Do you find yourself working from home for the first time? If you are, you’re not alone. According to Statistikmyndigheten, in 2018 only 25 percent of Sweden’s population reported working from home at some point during the year. There are a few things we’ve learned from running a coworking space for over a decade. So to help you design a better home office, here are a few tips.
Have a large work desk with lots of space around you so you don’t feel restricted in your movements. If you have a lot of stuff, you might want to consider arranging everything neatly in a cabinet or shelf. Bright colors, posters, and unnecessary clutter can be a visual distraction and hamper your ability to concentrate on the job at hand. If you have your work desk in an open area and you have other people or pets at home, you might find it easiest to minimize visual distractions by positioning your desk so that it faces a wall. If you have the space to do so, it can work well to have different areas dedicated to specific tasks so you’ll need to get up and move around during the day. In our office we have the printer set up in a separate room to encourage physical movement, and also to minimize noise distractions in the working areas.
Position your work desk in a place where you can maximize your exposure to natural light. This is the best arrangement for your circadian rhythm and will help you to maintain regular sleep patterns. This isn’t always possible so the next best thing is to make sure you have good lighting overhead. Inadequate lighting or fluorescent lighting can make you feel tired and lead to eye strain. Incandescent lighting is recommended however it does use far more energy than LED lighting.
Comfortable office furniture is a must. Although it comes at a price, having an ergonomic chair that you can customize for your own needs and comfort makes a huge difference to your ability to work from home. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, then this is the best change that you can make. The absolute best chair that I’ve personally tested over the years is Soul from SAVO. If you often find yourself hunched over your desk, or prefer to work standing up, then you’ll be far more comfortable with a height-adjustable desk like this one.
Some people work well in silence, but if you have noisy neighbors, live near heavy traffic, like leaving your windows open, or have pets or children; it can help to put on some music. The trick is to choose a soundtrack that isn’t too catchy. Having background music that you don’t recognize can help you to develop your focus and drown out other noises. If you play songs that you know, you can easily become distracted by focusing on the music itself. If this isn’t enough to block out distractions, then I recommend investing in noise-canceling headphones. These are generally designed to sit over your ears so they can be worn comfortably for long periods of time and can block out external sounds even if you don’t play any music at all. They’re also a great tool to have if you need to make video calls at home and you don’t want anyone else to hear at least one side of the conversation. If you live with other people, you might want to discuss dedicating a specific room for people to take phone calls to avoid noise distractions and growing resentment.
Do you have any tips of your own? Send me an email to let me know what you do at home to create a better working environment.
Cathy Xiao Chen is the Head of Operations at Impact Hub Stockholm. With a passion for supporting social impact, she advises and connects changemakers with collaborators to maximize impact.