Cutting out the commute, increasing time with family, and protecting against illness are just a few perks of working from home. According to Flex Jobs, companies are realizing that 97% of people prefer some sort of remote work option, and are leveraging this fact to attract top talent and increase employee satisfaction. This switch is empowering employees to craft work environments that work for them. Whether you wear your PJs or a full suit while working from home, here are some key considerations to transform your home office into your own CEO suite.
Don’t slouch on the ergonomics
The cost of poor posture and cramped keyboards may be more than you realize. Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that ergonomic injuries account for one out of every three missing workdays. Their data shows that employees take more time off work from injuries caused by ergonomic problems, a median of 11 days, than any other injuries or illnesses.
Start off with seating. Look for a chair with adjustment options so you can dial things into your unique body and seating preferences. Sitting for long periods of time without lower back (lumbar) support flattens the natural curve of your spine.
Additionally, arm and head rests with adjustment options allow for a more comfortable and relaxed seating position. A good ergonomic chair will have built-in supports, with some chairs even featuring breathable mesh backrests for better cooling. Budget conscious? Look into supports and cushions that attach to your existing desk chair.
Standing desks have become increasingly popular, and can be used in both sitting and standing positions. Benefits include less strain on your back and buttocks as well as an increase in calories burned over the course of the day. If you prefer a traditional desk, no problem, get up and walk throughout the day to gain similar benefits.
Don’t cut corners on your mouse. Years of click-clacking can lead to carpal tunnel, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal maladies. Studies have shown that mice with increased height and angles improve wrist posture and reduce the pain associated with prolonged use.
Ergonomic keyboards come in many shapes and sizes, with some splitting in two to allow a more open typing posture, while others angle their keys, putting less stress on the wrists while typing. Some options even ditch the right-side num pad, reducing the travel needed for your hand to move between the keyboard and mouse.
Lighting has been shown to have drastic effects on a person’s mood, with some color temperatures eliciting hostility, and others calmness. Studies have found that good mood was preserved best under conditions of low illuminance combined with a cool color temperature, as well as conditions of high illuminance combined with a warm color temperature. Think of the fluorescent lighting in many office buildings, now think of the lighting in your favorite restaurant – light color, placement and illuminance are major considerations in your home office.
Consider too how your lighting effects video calls. Light sources placed directly behind you can wash you out. Consider side-lighting, or blinds of different colors and opacities to shift the natural light filling the room. Try out different color temperatures and consider using lamps instead of overhead lighting. Lighting is a personal preference at the end of the day, but home offices allow for control not previously available in a typical office setting.
Smile for the Camera
First impressions matter. These impressions are no less important in a virtual setting, though they may prove more difficult. It is wise to consider the elements that a video call consists of. Major considerations are the camera and voice quality.
Inbuilt laptop webcams and microphones are consistently improving, but are yet to compare to external USB options. It may be wise to add a peripheral plug-in option for your home setup. Those with larger budgets can look into high-definition cameras as well as standalone microphones that will transform your underwater-sounding voice into a professional broadcaster bravado. Hop on a call with a colleague and ask that they send you a recording of the video call to determine how you look and sound to others. Alternatively, online testing tools are available to check mic and camera quality.
While your traditional office may have featured a fake plant and a picture of the SO, you’re now able to think bigger, bolder and brighter with your home office.
Let’s start with your background. Is your bathroom visible behind you? – let’s hope not. In-line with making a first impression, your video call background matters. You have the opportunity to make it your own. From posters to potted plants, use your discretion to decorate. It is suggested that you find a balance between personal and professional. Consider adding conversation starters such as your favorite books on a bookshelf, or photos of your beloved pet(s). Are you not the creative type or do your rambunctious kids have you working out of the basement? No problem – use a virtual background!
Let’s look forward to what’s in front of you. Though your desk area won’t be seen by those on video calls, it will be your view day after day. Personalize your pridelands as you see fit. You may want to place your desk near a window to take in whatever majestic view lies beyond. Natural touches such as house plants have been shown to increase job satisfaction and promote positive mental health. Photos, organizers, docking stations and more can bring your space to life. And don’t turn your nose to crafting the scents that surround you – trade in the smell of microwaved leftovers at the corporate office for an oil diffuser or candle.
Everyone’s work from home setup differs, and that’s a beautiful thing. By adjusting your ergonomics, peripherals, and surroundings to your liking, your space can shine. These changes can be gradual: a house plant here and there, a new camera for your birthday. Dialing in your setup is a process, but one that can be as enjoyable as the end result.