Work From Home: Design Your Space for Success
When the pandemic hit, millions of Americans found themselves working from home – for many, it was the first time. Business owners like Uprighter Willow Hill, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Scout Lab, made the choice to have the team go fully remote in order to ensure their safety. And in fact, many US companies are now saying they will allow or even encourage work from home even after a vaccine is found. However, the shift from the office to the home is much more than a mere location change. Some of the many challenges include distractions, lack of space and of course – the lack of equipment and know-how to set up a workspace that supports workers ergonomically. This translates into some serious challenges – from finding it more difficult to be productive to worse posture (which 34% of respondents to an Upright survey have reported). Do you find yourself missing your office chair? You’re not alone. According to our survey, 29% of respondents miss theirs, too. We can’t necessarily help you unite with your chair but we have accumulated some recommendations for a more ergonomically-sound, creativity-boosting and aesthetically-pleasing working from home space.
First, Find Your Neutral Posture
“Sheltering in place and working from home is like a ticking time bomb for ergonomic injury,” says Pricelda Cid, an economist and occupational therapist who’s founded Ergotherapy to promote healthy work environments. Most of us don’t realize but modern office furniture is built to support our neutral posture, which is the position that requires the least amount of effort for the body to maintain while engaging inactivity. At home, many of us are tempted to work from the bed, couch or kitchen table – which could be harmful.
If you’re working from a laptop, a laptop riser and external keyboard and mouse are an absolute must, says Cid. If you don’t have a riser, you can use a stack of books instead or connect your laptop to an external monitor – make sure the monitor is at eye level so you don’t create tension in the neck. Another foundational piece of your work setting is your office chair. Invest in an ergonomic chair and utilize the 30-day trial periods many upscale chair manufacturers offer to make sure it’s a good fit, recommends Cid.
Let There Be Light
Another key ingredient to a productive workspace (whether it’s an entire room or just a desk) that makes you happy is natural lighting. As a creative who spends hours in front of her screen, uprighter Willow Hill paid extra attention to choosing the brightest room in the house as her home office. Beyond seeing more clearly, natural lighting gives you a natural energy boost – and can’t we all use that these days?
Surround Yourself with Inspiration
As a creative accustomed to frequent travel, Hill found herself missing the inspiration she’s used to gain from exploring new places. “Because travel is very limited during this time I selected prints from some of my favorite museum experiences I’d had around the world and am framing them on a gallery wall to remind me of my adventures,” she told us. Whether you miss travelling, too, or are grateful to stay put, surrounding yourself with inspiring art and mementos can lift your spirit and help you feel at home at your home-working situation.
It’s a Zoom life and we’re just living in it. “In creating my desk space I knew that I would be on Zoom calls for a good portion of my day,” says Hill, whose work as a founder of a creative agency requires much client face-time.”I optimize my decor and monitor to show a clean and well-designed space and ensure there is no messy or cluttered background that distracts from the productivity of my conversations.” A good way to adopt this tip is to make sure that you have a strong visual element as a backdrop – it could be a bold-color painted wall, a wallpaper, a prominent piece of art or even your home library with some pretty accessories and photos arranged on the shelves.
Mix Practical With Personal
Emanuela Biener has been documenting workspaces since 2017 in her magazine Miss Mandala and her book Women & Spaces. As a content creator and a consultant coaching creative women in business, she has the front row (ergonomic) seat to how workspaces impact mood, productivity and creativity. The secret? Biener says it’s all about mixing the practical and the personal/ “Make sure to have everything you need at an arm’s reach – in drawers or desktop storage solutions. But on top of that, make sure you also have things you love around you: things that are meaningful to you, or that would make you smile when you lift your eyes off the screen. It could be one accessory or many; you work hard enough and long enough, and you deserve a pleasant work environment,” explains Biener.
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