Working from home: How to set up a home office

For some, this might be the first time you haven’t had a dedicated workspace to go to. We want to show you how a well set up a home office can benefit your productivity, health and minimise discomfort.

You might have seen our contribution in this article by the Guardian: Does this describe your home office?

“I knew the time had come to change my work environment when my laptop went missing amid a mass of Lego bricks and discarded toddler snacks. Situated in a cramped corner of my children’s playroom, my workspace was unaffectionately known as the “ploffice”

The running theme of this article covered why people desire to work from home, and if they choose to do so “is a separate work area a necessity or a luxury?”

Working on the sofa might sound idyllic; however, this can lead to numerous back problems further down the line. Where possible, we believe that a separate work area is beneficial for home workers where you can set up a proper chair, desk and equipment.

This isn’t necessarily dependent on space. With a little bit of space planning and clever furniture, you can make any little nook into a productive work area.

Work mode and relax mode

Not only is working from a sofa bad for your back, but it will make it harder for you to switch off from work at the end of the day. Usually, when you work in the office, your sofa and bed are where you go to relax at the end of a hard workday. If you bring your work to the sofa or bedroom, you will find it difficult to relax.

This is why it’s important to do your work in an area that can you walk away from. Even if you dedicate one side of your kitchen table to work, it just helps to keep your work life separate from your home life. If you have a separate room to work in where you can leave all your work behind a closed door that would be great, but we don’t all have that luxury, just a small area for you to sit at with a table or desk Is perfectly fine.

Avoid distractions

At home, it might be a bit difficult to not get distracted. Like all households, there are so many distractions: noisy pets, children, housemates, TV, phone notifications, unfinished chores, and a sink full of dirty dishes. All these distractions are normal in a home but not in a work environment so it might take some getting used to.

If you don’t have a separate room to work in, here are a few tips you can try to avoid distractions:

  • Wear headphones/earplugs to block out noise
  • Turn off or turn down the TV
  • Block notifications on your phone that aren’t important
  • Switch phone onto silent

Create a routine

It’s important to try and keep a routine when working from home, without structure it will be hard to keep on top of work and it’s very easy to lose track of time. There are a few simple things you can do to make your workday feel as productive and normal as possible.

Cleaning routine: A clean and tidy space is essential for productivity. Spend a little time in before bed or in the morning to clean, get all your chores out of the way so you don’t feel tempted to do them during the working day.

Don’t stay in your pyjamas: It might be very tempting to lounge around in your cosy pj’s, but it will make it so much harder to concentrate. You don’t need to get dressed into smart work clothes- keep it comfy – just don’t wear pj’s otherwise you’ll want to hop back into bed.

Take regular breaks at the same time every day: Try and keep break times at the same time they would be in the office, it adds more structure to the day.

Prep lunch the day before: Gives you more free time in your breaks to relax and you don’t have to spend time cleaning after. It also you a chance to plan meals.

Set up your workstation every morning and put your work away when you’re finished: It keeps everything tidy, and it makes it easier to switch off at the end of the day.

We have a short video on our YouTube channel that guides you through setting up your workstation in under 60 seconds that might be useful for those who want some help setting up a workstation

If you have pets take set breaks to care for them: Not only does this help you but it also gives you pet a routine.

Adjust your chair and sit correctly

If you tend to sit for long periods of time, we suggest investing in a good ergonomic chair to support various postures throughout your working day. Ergonomic chairs are usually modular and built to your specification e.g. extra-deep seats for tall users or a shorter back for smaller users. Once you have found your perfect chair, it’s time to set it up correctly to make sure you get all of the benefits of your new chair. Our simple guide will help you to set up your chair correctly.

…Or make the most out of your kitchen table

If you don’t have space for an ergonomic chair, you could make some comfortable adjustments to your current chairs with sitting wedges to angle your pelvis forward slightly for a better posture, or better yet, a backfriend to make it a little bit more supportive. Our ergonomics expert Jo has made this simple video to help you make the most out of your kitchen table.

Make sure that your screens are at the correct height

We think this has to be our number one sore neck culprit! Make sure that the top of your screen is in-line with your eyebrows stops you from dropping your neck or slouching over to view the screen. Then all you need to do is put your arms straight out in front of you. Your screen should be an arm’s length away with your fingers able to touch the screen.

Use your laptop safely

We know that it’s tempting to pick a comfy spot and work off your laptop when you’re working from home. If you are working from a laptop for any period of time, we would recommend setting it up on a laptop stand to raise it to eye height and then use a separate wireless keyboard to ensure the screen on the laptop stays at arm’s length. Take a look at our guide to working on a laptop safely here

Take regular breaks

There’s often a common misconception that ‘home workers don’t work as hard as those in the office’. However, in our experience, it’s often even harder to switch off as the borders between work and home life blur. If you are working from home, make sure that you agree strict hours with your employer so that you feel comfortable in shutting down at a set time and getting on with your evening just as you would in a 9-5 office.

We also tend to have prompts to move around and take a break. Making your colleagues tea or chatting around the water cooler might not seem significant, but these little micro-breaks are great productivity boosters and also prevent you from sitting down all day. When you are working from home, try setting yourself little reminders to take proper breaks! If you are using Google Chrome, we recommend the free Posture Minder app. Its quirky little reminders always encourage us to sit up straight!

Try a workstation self-assessment

A workstation assessment (DSE) is a legal requirement in offices with 5 or more screen users. As well as compliance, they are useful for pointing out issues that might harm you in the long run. Try an online assessment from as little as 99p to highlight problems with your home workspace.

Try out some simple desk exercises

We can’t stress enough how important is to try to get as much movement into your day as possible. It’s our mantra that prevention is better than cure, and making sure that you take preventative measures in setting up your workstation can make a huge difference later down the line.  At Posture People we all use standing desks and ergonomic chairs that help us get more movement into our day without having to think about it. If you are consciously trying to squeeze more movement into an otherwise sedentary day, try these simple desk exercises.

Some other things to consider in your home office

WIFI speed: If you find your internet connection is slow get a WIFI extender, it will bump your WIFI speed.

Lighting: Make sure the area you work in isn’t too dark and dingy, it can make the screen’s light more harmful to your eyes and make you feel tired. If the lighting in the room is too bright it can cause migraines and headaches, find lighting that is comfortable for you.

After reading all our advice we hope that it helped give you some knowledge on how to set up your own home office!

If you need any advice on your home set-up, we are more than happy to help! Leave your questions and comments below or call Posture People HQ on 0330 332 0880

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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