Strategies for Setting Up a Home Office
Strategies for Setting Up a Home Office
If you have already started working from home, you likely have discovered that setting up a designated workspace and getting into a routine every day has its challenges. These range from selecting a location to planning your day to juggling work and home life. We’ve assembled some of the best strategies and tips for helping you make the transition a little easier and more productive.
Logistics and Ergonomics
- Find a location in your home that you can designate as your office space. Someplace quiet and with as few distractions as possible is ideal. If you regularly need to make calls or attend videoconferences, you will want privacy and quiet. Of course, if you have small children at home, you will need to consider how to be near them and supervise but still get periods of quiet to make calls.
- Make sure the chair is right for the desk or table you are using and is the right height to allow your feet to touch the floor comfortably. Your thighs should be slightly below your hips. You may need to add a footstool or adjust your chair height if your chair is adjustable. You can also add pillows to help with height adjustments, back support and comfort. Your elbows should be at or below a 90-degree angle when using the keyboard to reduce muscle strain.
- If you have a desktop computer, make sure the monitor is at the right height and distance to prevent neck and eye strain: at least 20 inches away (or about arm’s length) and height should match eye level (eyes should rest about 2-3 inches below the top of the monitor) so that you aren’t tilting your neck up or down to read the screen. The monitor should be directly in front of you. Don’t twist your body or neck to see it.
- Make sure there isn’t a glare from a window or bright light behind your screen. This will cause eye strain and can lead to headaches.
- Take a break at least once an hour to stretch and move your muscles a little. No matter how ergonomic your setup, you still will need regular breaks to prevent muscle strain, fatigue and other health problems related to sitting at a desk for too long.
- Install a white board, calendar or any other tools that will help you stay organized and focused.
- Make sure your Wi-Fi is sufficient for everyone in the house to use at the same time. Consider that kids will be using it also to do schoolwork or to stream videos and movies while you are working.
- Be sure that you can access any necessary work files or documents remotely from your office.
Communication, Engagement and Productivity
- Implement a structured routine and follow regular office hours. It’s easy to let chaos creep in and bedtimes or morning alarm clocks to slide a little, but really try to stick to your normal routine. Shower and dress for work as you normally would. You can dress more casually but get out of the pajamas. No one needs to wear heels and a suit but wearing business casual clothes and styling your hair and makeup (for women) will help get you in the mindset that now you are at work and need to be productive.
- Communicate regularly via phone calls, email and videoconferences with your work team and clients. Try to stick to your regular meeting schedule and convert all meetings to videocalls if possible. The face-to-face interaction is important and helps you stay connected and engaged.
- Make sure coworkers and employees know their responsibilities and deadlines. Communication is vital, including discussing goals and giving feedback.
- Engage and connect with your coworkers. Set up videoconference calls with your work team for a virtual lunch or happy hour. Try to keep up the camaraderie and connection that everyone is missing right now. Encourage lighthearted “watercooler” talk via a text thread or a group chat application. Play a game together at a virtual lunch or happy hour such as trivia questions or pick a theme like “funny hat day.”
- Let your spouse, children or roommates know that you are working and shouldn’t be interrupted unnecessarily.
- Playing music in the background is fine and can actually be helpful, but don’t have a TV on in the background. That can be distracting and counterproductive.
- Don’t get sucked into household chores during business hours. Stay focused on work. When you need a break, do something to relax and recharge, not housework. Take a short walk around the house or backyard. Take some deep breaths. Close your eyes and listen to music for a few minutes. Do a couple of yoga poses to stretch. Be intentional with it to make sure you really give your brain and body a break.