Elevate Your Home Office with these Home Ergonomic Tips

March 21, 2021
10 Minute Read
10 Minute Read
March 21, 2021

Elevate your Home Office with these Home Ergonomic Tips

If you have recently started making your residence a place of business because of the prevailing pandemic, like the rest of us, there’s a great possibility that you have not correctly set up an effective home office or workspace where you can get a lot of work accomplished.

Operating from home has been the new standard for quite a while now due to COVID-19, but many of us did not see this coming and are totally unprepared to have to make video calls in our home clothes.

Since you will be occupying a lot of time on your workstation trying to get your obligations accomplished, it is vital to learn everything you can regarding establishing ergonomics for the home office.

If you don’t have a proper workstation, probabilities are, you’ve been doing all the tasks from your couch or on your bed and are not completing most of your duties because of how uncomfortable you are.

It is critical not only for your overall productivity levels but also for your health.

So, what is an ergonomic workspace?

An ergonomic workspace is an area where you can work efficiently and comfortably, with limited distractions, so you can accomplish all your given tasks and eliminate health risks at the same time.

An ergonomic workspace should be devised to accommodate your needs, and workspace may vary per individual. Still, there are comprehensive guidelines we can follow to support you in getting the best out of your workstation.

Why is ergonomics consideration important, you ask? If your home office is not optimized, you will not be performing well, simply put. If you do not have a defined area where you can work, you'll quickly get distracted.

If your workspace is not optimized, it may take you twice as long to accomplish your tasks. If you don't set up your station suitable to your body's needs, you might end up developing some physical pains from having to work all day.

Physical Pain Caused by Working on a Computer

As mentioned, if you don’t design your workstation efficiently, you might end up having to deal with the following physical pains induced by long hours of sitting at a desk:

  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Low back pain
  • Eyestrain
  • Sciatica
  • Knee pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Hip pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Not only are these painful, but they will also cost you your time and money, eventually. You can definitely avoid these physical pains from working long hours of sitting at a desk by setting up an ergonomic workstation where you can operate efficiently.

The last thing that you want is to spend your precious time and money during these physical pains rather than preventing them in the first place.

Home Office Ergonomics: Picking a Suitable Workspace

Of course, we all have diverse living conditions, and not all of us have that spare room in our dwelling that we can turn into a virtual office. However, before setting up your workstation, you must first distinguish which section in your residence best accommodates your need for a workspace.

Even business people from various companies also had to determine where they can situate their workstations at home to get optimal outcomes.

Before we look at your residence's distinct areas where you can set up an office, let's first understand the three main factors in choosing the perfect home-office spot.

  • Pick a secluded spot.
    • We can't emphasize enough how valuable privacy is when it comes to getting your tasks done, as privacy aids eliminate distractions; if you reside alone, good for you! You have the first factor down.
    • If you live with your family members and don't have an additional room to set up an office, you can also go for other means to ensure privacy, like putting up temporary partition walls or privacy screens.
    • If this is not feasible in your current dwelling circumstance, what you can do is set up your desk or tuck your desk away from foot traffic and make use of your headphones to reduce disturbances.
  • Pick a spot close to your power sockets and has comfortable access to your internet connection
    • If you constantly have to get up just to plug and charge your devices, you will not accomplish many tasks.

Home spots you can choose from:

  • Bedroom
    • It can be quiet here which can help you focus on your work but just make sure that you put an actual desk inside and a comfortable chair to support your back.
  • Kitchen
    • It is also ok to work in your kitchen especially if you can set up a nook separate from your kitchen appliances. Dining tables have ample surfaces where you can work, just make sure that you pick an office chair to help support your back.
  • Studio
    • If you live in a studio and there aren’t many walled areas, always look for ways to avoid working on your couch or your bed. You can go for small tables or you can even get creative by constructing a folding table that you can fold out of sight after working.

Home Office Ergonomics: Setting up your Workspace

Here are the things you can do so that your workspace can set you up for success:

  • Take small breaks at 20-minute intervals so that you don't mess up your eyes and don't cause you headaches.
  • From time to time, make sure that you are standing up and stretching to help your muscles relax.
  • Reduce the neck's awkward positions by setting the monitor below the height while seated or standing.
  • Modify the office chair or seat height, so your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor.
  • Secure excellent workspace brightness when working on printed materials and concentrated, dispersed light for computer work.
  • Modify the seatback – the lower back (lumbar area) plus mid-back should be well-supported.
  • Keep elbows adjacent to the sides – modify armrests so that the forearms' weight leans on the arms rests.
  • Modify the back seat height angle and lean tension, respectively, and relax back in the chair.
  • Ensure that the keyboard's ASDF row is at the elbow height for a sitting or standing workstation.
  • Secure that the monitor is positioned 20-40 inches (about an arm's distance) away from the eyes.
  • Avoid hunching the shoulders forward.
  • Ensure that the wrists are elevated, and the hands are adjacent to the forearms.

Home Office: Lighting Ergonomics

Home office lighting is closely related to productivity. If you’re constantly feeling low on energy when working, you may need a light bulb change.

Poor lighting eats away your energy, lowers morale, and causes eyestrains and headaches. Keep this up for a long time, and it’ll impair your work efficiency.

Today, we’re going to talk about the optimal lighting for your home office.

So, How Does Lighting Affect Productivity?

You may already know a bit about how we react to poor lighting even without reading a scientific study.

