Working from home is a balancing act of responsibilities, a tricky exercise in flexibility and focus. However, with over 70 percent of the country working at home at least some of the time, it’s becoming increasingly important to know how to do it well. Thus, your home office should be comfortable, but not too relaxing. It should be functional, but with boundaries. And, you’ll want it to be warm and welcoming, but not distracting. Listening to your body, your mind, and your heart will not only facilitate a healthy home work environment, but it will also foster productivity and overall well-being.
Think about the nature of your work. Many of us don’t consider the toll that office work takes on our bodies until we simply can’t ignore it. Stagnant working positions such as sitting, typing, and staring at computer screens all day puts unnecessary stress on your body, often in the form of pain. Pain precipitates lost or restricted time in the office, reducing productivity and increasing frustration. The good news is, there are a variety of ways to mediate this before it becomes a serious problem.
Start with your chair. Your chair should be ergonomic, meaning that it promotes both efficiency and comfort. It should be adjustable in all aspects, while also providing lumbar support. Movement is key—you don’t want your chair to force you to stay in the same position for hours on end. Consider using an exercise ball; you can use the ball all on its own, or you can choose from a variety of bases. Ball chairs keep you active while you’re sitting and promote good posture. Similarly, you’ll want a desk that is flexible. Desks with adjustable heights allow you to move from a sitting to standing position, or somewhere in between. Using an adjustable desk allows you to use chairs with multiple heights and functionality, allowing you to keep moving while you work. Be comprehensive—you’ll want to pair these adjustable furniture choices with footrests and anti-fatigue mats so that you don’t put unnecessary pressure on your body.
Light and sound can also have negative impacts on your body. Glare and unnecessary noise can be both distracting and headache-inducing; so, eliminate them! First, position your desk so that natural light is filtering in from the sides of your work station. This way, you’ll have sunlight and be able to look out of your windows. Secondly, lamps and overhead lighting should be supplemental; light should be directed at your keyboard and paperwork, but not your screen. This reduces glare and is much easier on the eyes. Soundproofing, too, is easier on the ears. If you’re juggling family responsibilities and working from home, you may want to consider soundproofing your office. Soundproofing can get expensive, so if you’re on a budget, you can also look into ambient noise makers and apps.
Just like your body, your mind adapts to fit the space you’re in. You don’t want to settle into a stagnant space; rather, you’ll want a space that is flexible, allowing you to create a work environment that will facilitate ingenuity rather than boredom. Our work habits and responsibilities are variable; what is conducive to a conference call may not be ideal for word processing. Consider furniture that’s easy to move. It should be light, and have wheels so that you can easily change your space. Designate a spot for relaxation to allow yourself short breaks, even if it’s as simple putting a comfy chair by the window. Invest in quality work tools and high-speed internet to cut down on unnecessary frustration. Most importantly, create boundaries for yourself and for your family. Your workspace should stay your workspace—remove any distractions, such as TVs and gaming consoles. If you respect your own boundaries, your family will too.
While boundaries are important, your home office should still be a welcoming space where you look forward to spending time. Personalization is important. Don’t be afraid to add artwork, family photos, and sentimental mementos. While these items may be perceived as distractions, they actually facilitate creativity and innovation. Similarly, you’ll want to avoid grey, beige, or white walls when designing your office space. These colors can cause depressive feelings, particularly in women. Instead, turn to nature. Colors and themes that are commonly found in nature, such as blues and greens, promote calm, focus, and efficiency in the workplace. You can also take it a step further with low-maintenance plants and fish tanks. Creative professionals such as artists and developers may want to include yellows in their paint pallet, as they foster optimism, energy, and innovation. Feeling adventurous? Accent with purples; as a combination of warm and cool colors, they tend to trigger imagination. Be sure to match your paint scheme to your work life so you can settle in to your new home office!
Haley is from Gilbert, Arizona. She loves reading and writing just about anything under the sun. In her spare time, you can find her exploring outdoors or sippin’ on a craft brew.