During the first weeks of lockdown, constrained to work from home, we transformed our kitchen tables, couches, and bedroom nightstands into home offices. Working and living in one space made it difficult to balance our personal and professional lives. Our partners became our colleagues, and our kids needed more tending and care. On top of distractions and exclusively virtual interactions, less-than-ideal ergonomic conditions made it almost difficult for many to be productive as usual.
The new world of work is pushing us to adapt. From investing in ergonomic furniture to introducing new healthy habits, here are our 5 best tips to help you feel and perform better when working from home.
1. Straighten up: Improve your posture
For many people, the average workday primarily consists of sitting in front of a computer. Here are a few reminders to achieve a proper sitting position:
Adjust your chair's height, so your elbows have an angle just above 90° when your forearms are resting on the desk surface. Bend your knees at 90° and keep your feet flat on the floor. Don't hesitate to use a footrest (stack of books, shoebox) if needed.
Sit as far back in the chair as possible. If your chair has lumbar support, adjust its height to support the natural curve of your back.
There is a reason "couch" rhymes with "slouch." But if you really want to work on the couch, you can use pillows to keep your posture in check. Put one under your buttocks, one behind your back to tilt your pelvis, and one under your laptop to bring the screen closer to eyes level.
We would still recommend investing in an ergonomic chair or asking your employer to pay for it - here's why. Interstuhl and Fully offer products with an appealing quality-price ratio, and Herman Miller’s chairs are best-in-class.
2. Level up: Set up your monitor at an appropriate height
If you're using a monitor, put it at arm's length. Keep your screen level to your eyes to avoid tilting or craning your neck. For a two-monitor setup, put your primary display in front of you, and the other one on the side (same distance and height). If you're using them both equally, they should be lined up so you sit right in the middle. Use a stand to raise the screen if you work directly on your laptop. The same distance and height rules can be applied.
In both cases (monitor or laptop with stand), you'll need an external keyboard and mouse. Consider keyboards that have an 8° angle to match the natural position of your hands. To complement it, an ergonomic mouse like the MX Vertical from Logitech is a great choice!
3. Keep your focus: Avoid or minimize distractions
How many tabs do you have open as you're reading this? And how many times do you check your phone throughout the day and get lost while scrolling through the infinite feed of cute animals, crazy stunts, or cooking hacks?
Disable all notifications on your phone or use its focus mode. Even better, keep it far away in another room and check-in only when you take your breaks. Make sure you keep a minimum number of things on your desk. Keep your water bottle near to help you keep hydrated. A notebook and a pen for quick notes. Add a plant and a good lamp, and that's all you need as your working desk clique.
Also, you might want to invest in a noise-canceling headset. In our opinion, it's an absolute necessity for deep focus. Especially when your partner is having a conference call while you are trying to finish that annual report.
4. Balance out: Adjust the temperature & air quality
Of course, you can't influence the climate you're in, but strive to create a stable environment inside your home.
If you have a thermostat, set it to 20°C. The ideal temperature means you are neither too cold nor too hot. If you can't regulate the temperature inside your home, listen to your body. Turn on the heater or put a sweater on when you’re cold, or switch on the air conditioner for that cool breeze feel. Another important thing is to ventilate your room often. Fresh air is essential for both your body and mind.
Surround yourself with green friends: luscious and living plants to ensure better air quality. Our favorites (and NASA's) are rubber plants (ficus elastica) and areca palms (chrysalidocarpus lutescens). They'll filter benzene, carbon monoxide, and other chemicals. Plus, they make a good focus point to help you with the 20-20-20 rule, meaning you look at something 20 feet away (like your charming plant) for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of screen time.
5. Move it: Get up and shake what your momma gave you
Our bodies are made for movement. So keep in mind to move throughout the day:
Go for a walk, do your calls standing, use a standing desk, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Take breaks every hour (or 30 minutes if you can) and walk around for 2 minutes.
Stretch your legs and arms, rotate your neck gently, or do a little dance to your fav song - instant happiness guaranteed!
We hope these tips will help you create a space that will be uniquely yours and help you be more focused and efficient. The era of working from anywhere is here, giving us the freedom to choose how we set up our working environment. That is why investing in a home workplace is essential for our mental health and productivity.
If you need additional advice on setting up your home working station, reach out to us!