How to Optimize Your Space for Working at Home

December 14, 2016

Gone are the days when most professionals worked a traditional 9 to 5 job, confined to an office or cubicle outside of their home. Working from home offers employees flexible working hours, decreased or no commute time, and a chance to be more productive. According to a 2015 Gallop Poll survey, 37 percent of U.S. employees work from home. And those numbers don’t even take into account all of those workers who are self-employed, working from home.

So, now that so much of the American workforce is made up of work-at-home professionals, it’s time to think about functionality, productivity, and ergonomics. Here are some helpful tips to help teleworkers optimize their home office.

Create a Dedicated Office Space
A separate room with a closing door is ideal, but not completely necessary for a functioning home office. If space limitations in the house are an issue, and a dedicated room isn’t an option, professionals can set up shop in the corner of a large open living room, or take over a guest bedroom. Just so you have enough space for a desk and files if necessary.

Remove Distractions
Working from home can help eliminate those office distractions like gossip and co-worker drama, but there are other disruptors that come with a home office like television sets, access to social media, the doorbell, pets, and kids. To be the most productive, professionals need to keep distractions to a minimum. Have dedicated day care days (for kids and pets), and keep electronic devices turned off except for break times.

Set Specific Office Hours
When employees work from home it’s easy to blur the lines between work hours and family time. The temptation to respond to just one more email turns into three more replies, and before they know it, they’ve missed dinner, and more importantly, they missed listening to how their kids’ or spouses’ days went. It’s important for workers to establish dedicated office hours and stick to them so their families know when not to disturb them, and employers have measurable work hours for deadlines.

Take Breaks
Without lunch dates with coworkers or coffee breaks with the boss, it’s easy for employees who work at home to sit for longer periods of time without taking breaks. Prolonged sitting can lead to posture problems, and even serious health issues like obesity, increased high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cardiovascular and disease and cancer. Those working from home need to make sure they stand often, stretch, and walk around. Setting a periodic reminder on a smartphone or desk top calendar to take a break is a good habit.

Ergonomic Considerations
Setting up a safe, comfortable work environment should be a top consideration for anyone who works from home, beginning with the chair. Office chairs should be fully adjustable in height with lumbar support and arm rests.

Just as important as chairs are work stations. According to the United States Department of Labor, 77 million Americans use computers for work. Improperly placed monitors can cause neck, back, and shoulder injuries, not to mention eye strain. To reduce the risk of injury, workers should place monitors at or below eye level for easier reading, without having to lower or raise the head or neck.

Photography by [pikcha] ©

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