What does the ideal working-from-home office set-up look like?
Since the pandemic has led to worldwide shut-downs and many companies have asked their employees to work from home either temporarily or long-term, the right work-from-home set up has become more important than ever. While working from home is hardly a new phenomenon, coronavirus restrictions and social distancing rules have not only impacted the employees’ everyday life, but a lot of companies have also discovered that there is no real need for large and often expensive office buildings.
As a response to these sudden changes, many people have decided to set up a “makeshift home office”. While this might have worked wonders during the pandemic, it definitely won’t be ideal in the long run. Hereby, it is not only important to have the right equipment set up, but the ergonomics of the workspace are also crucial. Strain injuries, such as RSI issues, do not only cause a lot of pain and lower productivity but employees can also claim compensation.
The Ideal Home Office Setup
Try to incorporate as much as possible of the following tips in order to create a safe, fun, and effective workspace and home office set-up.
1.A Dedicated Space
For productivity and mental health reasons, a long-term office should ideally be separated from the rest of your home. This can be achieved through, for example, setting up your desk and computer equipment in a small additional room in which you can shut the door to separate your workspace from your home space.
Especially in London, however, most people don’t have spare space. If you have a guest room then you might want to use that space to build a dual-purpose room. It can be a functional office most of the time and turn into a wonderful and inviting guest room when people are staying over. If you don’t have the space to dedicate to a separate office try to find a niche space that is separate from your households’ everyday life. This way you can avoid your household disturbing your work environment while simultaneously staying out of their way as much as possible.
2. Proper Work Height
Having a desk or a table that is at work height is important. The industry standard for proper work hight is 29 inches (74cm) from the floor to the top of the work surface. While 29 inches is the height people should use as orientation when picking the ideal set up, tall people do better with a higher height and short people do better with a lower height. Many desks and tables have adjustable feet which makes it possible for people to adjust the height to their personal preferences.
Your work surface is at the correct height when your forearms are parallel to the ground and your wrists are not bend or down when you are typing and sitting up straight. Especially the top surface of your wrist should be on the same place as the top of your forearm while typing. If that is not the case and you are bending your wrists for a prolonged period of time, you might cause an injury.
3. Proper Monitor and Monitor Height
Similarly to the work desk height, the size and height of the monitor also play a major part in setting up a proper long-term home office set-up. Our suggestion would be getting a large monitor (maybe even two) just like you would have had in a corporate office. A good suggestion would be 25- to 27- inch models with a medium to high price range. Generally, you want to avoid the cheapest monitors since they can strain the eye when being used over a prolonged time due to their lower resolution and fuzziness. The display resolutions which can generally be recommended to achieve the desired sharpness consist of QWXGA, QHD, WQHD, or 4K UHD.
Additionally, it is important to be aware that the display connector can limit the screen resolution. On many computers, the video subsystem limits HDMI 1.x resolutions to 1920 x 1200 pixels. This can make large monitors appear a bit fuzzy. Therefore, check your computer’s video specs and get a monitor which has the capability for the display resolution to match the maximum capacity. If you decide to purchase your own computer, you generally want to buy one which supports HDMI 2.x or 3.x, DisplayPort, or USB-C connectors in order to receive the best video quality. Having said that, however, focusing on getting a good monitor which specs meet or even exceed what the computer can deliver might be the best option, especially for those with a work-issued computer.
Now let’s take a look at the height of the monitor. When sitting and looking straight ahead your eyes are supposed to be at the height of around 25 to 30% below the top of the monitor screen. This should help you avoid hunching your back and potentially injuring yourself. If your monitor is not adjustable then you might need a riser to adjust it to the height you need. A riser can also be helpful as it can provide extra shelves for storage purposes.
Of course, not everyone has decided to purchase a separate monitor, and many are working from a laptop. Hereby it is advisable to purchase a foldable monitor stand to achieve the advised working height. Additionally, the use of a travel keyboard and mouse can increase the overall work experience and productivity immensely.
4. A Good Chair
A bad chair can lead to a lot of injuries when being used for a prolonged period, making it unsuitable for a home office set-up. In contrast to office chairs, dining or deck chairs are rarely the correct height and they often do not encourage the upright posture that is needed. Therefore, we suggest you get an adjustable professional office chair. If possible, we recommend you test them out in person prior to making a purchase.
A couple of things to keep in mind when searching for the ideal office chair would be making sure the chair is adjustable in height, can roll, and provides lower back support. If possible, an ideal chair should also offer an adjustable seat pan tilt, arm height, and lateral arm positioning. An armrest can be helpful to remind yourself to stay in the right position. It is, however, important to not put any pressure on the arm as this can be harmful.
5. Good Lighting
Like so many other things, lighting tends to be ones of those aspects many people underestimate when it comes to their working-from-home office set-up. Lighting can have a significant impact on your work environment. Ideally, you want to have sufficient indirect light to illuminate your workspace in a way that makes it easy to read and see physical objects. Hereby, indirect lighting means the light of the lamp is not in your direct field of view or reflecting off your computer monitor. Usually, overhead lighting can be seen as the best solution for that.
Similarly, the brightness of your monitor should not be too dim or too bright as both extremes can cause strains in your eye. Overall, the lighting of your computer monitor should be a little brighter than the overall ambient of the room. The ambient lighting, on the other hand, should be bright enough to be able to read printed documents without additional light or squinting.
6. Good Internet Service
To ensure a productive and issue free working day, you should make sure your home internet service is sufficient for the type of work you are doing. Most urban or suburban areas tend to have at least one high-speed internet provider. Around 50Mbps can be seen as the minimum speed which allowed a trouble-free working day. Having said that, however, the more people are using the internet at the same time, the more you want to invest in a higher-speed internet service.
Additionally, the bandwidth within your home is also important. The best and most ideal connections are wired Ethernet connections. While basic tasks can be done on Wi-Fi, video and bandwidth-intensive work should be done one a computer connected to the router with an Ethernet cable. In both cases, make sure you have modern equipment which supports 100Mbps for wired connection and at least 802.11n for wireless ones. Nowadays, almost all routers with Wi-Fi are dual-band and are supporting newer standards such as 802.11ac and 802.11ax which are most recommended.
Changing from a professional work environment which potentially had on-site IT engineers to working from home can be difficult. It is not uncommon to face problems such as connection issues, problems with the home computer, print or cloud set-up. Additionally, an incorrectly set up “office” can lead to many health issues and loss of productivity. This is why having access to trained IT engineers and helpdesk support is so important during these uncertain times.
In order to make your every-day life of working from home as stress-free as possible, Astec IT is offering remote and on-site IT support for businesses. This can not only make the lives of your employees working from home easier, but it can also lead to higher productivity among workers and reduce risks of security breaches. Astec IT offers a premium 24/7 IT support service, so you do not have to worry about any IT concerns when working from home or an office ever again. Get in touch with us now.
To find out more about possible security threats that come with the shift towards working from home, take a look at our prior article.