Setting up an effective WFH office has become an essential requirement. The pandemic has changed working life, as we have known it. Industries are still grappling with changing business models and the new norm of employees working from home. For employees, it has been a drastic change. From well-set offices, they are now trying to go through a day’s work, at a home that has its own set of challenges. Going forward, it seems that having a permanent office at home would be essential as more companies convert to a WFH model. Here are some key steps you can take in setting up your own functional, permanent, and effective WFH office.
Most people face the challenge of a small-sized home. Even in a reasonably sized house, there are other occupants that demand your time and space such as a spouse, kids or house helps. Here, it becomes crucial that you create a space that gets you into the “zone”. The best option is dedicating a room (maybe a guest room) as a home office for your spouse & you. If not, you can use a divider or a folding screen in a large room like the living room.
Designers suggest a layout change if possible. A sofa against a wall can be moved to the room center, making space for a desk in its place. A wall hanging desk like the ones from Declutter is also a good option. Most homes have a neglected open space. Sometimes a vacant room center may offer space for a well-designed circular work table with storage. Or you can use the space next to windows which are usually free in most homes. Other ideas include garage spaces, lofts, and large corridor spaces. If you aren’t sure how a layout change would look, you could try interior design apps like Infurnia, to do a check before implementation. The goal is to have a space that is separate enough to be called an office.
A table is the most important element of an office. Temporary solutions for tables include using the family dining table or encroaching on the children’s study table. Most homes don’t have arrangements for a separate work/study table for adults. However, for an effective WFH office, one cannot stress the importance of the right table, enough. As per industry standards, a work desk needs to be 29 inches above floor level. Appropriate chairs can be used to make it comfortable for users as per their height. The Key is to get a table that’s comfortable for you. If you have a desktop, ensure your table has a pull-out keyboard drawer that allows for comfortable typing. One can find many cost-effective yet long-lasting options online on sites such as Urban Ladder.
For laptops, the tables might need to be slightly lower. When looking at your screen, your eyesight should be lower than 25% of the screen. Your arms should rest easily and shouldn’t be too arched, as that creates long term strain on the wrists. Designers advise on the use of laptop stands that help raise the height of your laptop- creating a more healthy arrangement. Some stands are equipped with in-built USB power fans which help in cooling the system. Laptop stands are practical yet small investments worth making to avoid repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).
Investment in an ergonomic chair is essential if you are creating an effective WFH office for the long term. Unlike in offices, where you must adjust to the chairs provided (which are usually not right), this is your chance to select a chair that is perfect for you. A professional chair is adjustable, cushioned, has wheels, and is ergonomically designed. While you can choose from options online, it is advisable that you visit a store to try the chair before purchase.
Do note that professional chairs are expensive. However, there are other ergonomic options available in alternative materials that are just as functional and light on the pockets. Sturdy plastic is often used to make highly comfortable chairs which are great for your posture, like those here. Any chair should support your lumbar area and neck. A good armrest is helpful- you shouldn’t apply extreme pressure but only use an armrest as a guide to position your arms. A lower-back orthopaedic cushion is something you can also consider to prevent injuries.
An effective WFH office should have ideal indirect lighting that is suitable for physical paper reading as well as laptop viewing. The best lighting position is an overhead light such as a ceiling light. The next best option is indirect light positioned in a way that considers the natural light and position of your computer screens. Indirect light means light from sources that do not come in between your field of vision or cause a glare on your computer screen. Natural light is great if you can guide it with curtains and shades. Also, do not forget to adjust your monitor brightness to a level that is comfortable to your eyes. Nowadays, one can also purchase zero power anti-blue light spectacles to reduce the harmful effects of the lights from mobiles and computers.
The knowledge economy is wired by the internet. If you are allowed to work from home, it means you are heavily reliant on a super-fast net connection. Be it zoom meetings, file uploads, working on cloud-based applications or sending emails; an internet connection is a basic requirement. For your WFH office, ensure you have one that is speedy and reliable.
A good approach is to have two connections. The main one and the other as a back-up. The back-up could be the hotspot of your phone or a cost-effective wireless-based plan. High-speed broadband is however a must. Straddle your choice between two service providers as it reduces your risk. Take recommendations from others in your city or location.
In a paperless world, there isn’t much filing that happens. However, for an effective WFH office, a neat desk is essential as it helps you be productive. Document holders, baskets, and drawers help one store the essentials & keep the work-place clean. Storage baskets made from rattan or other weaves are aesthetically appealing and functional. Architects & designers may have to deal with large size papers- a custom made chest of drawers is a good organization tool to keep papers safe & tidy. Overall, keep the non-priority items away from your eyesight. After all, it should be a place where you want your focus to be on the things that matter.
While setting up an effective WFH office can be challenging, it can also be fun. It allows you to design every aspect as per your needs. Employees have reported a remarkable increase in productivity after creating a specific WFH space for themselves. Along with travel time being cut, if you can make the best of WFH by finishing tasks in time; it leaves you with a lot of time for things that matter. And as is evident above, setting up a WFH office is very easy.