During the COVID-19 lockdowns, people that could work remotely set up temporary home offices that likely weren’t designed for long-term use. They might have served well enough during the pandemic, but now that many people are working from home on a more permanent remote or hybrid basis, these makeshift working arrangements are unlikely to be sustainable.
As flexible work arrangements are here to stay, now is the ideal time to re-evaluate your home office set-up to better suit your long-term working from home schedule. Setting up your home office or work from home area not only improves your output and productivity, but better equips you for a healthy work-life balance. Studies by the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology reveal that employees who have control over their workstation arrangement are not only happier and healthier, but are also 32 percent more productive!
Invest in the science of ergonomics
When you’re working from home on a long-term basis, you need the right equipment. You’ve probably realised by now that working on your couch or the fold-up chair at the kitchen table simply doesn’t cut it for sustained comfort and productivity. As such it’s absolutely worth investing in quality, ergonomic home office furniture.
Ergonomics may sound like a bit of a buzzword, but it’s simply the science of how humans interact with a system. In this case ergonomics refers to how a human interacts with their work environment. This understanding is instrumental in maintaining the physical health and wellbeing of workers by allowing them to work efficiently and comfortably.
Ergonomic injuries are the most prevalent form of workplace injury, accounting for a third of all workplace injuries. Findings from our December 2022 external study of over 1,000 Australian office workers reveal that 68 percent stated they had taken time off work due to health issues experienced due to their work set up. Causes for these injuries vary from having a monitor or chair set at an incorrect height, or having a set up that requires frequent turning or rotation to reach for a phone or other piece of equipment.
This is why the science of ergonomics exists: to protect you from these kinds of desk-and-chair-related dangers. It’s important to set up a dedicated, ergonomically sound work space. Not only is a good set up an important part of being healthy and protecting yourself from injury, it may also make it easier to transition between home and office. The COS study showed that 68% (net) of workers surveyed would like a more ergonomic set up at home.
In our 2022 study, when those surveyed were asked why they weren’t happy with their work from home set up, 58% stated “uncomfortable chairs”. Investing in a good, adjustable ergonomic office chair should be a main priority in any work from home set up. An ergonomic chair allows you to maintain a good sitting posture, offers maximum lumbar support and reducing back and neck pain, letting you stay focused on your work for longer hours. According to research, workers’ productivity could be increased by as much as 17.5 percent by simply providing them with the right chair.
Sitting for long periods can affect not just your productivity, but also your health. The US Cancer Society links sitting for more than six hours a day with a 19% higher death rate. Stretching and walking around can only offer so much temporary relief. If you don’t mind the idea of being on your feet periodically throughout the day, an ergonomic Sit-stand desk might be just what the doctor ordered. Moving between sitting and standing throughout the work day is proven to reduce back pain and lower the risk of heart disease, all the while improving productivity levels.
Pair a sit-stand desk with an Anti-Fatigue Mat, designed to cushion and encourage subtle movement and reduce fatigue caused by prolonged standing and you’re set.
Under desk Footrests
To relieve the pain and physical tension of sitting at a desk for extended periods, an ergonomic footrest may be for you. With an adjustable height and angled footrest, you’ll be in maximum comfort while reducing any strain on your legs, back, and neck. Even better, select one with a textured design surface to massage your feet while you work!
If you spend most of your day in front of a screen scrolling and clicking, especially, if you’re struggling with hand and finger pain, you may want to consider investing in an ergonomic mouse. The size and shape of a mouse are important; choose one that ensures your hand remains in a neutral and relaxed position for effortless scrolling.
Don’t forget ergonomic accessories that can also comfortable all day. We recommend a Keyboard Gel Wrist Rest and Keyboard Gel Palm Support. Moulded gel cushions can help relieve pressure on the wrists by keeping your hands and wrists in the correct ergonomic position.
Sharing your working from home set up with others
The next thing you need to consider is if and how your work from home space may affect others. You may be working from home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working alone. You may share your work space with a partner, family members, housemates or even pets. As you continue working from home you must figure out how working from home affects those around you. The nature of your working environment may have changed, but that doesn’t mean that the available space in your home has adapted to fit an extra desk.
Here are some suggestions for a more harmonious work set up:
A long-term home office should ideally be a dedicated space that is properly outfitted for work. Of course not everyone has a spare room that they can convert into a home office. Try creating zones, with separate desks, storage and task lighting so that each person who needs to work can personalise it to their own preferences.
Ensure that your office furniture doesn’t overwhelm your living and leisure space so you can all switch off long after work hours. Things like pot plants and attractive screenings can lessen that ‘office look.’
If you’re working from home with children or other people who aren’t working, it’s a good idea to lay some ground rules concerning your professional needs and space. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re at leisure. During work hours, you’re working. Consider using some kind of physical indicator that you shouldn’t be disturbed, such as a sign, or set ground rules that between your start and finishing work hours you are not to be disturbed.
If you’re working alongside others, respect each other’s work styles and quiet times. Plan to work on alternating phone call scheduling, step outside or away to another part of the house when you take a work call and wear headphones when listening to audio.
One of the biggest challenges is working with young children around, but there are solutions. Try and maximise work while your kids are sleeping, or preferably organise another caretaker at home. If this isn’t possible, keeping them occupied helps, such as organising a toddler-sized desk alongside you stocked with crayons and toys!