For example:

  1.   Bright light may be too harsh, so we instinctively squint our eyes when we encounter vehicles on high beams.
  2.   Staring at the computer for long periods strain our eyes, making our eyes feel dry.

In other words, there are specific types of light that activate the circadian rhythm of our body. Light can trick our body to relax or be in stimulation.

Even certain lighting helps decrease depression, enhance mood, and raise up alertness levels.

Meaning, if you spend time learning how lighting affects our performance, you can definitely trick your brain into performing better.

Considering lighting factors in your home office may help you kick off your Monday blues.

Getting Lighting Right In Your Home Office

Daylight

Position your work desk in front of your window. By doing this alone, it gives you an instant boost of productivity. Artificial light cannot compare to what natural light offers.

Aside from giving you a front-row seat to the best neighborhood view while you’re typing away, it also increases morale.

Find a place that offers good access to natural light. If it’s not possible, limit the use of artificial light when working in the morning – it also reduces utility costs.

Here are four benefits on how daylight can positively impact work productivity:

Sleep Better

The researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago found out that there is a correlation between workplace natural light exposure and the employee’s quality of sleep.

Employees that are working in offices with windows get 46 minutes MORE sleep at night. What’s more, those very same employees have a higher sleep quality as they have more time in deep sleep. The workers do not sleep talk, sleepwalk, nor do they snore as much as the other group.

What makes windows so awesome?

It’s because of our circadian rhythm. It dictates the release of hormones, most especially melatonin, our natural sleep-wake cycle, and even our body temperature.

If you spend too many hours indoors and do not have enough natural daylight, it disrupts the rhythm, leading to a lot of other problems. Yes, including insomnia.

Mental Health

Working slowly transforms us into workaholics. The lack of social connection with our co-workers leads us to work more, and spend more time indoors.

We have to make use of our Netflix subscription, right?

Wrong. No daylight exposure is detrimental to our mental health, which causes us to be less productive.

You may experience depression, bipolar disorder condition, and seasonal affective disorder. These are connected to the disturbance of your circadian rhythm.

Natural light helps workers to become happier and calmer generally. People who are exposed to natural light know how to handle stress better.

A negative working environment causes physical and mental health concerns. Depression and anxiety have a massive impact on the global economy.

The estimated cost of lost productivity is $1 trillion per year. And yes, adding a window into the picture, can greatly reduce the number.

If you’re a business owner, think wisely.

Physical Health

Not having enough daylight leads to Vitamin D deficiency, which takes a toll on your physical abilities. Lack of Vitamin D affects the regulation of your immune system and affects your cognitive function. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.

Cohere did a study, and the researchers found out that employees who work without windows have 6.5% MORE sick leave annually.

Increase Energy Levels

Workers can learn, think, and become more creative when their office has access to daylight.

A study done by Eco Business concludes that there is a 5% to 40% of productivity in workplaces with sufficient natural light.

It’s a win-win situation for the employers and employees – more productivity, lesser stress levels.

The result is the same for school as well. Students can learn and retain information better when classes take place in a classroom with windows.

Cut Costs

It allows business owners to save money on utility bills. 47% of energy is allocated for air-conditioning and lighting. Offices that have windows to let natural light come in saves money on heating, lighting, and air-conditioning.

Home offices are able to save costs as well. Moreover, it lowers your environmental carbon footprint.

Artificial Light

While maximizing daylight is the best option, not everyone has access to natural light. What’s more, not many freelancers have the luxury to build an ergonomic study at homes.

Of course, there are ways you can create an ergonomic home office without spending big bucks.

For example:

Instead of purchasing an ergonomic office chair that costs a few hundred dollars, you can have the same experience by purchasing lumbar support instead. It still works in getting you into the optimal sitting posture minus the lavish spending.

If you’re trucked into a makeshift space in your bedroom or living room, then the chances that your overhead lighting isn’t suitable for work are high.

Normally, the lighting is placed behind you, casting shadows in your workspace. If the lighting is suspending, then you have to put up with glares and reflections on your PC screen.

So, what exactly can you do?

Get a task light. You don’t have to purchase the high-end ones necessarily. You may use your bedside lamp if it produces enough light.

Short on desk space? Consider using a floor-mounted light. If your space does not have plug sockets, invest in a lamp light with a USB connection.

A task light has its own advantages as well. You can easily move it away when you’re done for the day and bring it with you during travels, so you can work comfortably anywhere without straining your eyes.

Tip: Make sure that the light is positioned appropriately to allow it to cast a uniform light through your work desk. It won’t create any discomfort or glare.

Takeaway

Your home office’s lighting intensity plays a big role in your overall creativity. If you want to maximize your workplace, it’s best to start with the bulb hovering your head.

While there are other factors to making the ideal ergonomically-friendly workspace, lighting ambiance is often overlooked.

Together with proper posture and head level, integrate home office lighting into the list and best workplace results.

 FAQs

1.)    What’s the ideal type of light to use for work?

Go for modern LED lights as these last long and low on energy. It is flicker-free, so it easy on the eyes. There is also a warm-dim function on the same models as well, so you can adjust the color temperature for optimal work experience.

2.)    What’s the common lighting problem in a workplace?

The common workspace lighting problem is glare. It is what happens when a source of bright light affects how you see your workspace.

3.)    How does lighting affect productivity?

Lighting affects productivity as it affects the brain’s ability to focus. Brightly lit environments allow you to focus more on your task. Meanwhile, dim-lit workspaces decrease your brain’s ability to gather data.

4.)    Which light is best for the eyes for work?

The best light work and productivity is warm light.

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