According to a research conducted by Stanford this year (2020), 42% of the US workforce has shifted from the office setup to working from home on a full time basis. This shift is attributable to large organizations, such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, asking their employers to continue working from home. In fact, the health board keeps advising more companies to do the same. Whether your company has announced a new work from home policy for all or you’re among the non essential service providers who can work remotely, gathering enough information on how to set up a work from home space is crucial.
Although research shows that working from home increases productivity and work life balance, it is imperative to note that 70% of this success will depend on how well you plan and set up your remote working environment.
Before we go to the actual setup, here are some factors to consider while setting up a work from home office:
Availability of space/location
If you live in the country, space might not be an issue for you. For most people living in the city, however, finding a large office space in their home might be a challenge. As such, you have to look for ways to utilize the available space or modify the existing one. For example, you can convert the guest room or the drying room to an office. Use the basic minimums and multipurpose equipment.
Identify existing distracters and know how to deal with them
Although working from home comes with flexibility and balance, achieving work and life balance is easier said than done. It would be a lie to say that you can watch your kid knock the door twice or thrice in the middle of a meeting without being distracted. In other instances, you might need to fix a cup of coffee as you work on the kitchen table only to have your pet knock off your laptop. As such, you need to identify your distracters and come up with a strategy on how to deal with them before you set up your working space.
Connection and availability of essential services
For most, if not all workers, internet is crucial to getting the tasks done. Whether you are a lawyer, blogger, or entrepreneur, it is the only way (apart from phone service) you connect to the world and communicate to your colleagues. As such, you have to ensure that you have proper, reliable, and fast internet service. Sometimes you might find that the recommended internet provider does not cover your location.
Flexibility/working hours and accessibility
Flexibility depends on your work. A consultant may engage a client at dusk while a human resource manager may prefer to do the same in the morning. The bottom-line is achieving the required number of working hours per day/per week. If you work through the night, then your office should be easily accessible.
Setting up the ideal work from home space
1. Proper work height
You will need a desk and a table with a standard height of 29 inches from the work surface to the floor. To be safe, opt for a table or a desk that has an adjustable height. If you are tall, you will need a higher height while a short height works better with short people.
When you sit up, ensure your forearm is parallel to the ground and your wrists are stable when you type or handle the mouse. This will ensure that you do not bend your wrist for long since it might result in an injury.
Note that the standard height above is used when writing on paper and not when using the keyboard. When using the keyboard, ensure the keyboard tray is two inches below the writing surface. The tray should be wide enough to fit both the keyboard and the mouse.
2. A proper chair
Although you might prefer to improvise, an office chair should not be among the items you compromise on quality. Using a bad chair will not only reduce your productivity but also will injure you over prolonged use. This is because couches, dining chairs, and deck chairs do not encourage an upright posture that you need when working.
When you’re working on a budget, settle on ergonomic office chairs that range from as low as $150 to $600 that will do a good job. If you can afford it, or need it for the long term, go for adjustable professional office chairs. Ensure you test them out in person (if possible) because it is difficult to tell a chairs’ comfort from a picture/website.
Features of a good ergonomic chair
- Should have an adjustable height
- Can roll and provide comfortable lumbar support
- Should support your fore arm weight and height
- Should be made of comfortable material
- Should support your weight
3. Good lighting
Good lighting is as essential as the room itself. Although most equipment overshadows its importance, good lighting affects your ability to work effectively.
Opt for indirect lighting, preferably overhead. It should not be in your direct field of view or reflecting on your monitor. The intensity of the light should also be moderate to allow you to read clearly without shadowing.
Dos and don’ts when it comes to lighting
- Avoid diffused natural light- one diffused with shades and curtains.
- Don’t place a reading lamp next to your monitor- it creates competing light sources, which may create a glare.
- Moderate your monitors brightness- this will help you avoid eyestrain
- Put additional lights away from your direct view
4. Good internet service
- Work with a minimum speed of 50 mbps
- Opt for wired connection- connect your router via an Ethernet cable
- Use Wi-Fi for basic office work only
- Use modern equipment that supports a higher bandwidth
5. Other requirements
- Floor comfort and design
- Extra adapters and headsets