Advances in technology in recent years have really put the dream of working from home very much on the (kitchen) table for more people than ever. However, in recent weeks, the need to work ‘remotely’ has been thrust upon many of us a matter of some urgency. Niamh Hayes has some words of advice.
Now, more than ever, more and more people are working from home. Whether it is by choice or a necessity at the moment, people are setting up home work spaces.
You may be lucky enough to have a specific room that has become your home office or you may have to make use of another area in your house, either way there are some simple tips and tricks to make your office space comfortable and fit for purpose.
Having a dedicated room in your house for your office is great as you can keep your work and personal life totally separate. Even a corner in a spare bedroom enables you to leave work ‘at work’ when you are finished. However, this is not always the case and lots of people are faced with making the most of another area in their house.
Just like having a totally separate room, your work space, even if it is in the kitchen or living room, should be separated from your personal life as much as possible.
If most of your work is done on a laptop, avoid sitting on the couch. This is not only bad for your posture, but it also means that your work life spills over into your relaxation area and you might be tempted to turn on the television or continue to work outside of work hours.
A corner of a dining table is better than sitting with your laptop on your lap. Mark a dedicated space on the table for your laptop, documents, stationery and anything else you need.
If you are tight for space, moving these items to another corner of the house during mealtimes and in the evenings, and only bringing them out during your work hours, will not only help to free up space, it will help to keep your work separate from everything else. If you have more than enough space for everyone to sit around the table and still keep your work things in one corner, it will save you having to put away everything and bringing it back out the next day. Just make sure it is far enough away to avoid being hit by spillages!
A desk provides a simple solution to keeping your work separate from your personal life. It can be placed in any corner of any room, including a bedroom, dining or living room. By having a desk, you can keep all your work stuff together and away from other living areas.
A comfortable chair will ensure your posture is not being compromised while working from home. Some office chairs have good back and neck support which will help if you are sitting for long periods of time. If you are limited in your choice, a kitchen chair is better than the sofa.
When working from home, you want to be able to keep everything together so that important documents and files don’t go missing or end up in another room. Dedicate some storage space to just your work belongings.
Multipurpose storage pieces will keep your office space organised. Many desks have storage underneath where you can keep documents, files, stationery and other accessories. Even a bedside locker, a cupboard in your kitchen or a drawer in your wardrobe can be utilised for storage.
A simple tray or box next to your laptop or computer will keep your documents together and to hand, and strong shelving will keep books and other items off your direct workspace.
A space where natural light flows in is always the best option so if your space permits, position your work area, table or desk near a window. To avoid glare, position your screen away from the direct light. If working near natural light is not possible, work in a space that is well lit with artificial soft lighting.
If you work in the evenings, having a dimmer on your lights will allow you to dim them as it’s getting darker outside and you can get on with your work more comfortably.
A desk lamp will keep your work area well lit and you can position it at different angles as the light in the room changes throughout the day.
When setting up your work-from-home space, ensure it is located near to power sockets so that you don’t have to leave the area to charge your laptop or phone. An extension lead is worth getting so that you are not tied to being positioned right up against a socket.
The last thing you want to worry about when working from home is broadband. Ensure your connectivity is up to scratch and able to deal with the extra usage.
Laptops have bad ergonomics, meaning they are not ideal to use for long periods of time. It is a good idea to plug your laptop into an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. It will be like working on a desktop computer. An external hard drive for backing up your work files may save time in the long run if your system crashes for any reason.
This article also appeared in our popular Home & Garden magazine which is available to read in full here.