Working from home is the new normal
The Covid-19 pandemic has created an indefinite work-from-home set up for many people around the world. That means not only sharing workspace with whomever else you live with, but it can also mean the couch has now become your office. Awesome, right? Kind of, until a few days in you notice that you just can’t get comfortable or you just can’t find your focus. There’s also the danger that you start working until late at night, unable to put away the work when it’s right there at arm’s length.
Better concentration and comfort are just a few of the reasons why it’s important to set up an optimal workspace for yourself. “Your workspace is important not just for productivity, but also for your long-term mental and physical health,” explains Cameron Yuen, a physical therapist. “An individualised ergonomic setup can help with focus, headaches, neck pain and back pain. Postural neck and back pain especially are tough to recover from if you are forced to work from a poor set up.” A healthy set up will spill over into other areas too – it can boost your energy, ease pain and soreness and improve your mood.
We spoke with Yuen and other wellness experts to learn how to set your workspace up for success at home.
Have a designated work area
Most people won’t have the luxury of designating a room for work. Still, you’re better off creating some separation between where you work and where you typically unwind and relax in the evening. “To keep motivation and focus stronger during work time, try to choose a more tucked away spot that’s away from distractions,” says Julie Groveman, a licenced psychologist.
Do your best to set up boundaries to avoid having your office, living area and meals all in the same spot. “If you have the space to do it, separate each of these areas, so you have more room to move around and you don’t feel so ‘stuck’ in one spot all day,” says Rachel Goldman, clinical psychologist. “Setting up an area that works for you is in your control, even if you are limited to a small space. You know yourself best and what you need to function at your best. Take the time to assess that and then create it.” Be creative: Even if you need to work at the kitchen table, try to do it in a different chair than the one you typically sit in to eat.
Be sure to also follow these rules to get more done when working from home.
Consider a desk and chair set up
Since you may be working at home for the foreseeable future, if you have space, try to create a desk and chair set up (or consider purchasing a desk and chair if you have the means). Just try to avoid working on the couch. “As with all ergonomics, you want to make your environment fit you and your own needs, and not the other way around,” suggests Yuen. So if you’re sitting at a higher desk or table, you want to be able to adjust your height to fit at that table. “You don’t want to have to contort your body because your chair is too low,” says Yuen. “Instead, you want a chair that you can adjust up and down to fit your workspace. If you have a larger desk or an angled desk, you will also want a chair that can rotate with wheels so that you can move your entire body rather than repeatedly rotating from your spine. This variability makes an office chair superior to a recliner.”