Not all of us have the luxury of working from home in the comforts of a spacious home office. While it’d be nice to have a whole room dedicated for work, square-footage isn’t everything. There are things you can do to make a makeshift workstation more work-friendly. Below are our top tips. Take note and use what you already have at home to your advantage!
Take Care of Your Mind
Position Yourself by a Window
Working from home is not easy on the best of days. If you have kids or pets, you know this feeling all too well. There are distractions at every turn. While you cannot always escape your loved ones as you work from home, you can limit outside distractions. You can do this by positioning yourself adjacent to a window.
While there is a lot of debate regarding which position is the best for productivity, adjacent facing gives you the best of both worlds. Facing a wall eliminates distractions but it can often leave you feeling claustrophobic. Facing a window boosts creativity, but it can often make your mind wander. Positioning yourself adjacent to the window allows that natural light to shine through, without the direct line of sight to the outdoors. If you have a bay window (as shown above), close the blinds to the window you face and enjoy the daylight from the side windows without the distractions.
Do you find your eyes get tired looking at your computer screen? Limit computer screen fatigue by reducing monitor eye strain. The sun is a beautiful thing, but it is also powerful. It can damage your eyesight if you aren't careful. Protect yourself by getting a blue light protection screen or limiting the amount of glare being projected on your computer.
Surround Yourself With Plants
You can never go wrong with plants. They liven up a room with their vibrant colours and textures. Plants have a psychological and physiological response on the human body, reducing built-up stress and anxiety. Working from home can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Introduce some plants in your home and you will find that you are breathing better and thriving!
Take Care of Your Body
Avoid Working on a Sofa or Bed
If you don’t have an office or desk but need to work from home, you learn to become resourceful. Oftentimes this means working from a couch or any surface that will get the job done. However, this can quickly lead to back and neck pain.
A sofa or bed does not offer the same amount of support that a well-structured chair does. These furnishings, while cozy at first, force your body to bend awkwardly. Prolonged sitting in these positions can drastically affect spine health. However, if you get stuck at a sofa, make sure to have some pillows underneath your laptop to have the screen at eye level, no one needs serious neck pain.
The best way to protect your body is by sitting somewhere where you can adopt a proper desk posture. A kitchen table (or island) works best as a makeshift desk because it allows you to sit up straight without slouching. Make sure you take home ergonomics into consideration in order to maintain healthy work habits.
No Office Chair? No Problem
Don’t panic if you don’t have an ergonomic office chair at home. You can definitely still work effectively on a dining room chair. However, dining room chairs tend to be stiff. If you are sitting for an extended period of time, this can really do a number on your back.
To combat this and to prevent bad desk posture, add an extra layer of padding behind your spine. You can do this by propping a cushion behind your lower back or under your tush. If you don’t have the right cushions or ergonomic chair for the job, reach out to us and we can connect you with the right products for your needs!
Get Up and Move
Often we get so absorbed into design work, the hours fly by but then you stand up and realize you haven't moved for half the day. If your body is stiff and sore, your mind won’t work at its full capabilities. Avoid a sore neck/back while sitting at your desk. Set a timer every 30-minutes and get up and move! It is important to stay active and agile, whether you are at home or at work. A tip given to us by an optometrist to reduce eye strain is to look into the distance away from your screen every 10 minutes.
Try some at-home stretches! Stretching is a great way to loosen up tight muscles caused by repetitive motion strain. The Blue Zone Project by HealthWays has some great stretches outlined above. Give them a try today!
Elevate Your Laptop Screen
If you find that you are constantly looking down while working from home, straining your eyes and shoulders, use books or stacks of paper to prop your laptop up. This simple trick will prevent you from slouching at your desk. It will also prompt you to sit with the correct desk posture. If you don't like the book idea, a laptop stand will work wonderfully. Online retailers have many great options for home office ideas you should check out. We can also help by doing the shopping for you. Find out more about that here.
While you're at it, invest in a cordless mouse. Constantly maneuvering on a laptop touch pad can cause your wrist and fingers to seize up due to the compression of your median nerve. The median nerve controls the motor functions in your hands and wrists. If compressed, you can experience tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, or even a burning sensation migrating up the arm. After hundreds of hours of working on design work at a computer, we learned this lesson the hard way. Learn from our early mistakes, avoid carpal tunnel syndrome by investing in an ergonomic mouse. One of our favourites is the Logitech Mx Ergo, it was life-changing!
Use an Island as a Standing Desk
Can’t stand sitting for too long? We can relate. As they say, prolonged sitting is the new smoking. A kitchen island or tall console table makes a great alternative to a standing desk. It allows you to straighten out and stretch your spine and legs. It also allows you to relax your shoulders, preventing tension in the muscles. Standing with proper standing desk posture can reduce stress and alleviate headaches caused by muscle tension.
For more great desk posture tips, check out Office Ergonomics: Your How-to Guide.
Create a Life/Work Balance
Workout During the Day
It's important that your workday at home consists of breaks. Moving is also essential to your mental and physical health, even if it's only for a short while. MyFitness Waterloo is offering free 30-minute workout sessions on Facebook Live during this period of isolation. They take place daily at noon. You can find their full schedule posted on their Facebook page. Get up, get going, and join us this week! If you have any other great fitness suggestions or small businesses that need our support, leave us a comment on our Facebook or Instagram page.
Now that you have set yourself up for success by reading our work-from-home tips, put the tips into action! If you have a need that wasn’t addressed here, please reach out. We would be happy to help find a solution that works for you!