Are you looking to improve your work from home space? There are definitely some must-have items that will improve productivity as you work from home by making your life easier and increasing your overall experience. After doing extensive research, we are prepared to share with you the essentials you need, tips on proper set up and delve into some do’s and dont’s for your home office.
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Home Office Essentials
Last March was an inflection point for the majority of employees and employers. Once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, many industries were forced seemingly overnight into a remote modality because pubic health considerations called for most people to remain in their homes. Companies had to adapt quickly and transition from a conventional office setting to a work from home model.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic declaration, many people remain working from home and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 is likely to serve as a geological event for the world of work, meaning the way most people do their jobs will never be the same. Smartway2’s research has shown that once it is safe for employees to return to work, the overwhelming majority of employees prefer a hybrid model that would allow some in person work and some work for home.
Knowing that working from home is likely a permanent part of many people’s schedules and not just a temporary period during the pandemic, our research has shown the following items previously found in your employer’s office are necessary for success in your home office:
- Comfortable chair
- Monitor (Maybe 2)
- Surge protector
- Strong WiFi
- Ergonomic accessories
- Bluetooth speaker
Importance of Proper Set Up
Employee engagement and benefits platform Vantage Circle has an insightful t blog post on the importance of setting up a proper work from home space. The subject of Vantage Circle’s blog post reads in part, “Improper work setup can not only hamper productivity but can also affect your health and work life. These can be blurred vision, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, and most importantly, a poor body posture, etc.”
Did you know that nearly half of the adult labor force in America suffers from head, back or neck pain? Well, that is the case according to a study by UpRight and Ernst & Young Israel.
An article in EHS Today, an occupational safety and health magazine, quoted the CEO of UpRight, “The reality is that most business men and women spend eight to twelve hours a day sitting slouched over at their desks, which leads to back pain, decreased productivity, poor health and missed work days.” It goes on to say that in the study where participants were trained on healthy posture habits 75 percent “experienced improved posture, decreased back pain and felt more productive at work.”
Good work posture
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, advised the following recommendations when it comes to a computer working station:
- Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, forward facing, and balanced. Generally it is in-line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
- Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
- Thighs and hips are supported and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward
Dedicate a space to be your office
Differentiating between your home and work life can get very tricky when your office is at your house, and this has become especially difficult for people who had not previously worked from home prior to the pandemic. For this reason, many experts recommend finding a dedicated room or a space that is specifically designed for work related tasks.
According to Galen Gruman, Executive Editor for Global Content at business technology publication Computer World, “Most people don’t have spare space, but many people can convert a guest room into a dual-purpose space: an office most of the time and a guest room when people visit. (A Murphy bed is a great way to do that if your space and budget allow.) An enclosed porch, a large laundry room (or, for Europeans, drying room), or even a garden shed can also do the double-duty trick. If you can’t get a dedicated space you can separate from the rest of your life, try to find a niche space you can use that is out of the rest of the household’s way — and they out of yours — as much as possible.”
The DO list for Working from Home
Business Insider has put together a list of 10 do’s and don’ts that is a helpful resource to consider when determining how to setup and maintain your own home office:
- Create an organized workspace separate from the rest of your home to help minimize distractions. Use to-do lists, calendars, and filing systems to keep yourself organized.
- Make sure to take breaks throughout the day for lunch and exercise. These breaks will help you focus more on your work.
- Make sure to be in constant communication with your boss and coworkers. If you have a scheduling conflict or cannot meet a deadline, inform your boss in advance and make arrangements to ensure your tasks are completed.
- Set office hours and give yourself a specific time to work. It can be based on a schedule that works for you. Having a specific work time can ensure you don’t spend too much (or too little) time working and can avoid spending your evenings checking emails.
- Have a social life! It’s easy to get caught up in your work at home. Be sure to get out of the house on the weekends at a very minimum to enjoy the things you love outside of work.
- Create boundaries for your family while you’re working. Let them know, despite being at home for work, you must limit the distractions you have throughout the day.
- Use apps to help you stay organized. Tools such as Google Docs and Wedoist can help you keep track of important documents and stay on top of your to-do lists.
- Get ready for the day. Even if you decide to get showered and dressed at noon, make sure you change out of your pajamas and into appropriate clothing. You never know when you’ll have a surprise video conference call or interview.
- Have a backup plan. There will be some days where working from home becomes impossible. Whether it’s a faulty Internet connection or some other interference, have a backup workplace in mind, like a library or a coffee shop.
- Try to work during normal business hours. This makes it easier to work with clients, your coworkers, and your supervisor.
The DONT’S for Working from Home
Just as important are knowing what to do when it comes to your home office, is knowing what not to do. After reviewing research from experts, we broke down 3 major “don’ts” and why they can be detrimental to your productivity.
- Don’t work from your couch or bed
According to Real Simple Magazine, “(working from your bed) may sound cozy, but if at all possible, it’s best to avoid working in your bed. Otherwise, you’ll begin to associate your bed with work and may have trouble falling asleep at night. And if you work from your sofa, sitting in the same spot after work for a Netflix binge-watching session will feel less relaxing. Even in a small home, try to create a workspace that’s separate from your relaxation zone to create some mental distance.”
- Dress for success, don’t work in pyjamas
An article from online news publication The Guardian puts it quite simply, “Working in your pyjamas is a lot like working from bed (and the two often go together): it seems like such a great idea when you start, but you realise that if you’re dressed for bed, your brain will thinks it’s bedtime and totally fuzz out. So, not pyjamas is the first rule of homeworking.”
- Don’t tackle chores during the workday
While it may seem obvious, it is important to remember that trying to complete your list of chores at the same time you’re you’re working at job, will make everything take longer. Business Insider writes, “Handle household chores during work hours. It will become extremely distracting and it will take twice as long to complete your work.”
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