Everyone deserves a comfortable place to work, regardless of whether it’s in an office or at home. Employees spend most of their day in front of a computer, which makes good working conditions vital for their overall well-being, especially in the long run.
If COVID-19 showed us one thing, it’s that working from home is not going away and it will play a significant role in many jobs going forward. Yes, it may not be permanent, but even if you do it a few times a month, it’s important to have a pleasant home office area.
Unfortunately, many people who work from home neglect to create an environment that improves productivity. From bad chairs to messy desks, even the small factors, such as not having a proper keyboard, can have a big impact on their work. The good thing is that it’s not that difficult to change things around. Here is how I’ve done it.
Get a desk
Start with a desk. A dedicated one. Don’t use your girlfriend’s dressing table or think that you can sit in your bed all day long. These are not fit for this purpose and you will likely suffer from it soon enough. As this is likely going to be the biggest item you will need for your home office, plan accordingly. There are small enough and cheap desks that can fit almost everywhere (check IKEA for example), so don’t use your available space as an excuse. I let my wife use the main computer desk that we have at home, so the first thing I did when the local government shut everything down was to order a new one and put it in our bedroom.
Buy a better chair
Acquiring a good office chair is as crucial as having a dedicated desk. Many young adults suffer from back related injuries due to the uncomfortable chairs they are using. This is where it’s worth investing more money. You will probably sit on it for at least eight hours a day, not including the time you will spend in front of the screen for non-work related activities such as watching Netflix, playing games or just browsing. Same as with the desk, my wife took our computer chair, so I had to use an old and a broken one for a week. After only a day, it became obvious that I cannot continue like that, and I went ahead and bought a new chair. This turned out to be my best investment during the lockdown. I now use it on my main workstation.
Invest in a good monitor
A lot of my colleagues rely only on their laptop screens during the lockdown. Although many of them claim that’s good enough to do their job, I tend to disagree. Nowadays, the average business laptop screen is 14 inches. Now compare that with a 24, 27 or a 34-inch ultrawide monitor (see below).
Do you think you’ll achieve the same productivity using the different screens? I seriously doubt that.
I personally use a 34-inch monitor at home. When my wife took over my desk, I had the opportunity to take one of my 27-inch screens from the office, as the company allowed it (thanks, Paysafe!). Even if you have the smallest of desk, you can go ahead and buy a 24-inch screen. It’s the cheapest option and it’s definitely worth it.
Keep it clean
Now that you have all the basics, keep it clean and tidy. One of your main enemies will be cable management. If you use wired keyboard and mouse and have a desktop PC as well like I do, things can get messy. Fortunately, there are clever gadgets that you can use to your advantage. Here are some of the items I use (the links below are not referral):
- KVM Switch – it’s very useful if you would like to keep one keyboard/mouse set for both desktop PC and laptop (example here)
- Wire Winder – it keeps cables hidden and organized (example here)
- Wire Clip – it’s a nice addition to the wire winder (example here)
- USB Charger – it allows you to charge multiple devices using one power socket (example here)
In addition to good cable management, make sure that you clean your desk at the end of each day, removing all unnecessary items.
Add a personal touch
As this is your desk, make it feel like it. There are many ways to do it. You can add a photo of your family or friends, have a wall decoration, or a Game of Thrones dragon figure. Whatever you choose, avoid items that could distract you, such as digital photo frames or loudly ticking clocks. I have a couple of LEGO Star Wars sets on my desk.
Make sure there is enough light and fresh air
I cannot stress enough how important it is to get enough natural light and fresh air. Leave the blinds up, ventilate the room often and try to use the air conditioning as little as possible. No matter how busy your day is, go out of the room for 15 mins at least once every two hours. If the weather allows it, go outside for a quick walk, or just enjoy it from your window or terrace.
Make it green
Last but not least, get a couple of indoor plants. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a gardener to take care of them. However, some studies show that having plants around you can raise your spirits and increase productivity significantly. Humans love nature and having a small part of it inside your home won’t hurt, I promise.
With that said, I hope I was able to show you how important it is to have a comfortable working environment at home. Experiment, try new ideas and make it feel as pleasant as possible. Enjoy!