Working from home isn't easy for everyone. Whether you don't have the right set-up or a designated work space, these tips will help you get more comfortable and productive.
By now we've all gotten practice to work from home. While it can be distracting and is not everyone's favourite way of working, there are lots of tips you can implement to make yourself more comfortable and productive.
Let's get started!
General work from home tips
Change out of your pyjamas
Make sure you get up, showered & dressed every morning. This will help set your work mindset in gear as your brain associates loungewear with relaxing.
Designate a specific workspace
Working from bed may be tempting but is not only going to mess up your sleep schedule but also your back. Set up a designated workspace in your home and do your work from there.
Close your laptop during lunch break
It might not be a big deal to leave your computer on while eating lunch, but incoming notifications and emails might lead to working through your break. It's especially important now, when working from home for a prolonged time period, to take actual breaks away from your screen.
Take frequent breaks and if possible, try to get some fresh air
Take a walk (responsibly!) during lunch, get outside and get some fresh air for a change of scenery before heading back to the screen.
It may be tempting to call your walk from the bedroom to kitchen and livingroom, and back to the kitchen your daily workout. But make sure to actually get moving as our daily step count is most likely much lower and it will help with inspiration and productivity when you return to work. There's plenty of workout videos on youtube and fitness apps (Downdog, FIIT, NTC)
Don't get sucked into the downward spiral of crisps and sweets all day. Avoid unhealthy snacks throughout the day to feel sluggish and stock up on fresh fruit, nuts and veggies instead.
There's a lot of things out of our control, so instead focus on what you can control and start noticing the small things that brought you happiness that day. Did you wake up from the sun shining in your room? Does your coffee taste extra good? Start a journal recording all these little positives and set your intention for the day.
Organising your new 'workplace'
If you are using a desktop, try to follow these tips:
- Your forearms should be roughly horizontal when you are typing and your eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen.
- Make sure there is enough work space around you for any papers or other equipment you need.
- Arrange the desk and screen to avoid glare, or bright reflections. This is often easiest if the screen is not directly facing windows or bright lights.
- Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent harsh light.
- Make sure there is space under the desk to move your legs.
- Avoid excess pressure from the edge of your seat on the backs of your legs and knees. Resting your feet on something might help with this.
- Ideally you should have space in front of your keyboard so you can rest your hands and wrists when not typing.
- Try to keep wrists straight when typing.
- Good keyboard technique is important – try to keep a softtouch on the keys and don’t overstretch your fingers.
- If you use a separate mouse, position it within easy reach, so it can be used with a straight wrist.
- Sit upright and close to the desk to reduce arm strain.
- Move the keyboard out of the way if it is not being used.
- Support your forearm on the desk, and don’t grip the mouse too tightly.
- Rest your fingers lightly on the mouse buttons and do not press them hard.
- Make sure individual characters on the screen are sharp, in focus and don’t flicker or move.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
- Make sure the screen surface is clean.
- When setting up software, choose text that is large enough to read easily onscreen when sitting in a normal comfortable working position.
- Select colours that are easy on the eye.
Take a break!
Breaking up long spells of computer work helps prevent fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache.
The following may help:
- Stretch and change position.
- Look into the distance from time to time, and blink often.
- Change activity before you get tired, rather than to recover.
- Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones.Timing and length of changes in activity or breaks for computer use is not set down in law and arrangements will vary depending on a particular situation.
- The HSE recommends that you try to take a break of around 10 minutes after 1 hour of being sat at your computer.
- This is better than taking a longer break but after 2 hours.
- These same controls will also reduce risks associated with laptops too. In addition:
- Whenever possible, use a docking station or full-sized keyboard and mouse.
- The height and position of your laptop’s screen should be angled so that you are sitting comfortably and any reflection is minimised.
- More breaks may be needed.
Hopefully these tips will help you get more comfortable in your own work from home environment and help you minimize distraction and fatigue. Regardless of working from home, a healthy lifestyle will lead to overall more productivity, so you might want to consider keeping these new habits (diet, exercise, getting outside) once regular life resumes.