Some are born to homeworking. Some achieve it. And some, particularly this year, have it thrust upon them. But however we’ve come to it, more and more of us are having to transform our house into our office. Those precious spaces we need now more than ever for eating, drinking, sleeping, Zooming, doing jumping jacks with Joe Wicks and trying downward-facing dogs with Adriene, suddenly also need to double up as places of serious business.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?
Having an ergonomic office that reduces strain on your back and helps avoid repetitive strain injury is essential. Succumbing to either can prevent you from being able to work at all. If you were in the office, you wouldn’t balance your computer on a Lego star cruiser or type while relaxing in an armchair and watching daytime television, so don’t do it at home.
Here’s a quick A, B, C of requirements for an ergonomic, efficient and enjoyable home office:
A is for Adjustable chair
Looking after your back is vital. You need a proper office chair where both seat and back-rest can be raised, lowered and adjusted, ideally with arm-rests. You’re going to be sitting in the same position for long periods of time, so you need lumbar as well as moral support.
• See ExpertReviews
B is for Broadband
For an efficient home office, broadband with a bandwidth of at least 50 Mbps is recommended. This is your pipeline to the digital world. Too small a one will slow you down and build frustration, and dropping out of Zoom is like walking out on a meeting.
• See MoneySavingExpert
C is for Computer Monitor
Ensure this is sufficiently high resolution to avoid eye strain. Your monitor should be positioned so that you are looking straight ahead about a quarter of the way down from the top of the screen, and it should be about an arm’s length away. Peering up or down is bad for your back, neck and shoulders.
• See PCMagazine
D is for Desk
The average recommended height for your work surface is about 740mm from the floor, but this is for writing. Slightly lower is ideal for using a keyboard and mouse. Aim to have your lower arms parallel to the floor and your wrists straight, as this will help avoid RSI. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor directly below your knees. If you suffer from a bad back, adjustable or stand-up desks are increasingly popular. Measure yourself and your work space before buying.
• See T3
E is for Eyes
Poor lighting and screens can lead to eye strain and headaches. Aim for indirect lighting from an overhead light or a window, which makes it comfortable to read documents on your desk but doesn’t create dazzle or glare on your screen. Create layers of lighting. Set your monitor so it isn’t too dim or bright. Consult an optician if you need glasses to help with computer work: don’t lean forward to peer at your screen, or bad eyes will lead to a bad back.
• See TheLightBulbCompany
WHERE SHOULD I LOCATE MY HOME OFFICE?
If possible, you need a dedicated space to work in, whether it’s a spare room, a conservatory or a summer house. And it needs a door or screen that you can treat as the front door of your home office. Ask your household to respect your work space when that door is shut. When you leave your home office, shut that door behind you.
Keeping your ‘work’ space and ‘home’ space separate is good for your work life, your home life and your mental health. Space is at a premium for many of us, so if you can’t have an office door, have a reversible sign that reads ‘At work’ and ‘At play’ so that your household know when not to disturb you, and you know when it’s time to shut down the computer and relax. Working from home offers great flexibility, but it needs discipline, imagination, and a few rules to take full advantage of that flexibility.
Here are the NHS recommendations for a healthy home office set-up:
LEARN MORE ABOUT 20 THE BARONS
At 20TheBarons we offer a collection of seven individually-styled serviced apartments in the Richmond-upon-Thames area of London. If you want to stay a while and need to work from home, we’d be happy to discuss your personal requirements for office space and give it our full attention.
If you want to want to talk to me, Ali, this is my business and I’m a Londoner who has lived in this area all my life. We have been hosting business travellers and families from around the world for many years. I would love to talk to you about how we can help your stay feel like you’ve not just moved house, but moved home.