• 5 min read
7 Basics for a Healthier, High-Performing Home Office
Support all aspects of your well-being
Being jolted into working from home has been a shift for some and, well, an all-out-seriously challenging experience for others. Yet, according to the latest research noted in a 2020 Gensler survey, 56% of us still want to work from home at least one day each week.
So, how can you create a home office that supports you and the work you do for a healthier, more comfortable work experience?
Consider your home office space using an approach that’s similar to the way an organization looks at its work environment. In other words, you want to create a workspace that helps you perform your best by supporting all aspects of your well-being: physical, emotional, and cognitive.
Well-being is an interconnected system. Sitting on that hard dining room chair, for example, not only takes a toll on your physical body, but also impacts cognition and emotions—both of which lead to the inability to focus and less than optimal effectiveness.
However, you can create a high-performing, healthier home office—regardless of the space you have available. Here's a checklist of seven basics that will help:
1. Ergonomic Seating
Every body is different. And everybody benefits from a chair that supports their individual needs. Good ergonomic seating enables concentration and minimizes distractions that stem from being uncomfortable.
The human spine is made up of 24 vertebrae that form an S-shape when viewed from the side. But just like fingerprints, the shape, or curvature, of each person’s spine is unique. The key is to choose a chair with adjustability features designed to help a wide range of people personalize their sitting experience. This will help you support your own unique needs for the various activities you do throughout the da
Choose a chair that offers:
- Lumbar (lower back) support with at least one axis of adjustment
- Vertically adjustable armrests with padding
- Synchronous recline (the back and seat move in tandem when leaning back) with tension adjustment and a back lock/back stop setting
- 2-inch seat depth adjustment
- 5-inch height adjustment
2. A Desk That Allows Movement
The relationship between you, your chair, and your desk forms the foundational trifecta of a home office space. Ultimately, look for a solution that allows you to change positions from sitting to standing throughout the day.
Research from the Utah School of Medicine found that moving just two minutes every hour can decrease premature death risk by as much as 33%. With that in mind, if a height-adjustable worksurface just isn't available to you, consider other strategies for creating active home office work habits.
Look for a desk or table that provides:
- Freedom of lower-body movement while sitting
- Enough surface to center your keyboard in front of your torso and position your mouse directly alongside
- Comfortable edges for your forearms and wrists
3. A Monitor Arm or Second Monitor
Many people working from home are using laptops, which really weren't designed for long-term use. If the keyboard is in the correct ergonomic position for the user, the laptop's attached monitor is not. Take a healthier approach by using a second monitor positioned within arms’-length and in a direct view as you face forward. Ideally, when sitting at your desk, the first line of type on your monitor should be slightly below your eye level. Your neck will thank you.
Additionally, using an adaptable monitor arm attached to your desk allows you to change the position of your monitor, so that it’s always in the right spot as you move.
4. The Right Lighting
"Light has an enormous effect on our physical and mental well-being," noted Stanley Felderman of Felderman Keatinge & Associates, a design studio he runs with Nancy Keatinge. The duo believes that it's in our DNA to perform better under specific lighting. To translate their principles to home office design, try to position your workspace near a window or place where you can benefit from natural light, which has been shown to improve mood, energy, alertness, and productivity. Add ambient lighting to create a sense of depth and provide a comfortable level of illumination without glare.
5. Storage Solution
Even with the onslaught of paperless offices and digital technologies, you may need paper documents and a place to store work-related items. Consider space-saving storage that can house cords, as well as and other office tools and accessories. Having a place to store away work at the end of the day helps with the process of shutting down and closing the time dedicated to work.
6. Element to Indicate Privacy/Focus Time
Many of us don't have the luxury of a dedicated room in our home for work. Even if we follow all of the first five items on our checklist and set up a great ergonomic chair with a height-adjustable desk and a small storage unit near a window in the living room, there's still a need to let housemates know when you need to focus. Use a calendar to make your schedule visible to others and/or post a sign or other visual cue to indicate when you want focus time. And of course, be sure to communicate the meaning of these signal items to everyone in the household.
7. Things That Spark Joy
One enjoyable thing that has come from so many people working from home is that we’ve been learning a lot about one another as we connect in new ways. Through video calls and virtual meetings, we often get a glimpse into people’s homes and see a more personal side of one another. Purposefully incorporating some fun, items that spark joy in your home office can prompt great conversations and mental breaks from work.
Consider adding various things that stimulate your senses:
Artwork, photography, and/or photos of loved ones
Scents and fragrances
Awards or other sources of pride (Who knows, maybe one of your colleagues shares your passion!)
Establishing a healthier home office—and using it to your advantage—can serve your physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. With all the checklist items in place, remember to also take breaks and move around during your workday—even if you have to schedule lunch each day, walk during a conference call, or exercise at your desk.