WFH Survival Kit: Setting Up a Work Environment At Home
When we are in an office environment, everything we see is designed for work. Desktop computers, desks, office chairs, ceiling lights, cubicle walls, and so on. However, with work from home, much of all that…is now gone.
The New Normal
Going from a designated workspace to the comfort of our homes has its advantages and drawbacks. Numerous employees will need to make changes or adjustments for the new conditions that may be around for quite some time, if not long term for those that plan to WFH full time.
Before we dive deeper into recommendations for this section, let’s first talk about the importance of a proper setup.
Some issues millions face, which seem to be only small inconveniences, can end up with major health consequences in the long run. “…monitors too small and too low; desks that don’t adjust; chairs without armrests and back support; built-in keyboards and touchpads instead of external ones… [resulting in] remote workers report suffering from aches and pain, joint soreness, stiffness, numbness, carpal tunnel and headaches.” (Chang, 2021). When these ailments appear, more money will need to be spent on treating them. This is especially detrimental during a time when many are making less than they used to or even losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Eliminating any unnecessary costs, especially medical, would be certainly what everyone would want.
Furthermore, professional work environments typically have ergonomics in mind for long hours of office work, which is typically not what most would have at home. The process of getting to and from work and activities in the workplace also are movements that are eliminated when being at home the entire time. American Chiropractic Assn.’s Council on Occupational Health reported that 92% of respondents in a survey found an “…increase in musculoskeletal conditions such as back and neck pain as a result of patients working from home…”
From amenities to choose where in the house to work, every seemingly small aspect can all add up to a transformative working experience. Some companies even provide WFH allowance to accommodate the changes needed to be made at home. Let’s get started.
Desks & Chairs, and More
For those who wish to save costs and adjust with what they currently have, here are some recommendations.
- Avoid working on the couch or in bed.
Both your neck and your back will start developing problems quickly, plus working where you relax will mix more between your professional and personal lives; the effects of this are mentioned in our previous article.
Say you have a dining room table too high and a chair too low. Add seat pillows to the chair seat to adjust the height and do so until your neck is within a good range of angle to prevent accelerated fatigue and neck pain. Be sure to make any adjustments as well for your backrest in response to these changes. If working under stress, adding in improper shoulder position can easily lead to strain and eventually pain and tightness in that and the surrounding area, especially the neck.
- Adjust your laptop’s screen angle accordingly to eye level.
- Your screen should also be at an arm’s length to both help your eyes and your posture. Some laptops have blue-light mode, which, especially when working later towards midnight, would be beneficial. Why?
- Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is what helps to induce sleep. For example, Apple’s products can switch to a more yellowed screen tone to help users slowly wind down. If your devices do not have such an option, consider investing in a set of blue-light glasses. If you do not need prescription glasses, these will come far cheaper than regular glasses.
- Proper lighting setup for your eyesight and reduces eye strain.
- Consider a LED desk light at the very least if the room light itself is dim. This will also help with video calls when you are able to be easier seen with good lighting.
- In terms of wrist fatigue, it is recommended to have an external mouse or trackpad with a mousepad meant for office use, as this will lessen the strain of your dominant hand when using the laptop for the whole day. Also, if possible, during the short breaks throughout the day, do some wrist exercises to stimulate blood flow.
If the power cables that come with your laptop are too short and result in limiting adjustments to where and how you work, consider investing in extension cords. Power banks are not just for phones nowadays; there are quite a few on the market for laptops as well.
Your New Working Space
When working from home, choosing where to work could be more important than you would think. From an article published in the Journal of Occupational Health in June 2021, professionals made the following statement: “The space within the home may be limited in relation to the occupants, or the furniture available may not be suitable for prolonged work affecting habitability defined as the physical environment’s capability to meet health and safety, functional and task performance, and physical comfort.”
For noise, some suggestions to remedy this is first to figure out which room in the house is most optimal for quietness and seclusion. Perhaps if you have kids, have them play in the living room or their rooms while you work in another, separate from each other for better focus. This will be especially beneficial during Zoom calls and other video meetings when you need to minimize background noise to prevent disturbance. If that is not an option, investing in some ANC (active noise canceling) earphones/headphones would surely help tone things down that are going on around you.
Sometimes forced movement, like in the office, can be implemented at home. Try to move around by working in different areas of the house throughout the day. A switch in the environment after short breaks can also somewhat refresh your mind too.
Lastly, a messy environment has shown to translate to a cluttered mind; workspace tidied up will most definitely help you focus better and feel better too.
As a result, we can see that many aspects within WFH should be considered. Although everyone’s circumstances may be different, it is without a doubt that adjusting your environment and conditions as much as you can, even if very little, will for sure help make the experience much more accommodating and appealing. Should you also be looking for WFH-friendly apps, be sure to check out Puffin 365 to see what we offer, that can suit your needs! Head to https://www.puffin.com/365 to learn more.