The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many of us are required to work from home to follow social distancing protocols. If you didn’t already have some sort of at home office or workstation set up, you were probably left scrambling to create a makeshift office for the time being. While this pieced together home office may not be your ideal work area, there are some simple ways to improve your space that will allow for better workflow and productivity. No matter where you work, it is important to periodically consider how your workstation is or is not meeting your specific needs throughout your workday. We often forget how much our physical surroundings have an impact on our daily mood, well-being, and overall health. In today’s blog we want to outline how to upgrade your workspace to make the most out of your office area while working from home.
The foundation of a quality workspace begins with basic ergonomics. Ergonomics is all about how people fit into their work environment. You can improve your home office by focusing on optimizing your ergonomics which will help individualize your space and prevent any discomfort. We like to think about an ergonomically correct office as one that fits the shape and size of the person working in it so that they can stay productive and healthy while at work. Even though our bodies are not meant to be sitting for prolonged periods of time, there are ways to adjust your workstation to improve your tolerance and prevent pain.
The most common concern our patients have when talking about workplace ergonomics is poor posture and back pain. Remember that good posture begins with the correct workplace equipment and is more than just reminding yourself to sit up straight. You want to make sure your desk height suits the type of work you do throughout the day. You should also be choosing a work surface that is large enough for all of your work supplies include your computer and monitors. The height of your screen is also crucial to avoid slouching. The top of your monitor should be right at eye level or slightly below, so we suggest stacking sturdy books under your monitor to raise it if it is too low or raise your chair if your monitor is too high. Your monitor should be about 20 inches from your face, approximately an arm’s length away, to prevent slouching forward. Remember to include your chair when considering ergonomics as your seat should be adjusted so that your work surface is at elbow height. Sit all the way back in your chair with your knees at right angles and feet flat. We know it may be tempting, but try to avoid using couches, lounge chairs, or backless barstools while working from home.
Proper Temperature and Lighting
Although it is probably not something you are consciously aware of while working from home, comfortable temperature and lighting play a key role in our productivity levels. We are the most productive when we are comfortable in terms of body temperature so be sure to adjust your home heating and cooling to work at a pleasant temperature. If we are too hot or cold, our well-being and work performance suffer. If your family is known to have disagreements about the thermostat and can’t find a happy middle-ground, we suggest adjusting your clothes and bringing a small heater or fan into your workspace. Since your light intake actually regulates your brain activity, having the proper lighting in your home office is essential. Try to bring as much natural light as possible (or fake it with lamps) into your workstation. Make sure there is sufficient enough lighting that you are not straining your eyes or slouching forward to view your screen and, on the other hand, close some blinds and adjust your screen brightness to prevent glare.
De-Clutter and Personalize
We know first-hand how distracting it can be to work from home. Distractions are all around you so try to pick a workspace that is removed from things like TVs, beds, or busy gathering places for your family. At the same time, remember to take care of any clutter on or around your desk that will distract you from your daily tasks. Unnecessary items in your eyesight can clutter your mind so remove any non-essential items that will compete for your attention. This goes for your computer too – this is your reminder that a cleaner desktop, browser, computer files, and work emails lead to a cleaner mind while working. Once you’ve taken care of clutter, try to add a few personal touches to help your space reflect you in some way. Pictures, artwork, and plants are great additions to any workspace to alleviate any feelings of alienation.
No matter how much you improve your home office, you absolutely need to take breaks throughout the day. No amount of time and energy you put into enhancing your space will keep you productive throughout an entire day of work. Our bodies and brains are simply not meant to sit and work for prolonged periods of time. Try to get up and move around throughout the workday to avoid fatigue, tight muscles, and a stiff spine. We recommend taking frequent short breaks to do a few home exercises or stretches, fill up your water bottle, hit the washroom, make food, or anything else to give yourself some time away from your workstation. Don’t forget to include social breaks into your workday as well, whether it be with your household or through video call. Regular meetings and co-worker check-ins are great for preventing social isolation while working from home.
We hope these tips help you revaluate and make any necessary improvements to your current home office. Remember that, especially during physical distancing and staying home, your physical surroundings play a huge role in your mood and overall health. Want more tips on staying healthy during social distancing? Give us a call at (519)880-1733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how physiotherapy can enhance your overall quality of life. Don’t forget to check out our new virtual services! We are offering virtual physiotherapy and emergency in clinic visits for our patients.