If you’re not a keyworker and you weren’t already working or studying from home before Covid-19, chances are that you’ve been busy integrating digital workplace culture into the confines of your home.
Between partners and kids making cameo appearances in your video calls and trying to complete crucial reports while balancing you laptop on the end of the ironing board, #WFH has its challenges.
But, space permitting, many of these can be overcome by implementing some sort of boundary between work and family life, so setting up a study, office or workstation is a savvy first move.
If you’re sick of slouching on the sofa with your laptop, don’t fear – these five things your remote office needs serve as a firm foundation for a fantastic remote office.
1. Your remote office needs a comfortable chair
Points if you avoid sitting entirely and are already set up with a vertical desk, but the majority of us feel more comfortable sitting down for most of our daily shift.
NHS postural advice on sitting at your desk correctly advises adjusting your chair so it supports your lower back, altering the height so that you can type on your keyboard with your forearms and wrists straight and level with the floor, resting your feet flat on the floor (no crossed legs!), and placing your screen at eye level right in front of you.
So the type of chair that supports these top tips should allow you to sit relatively upright with your joints at 90° angles, have a full back, an ergonomic waterfall seat with curved front and be completely adjustable, including movable arm rests.
If you don’t already have this type of chair, you might be able to order one online, although you’ll probably wait at least a month. So as a decent alternative, choose any solid household chair that allows you to sit upright and use cushions for comfort and to adjust the height.
2. Your remote office needs a decent desk
First-off, hopefully you’ve got some kind of desk or table to work at – even if it was originally designed for meals or DIY instead of office work. You’ll gather from the NHS advice above that sitting slumped on your settee will soon become a pain in the posterior in more ways than one!
However, if you’ve requisitioned a coffee or dining table, you might need to adjust the height so that your screen is at eye level. Stacking it on a few wide, annual-type books and resting your forearms on a cushion is an ad hoc workaround, but ordering a reasonably priced laptop stand or vertical desk is a better solution in the long term.
Cardboard standing desks are the way to go if you’re ready to take the plunge and experience the benefits of working without a chair, but if you’re happy to remain seated, ventilated laptop stands are also available from various home delivery sites at a reasonable price and they keep your machine cool as well as promoting better posture.
3. Your remote office needs some greenery
Now that you’re sitting pretty with a desk and chair combo conducive to health and productivity, you might feel that there’s still something missing.
So your next home office essential is probably a plant – numerous studies over the years have suggested that office plants increase productivity and happiness, both of which are priorities at the moment.
If your household already resembles a subtropical rainforest, grabbing some greenery might be as simple as temporarily adopting a pot plant from another room. However, if there’s nothing available, it’s still possible to order houseplants online and although you might wait a while, it’s something to look forward to.
Don’t forget that it’s also cathartic to talk to your plants, especially if you’re missing your colleagues. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it – there’s something surprisingly uplifting about chatting to a cheese plant or shooting the breeze with a lucky bamboo!
4. Your remote office needs a view
If you don’t have a dedicated study where you can close the door and get down to work, choose a room with a view if possible.
Time spent outdoors is restricted, but looking out of an airy window towards a park, woodland or even a city square or suburban road is some consolation, and beats staring at plain paint or wallpaper.
If setting yourself up at a window isn’t an option, don’t despair – there are other ways to weave visual stimulation into your workstation. For instance, family photos can prove motivational (especially if they’re of relatives you can’t see right now) or alternatively, how about creating a vision board and covering it with your favourite snaps, quotes and the goals you’re working towards achieving when some sort of normality returns?
Through matching the visuals in your office with your vision of a positive outcome, you can stay resilient and weather the storm when #WFH feels draining.
5. Your remote office needs music
If you don’t soundtrack your working day, you can tune out for this last point, but otherwise this is your big chance to listen to any type of music you like without your colleagues or classmates complaining – so grab it with both hands and crank up the volume on your headphones or Bluetooth speaker.
Looking for inspiration? With a quick search online you can find a repeat of the Met Opera’s recent At-Home Gala, the One World Together At Home concert features everyone from Lady Gaga to Taylor Swift and The Rolling Stones, and turning on your favourite radio station is a less intrusive and more intimate experience that having on the TV while you work.
But if you want to bond with workmates and family members you miss through your shared love of music, share a motivational song with them each morning or even create a customised playlist – here’s a timely song to get you started.
And finally, take a break from your duties, step back from your pc and dance like no one’s watching for a few minutes – it feels fantastic!
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