the end of your desk to rest your wrists on when not typing
- Use a wrist rest to keep your wrists straight and at the same level as the keys
- Position and use the mouse as close to you as possible.A mouse mat with a wrist pad helps to keep wrists straight and avoid awkward bending which can lead to RSI injuries
- Reduce glare by carefully positioning the screen at right angles to windows
- Adjust your curtains or blinds as needed
Avoid phone strain
Do you spend a lot of time on the phone ? Swap your mobile/handset for a headset. Constant nestling of the phone between your ear and shoulder may cause strain and tension in the neck muscles.
Take regular breaks
- Take short 5 minute breaks every 30 – 40 minutes, away from your computer.
- Don’t sit in the same position for too long. Change your posture as often as is practicable.
- Avoid eye fatigue by resting or refocusing your eyes every 30 minutes. Take your eyes off the monitor and focus on an object in the distance.
Get Dressed and Wear Pants
Now your working from home, you may be tempted to work in your pyjamas or underwear, or even, in your birth suit.
Taking the time to get dressed and perform your usual morning routine will help keep structure in your life and prove a psychological boost.
Log off at the end of the day
When you’re working from home, you can often lose track of time.
A 2017 survey showed that 31% of remote workers said they were spending 80% more time on work-related tasks.
Set an alarm for the end of your work day and clock-out on time.
No one knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last and the adjustment to remote work can be difficult.
Follow the above tips to stay productive and healthy whilst working at home, and check out our article on how to stay fit whilst in self-isolation: