Most desk workers are going to be working from home at least partially for the foreseeable future. Make sure you’re set up to succeed with these top tips!
1. Assess your posture
The average employee who works from home (WFH) is seated at their desk for 9 hours every day, and many admit to even longer hours now that working days are not book-ended by commuting. Inevitably, these long stretches of time spent in one position mean that you might start to experience back, neck and other muscle pains – which can hamper productivity.
Knowledge is power when it comes to solving postural problems that could be slowing you down. Online tools like VIDA use your computer’s webcam to intelligently assess your desk posture (including your head angle, shoulder alignment and distance from the screen) in about five minutes. This and VIDA’s other scientifically-validated assessment approaches will automatically produce a personalised report with recommendations to help you make your working set-up healthier and more productive. This could include anything from bespoke exercises, to setting the right height of your laptop screen or introducing a mental health boosting item like a plant into your space.
2. Upgrade your working environment
Not surprisingly, the physical features of your workspace are just as important to your health and wellbeing as your actual desk setup. Research shows that a clutter-free, naturally lit room helps us to remain calm, positive, alert and focused. So avoid basement or window-free rooms if possible, and seek out spaces that are bright, well ventilated and temperature controlled.
The introduction of plants into your WFH space has also been proven to have a beneficial impact on your mental health and productivity levels; in part due to their calming aesthetic impact. If you live in a busy urban area, noise-cancelling headphones and an air-purifier will give your space and productivity levels an even bigger boost.
Also, ensure you enjoy where you’re sitting while working! Even going as far as bringing in lighting, soft furnishings and prints that bring you joy and make you feel calm. This will make your working day far more enjoyable and therefore productive.
3. Switch up where you sit
A change of scene can have a big psychological impact on the way we work. Simply moving your desk from the front of the living room to the back of the living room – or working in the kitchen for a day – can help generate fresh thinking and creative ideas. So next time you’re really stuck in a slump, try moving seats or taking your desk into a different room. You might be surprised at the difference it can make! (Investing in a portable or foldable desk will make this a little easier).
4. Try standing up
You’d be surprised at how effective standing up can be when it comes to changing your energy and boosting productivity. I’d recommend either investing in a standing desk (or asking your employer to do so), or place your laptop on the top of a shelf or a chest of drawers that has a flat surface at around chest height.
Standing up is good for your body, easing pressure on your lower back and allowing you to stretch out and distribute your weight more evenly. Going from sitting to standing can also make it easier to focus on a specific task – be it a meeting where you need to bring some energy, or a job that requires deep thought or creativity. Preferences vary but best advice is to stand for about 20-30 minutes a few hours per day.
5. Put your work equipment away at the end of the day
When working from home, lots of us have constructed makeshift offices at kitchen tables or have set up desks in bedrooms and living rooms. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a purpose-built home office, make sure you put your work equipment away at the end of the day. And I mean properly away, out of sight! Put laptops, notebooks, laptop stands and any other paraphernalia in a cupboard or corner where you won’t have to look at it all evening. If you have a desk, try and put it in a different room out of sight.
Clearly differentiating between work time and personal time in the evenings will help you to switch off, meaning you’ll be more productive the next morning when you set your desk up again ready to work.
6. Take the time to do something non-work-related for yourself each morning
Whether it’s a ten minute stretch, a thirty minute workout, a short walk or reading a few pages of a book, take some time each morning to do something for yourself that isn’t work-related. If you’ve done something you enjoy before the working day has even started, you can feel great about your day before it has even really begun. You’ll likely find it easier to focus having done something for yourself – particularly if it involves going outside or moving your body – and no matter what happens at work that day, you will already have a small success to be grateful for.
It’s important to remember that preventing even the smallest injuries can prevent bigger issues down the line. For that reason everyone should do an in-office and/or home working risk assessment or desk assessment and have a good ergonomic workstation. Your health is the most important thing you own, so you need to treat it that way!