Whether you work from home infrequently or it’s where you earn your living, a dedicated and organized (or “organizable”) space is key to efficiency and performance. We’ve put together some tips that will help you work at home more comfortably and maximize your productivity.
Basic Needs for Your Home Office
A comfortable chair. Just about any flat surface can serve as a desk (see below), but if you’re not comfortable in your chair, your work – and back – will suffer. Choose a padded chair with a seat that swivels to make it easier to reach your equipment and supplies; the chair should be on rollers so you can maneuver around your space without standing up. A hard-backed, stationary dining chair will do in a pinch, but it will make long hours in front of the computer feel like an eternity.
According to the Einstein School of Medicine at Yeshiva University, these modifications to your posture and computer can help you avoid back, wrist and eye strain:
- Adjust your chair so your thighs are horizontal with the floor, your feet are flat, and the backrest supports your lower back. If your feet do not rest comfortably on the floor, use a footrest
- Adjust your keyboard or chair height so that, while you're typing, your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and your wrists are straight
- Adjust your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at your eye level
- Use a document holder so your papers can be kept at the same level as your computer monitor rather than flat on the desk
- Make motions such as typing and stapling with the least amount of force possible
- Adjust the window blinds or lighting so there is no glare on the computer screen
The right-sized desk. We’ve seen DIY desks made out of everything from old doors and vintage flooring to upcycled road signs (find some great ideas, here). Whatever you select to act as your work surface, according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), “A well-designed and appropriately-adjusted desk will provide adequate clearance for your legs, allow proper placement of computer components and accessories, and minimize awkward postures and exertions.” Here are some additional tips:
- When setting up your space, leave at least 20 inches between you and the computer monitor to reduce eye strain
- Position the monitor so it’s at the appropriate viewing angle, which is directly in front of you so that you’re not straining your neck up or down
- Choose or create a corner desk if you need additional space and depth to accommodate large monitors or multiple items
Good lighting. Overhead lights will provide your basic lighting needs, but you’ll also need the more focused light of a table lamp. Choose one with a flexible or articulated neck so you can position it exactly where you need illumination. The one below is from Target and priced around $40.
Wrist rest. The most common job-related repetitive trauma disorders (RSD) involve injury to the upper extremities (wrists, elbows, and hands) due to repetitive keyboard activities like typing. You can relieve some of the stresses involved in using the computer – and perhaps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome – by using a mousepad that features a built-in wrist rest; you can also buy wrist rests for use with your keyboard when you’re typing.
Supplies. To avoid taking time to run out to get supplies when you run out, keep a stash of things you need in a closet or cupboard. Paper (sheets and pads), printer ink, pens, markers, sticky note pads, highlighters, file folders, labels, sealing tape, staples, and binder clips are some of the most commonly used and replenished supplies, according to Staples.
Smart storage. If your home office doesn’t have enough space for a storage cabinet or bookshelf, there are still a number of options for keeping the tools of your trade within reach.
- Ottoman. Add an ottoman to your office that features storage under a hinged top. Bonus: the ottoman is handy seating for guests but doesn’t take up the space of a big chair. And a nice place to rest your legs when you’re taking a break!
- Small bath cabinet. You can find bath cabinets in most home goods departments. Choose one with the right features for your storage needs, like drawers, shelves and even a locking cabinet door. The one below is from Pottery Barn.
- Small file cabinet. Most of us keep 90% of our files on our computers or a server, but for those who are required to maintain paper records, a file cabinet is ideal for most any small space. But these traditional office items don’t just have to hold your folders – take out the side rails or dividers and use a file cabinet to store supplies.
If you’re a Springs Apartments resident who works from home, you probably have some great ideas for optimizing space and making the most of your time. We welcome your insights and encourage you to share your tips!