Tips and Tricks for the Ergonomic Home Office
Whether you’re working remotely or on a flex schedule, an ergonomic home office setup is key for helping you feel — and perform — your best. Read on to learn about some clever solutions and handy tools for all kinds of spaces.
When most people think of the term “home office,” they probably think of a bedroom, den, or attic — or maybe even a basement or garage — where they can spread out, close the door, and get some work done.
During these tricky times, more people than ever are working from home. If you’re among those who go to work without actually going to work, setting up a comfortable home office is the first step toward maximizing your productivity and minimizing your risk of injury.
But you don’t need a dedicated room to set up an effective home office, just some dedicated space.
Workspaces for Shared Spaces
Your home office doesn’t have to be big. It just has to work. For you.
If you don’t have a separate room to set up an office, you can still find some space to work.
Consider these creative options:
• A dedicated wall or corner in your master bedroom, living room, kitchen, or dining room can be the next best thing to a dedicated room. Choose the one that offers the most space and/or peace and quiet.
• Use a smaller desk and some wall-mounted shelving to create a workspace at the top of a staircase, at the turn of a stairwell, or in the nook under the stairs. (Just make sure that the setup is narrow enough to allow others to pass by.)
• Convert a closet into a cubicle. Empty the contents, then add a desktop, shelving, and some task lighting. (See below.) Remove the doors to give your home a little extra depth, or simply close them when you’re done working (as long as your chair isn’t too big).
• If your entryway or foyer consists of little more than a table where you drop your keys or mail when you come home, why not replace the table with a small desk? A wall-mounted floating desk can serve as a nice alternative if space is limited.
• A narrow countertop with built-in desk drawers in the kitchen or elsewhere can serve as a perfect out-of-the way workspace, while its surrounding cabinets can keep your books, files, and supplies organized and out of sight when it’s quitting time.
While any of the above home office options might be a little noisy depending on your particular living situation, wearing earbuds while you work can help to cancel or drown out unwanted sounds. That said, all of the above options can be created with ergonomics in mind.
When you hear the term “ergonomic,” you probably think about chairs, desks, or keyboards. But ergonomics apply to lighting, too, and working without healthy lighting can counteract some of the health benefits of your healthy home office.
Without healthy lighting, you’ll be subject to glare and shadows that can cause eye fatigue and headaches. And you’ll wind up with a sore neck and eyestrain if you look at your computer screen for a long time, but don’t have enough light to see a notepad or other items on your desk.
When setting up your home office, be sure to maximize your proximity to natural light. To reduce glare, set up next to a window instead of in front of or behind one. Your computer screen should also be brighter than the light outside, so close your blinds or draw your shades on sunny days.
That said, computer screens emit a ton of light. A task light can offset that brightness and illuminate your entire desk area when you need to look down to read or write something.
A perfect task light for any home office setup, the Link Clamp Lamp by Pablo Designs comes in two sizes (small and medium) and features an easy-to-use clamp mount that firmly attaches to your desktop. The Element 790 LED Light’s pivot/swivel points at the base, stem, and head produce unmatched adjustability, while its compact design folds up easily when not in use. The Z-Bar Solo Lamp’s LED head swings up and down or pivots left and right, and its integrated touch sensor lets you dim or brighten your desk area with the simple slide of a finger.
Not only will the above recommendations ensure that you can safely see what you’re working on, but adding a downward shining floor lamp and lampshades to filter the ambient light around your desk area will ensure that others can easily see you during Zoom calls and other online work meetings.
When you sit with your feet flat to the floor, you create a contact point between the back of your thighs and the edge of the seat, which can cut off circulation to your lower legs and feet. Small enough to fit under even the tiniest of desks, the Humanscale FR300 and FR500 footrests not only elevate your feet, but also feature built-in rocking mechanisms that keep your legs working and blood flowing, which can help cut down on foot swelling and numbness, relieve lower back pain, and improve your posture.
Sitting for long periods of time can be devastating for your health. People who lead sedentary lifestyles are at greater risk for developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. If your home office space will accommodate it, you might want to consider a desk that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing.
Height-adjustable desks like the Ridella 48″ Sit to Stand Desk or the Migration SE Height-Adjustable Desk can help you avoid serious health conditions and prevent back problems, as well as increase your performance, concentration, and motivation. The Float Mini Adjustable Desk provides the same benefits in a more space-conscious design.
Arranging your computer screen(s) is pretty easy. The top of your screens should be just above eye level, and the screens should be just close enough to you that you can extend your arm and touch them with your fingertips. Always remember that your neck follows your eyes. Make sure your focal point doesn’t place your neck in an awkward position.
No matter how you choose to set up your workspace, your single most important home office investment should be your office chair.
If you’re like most remote workers, you spend hours sitting at your desk each day. In order to maximize your comfort and productivity — and minimize big problems down the road — it’s crucial that you invest in an ergonomic office chair that targets your lower back and provides strong lumbar support.
Your chair should allow you to focus on your computer screen while leaning slightly back — similar to sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, your arms should rest on the armrests so your shoulders stay relaxed, and your legs should be supported by the chair without your circulation being impeded by the edge of the seat.
Not only can your chair support your back, it can also help improve your posture by supporting your spine from the base of your skull down to your tailbone. This level of support will help you focus on your tasks, as well as save you big money on doctor’s visits and surgeries down the road.
Regarded by many as the best office chair on the market, the Herman Miller Aeron® Chair is noted for a unique mesh construction that conforms to your body for the epitome of comfort and support. The Gesture Chair by Steelcase features ingenious flexible arms that move to support your elbows while you’re using your laptop, tablet, phone, or other tech gadgets. More than 30 physicians and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics collaborated on the development of the Embody Chair by Herman Miller, which adapts to your movement and automatically adjusts to your shifting positions.
Still have questions about which home office setup might best fit your needs? Reach out to Smart Furniture today! Our interior designers can help you arrange the perfect workspace.