In the aftermath of the pandemic, the temporary WFH situation is becoming permanent for many. Here’s how to turn your WFH office into a remote work office.
It’s hardly new for people to work from home. Yet with the spread of COVID-19, the work-from-home mentality grew around the globe. Swiftly becoming a requirement for many, most office-based workers found it an unplanned and haphazard necessity over the last 12 months.
But with the arrival of the vaccine, many countries are beginning to see a return to the office on the horizon. For many workers, there’s now a reluctance to return to the norm. They’ve discovered the superlative joy of not having to spend hours a day commuting. And it’s not just more convenient – remote workers also report higher productivity due to the elimination of in-person distractions.
Employers too are seeing the benefits of downscaling previously cavernous—and costly—office buildings.
Despite the rise in popularity of remote working, many people are using makeshift, hastily thrown-together offices borne out of the pandemic. As a stopgap, they were fit for purpose. As a long-term solution, they’re preventing people from truly achieving their full remote potential.
Having the right equipment is an obvious necessity, but don’t underestimate the value of an ergonomically designed workspace. This is critical to avoiding the perils of repetitive strain injuries that can easily result from a poor setup.
For employers, ensuring their workers have a space that won’t result in injury is essential. From the employee’s perspective, it makes sense to create a workspace that’s as comfortable as possible when you’re going to be spending so much time in it.
How to Set Up a Remote Office
In an ideal world, a long-term home office should occupy a separate space designated and properly equipped for daily work. Here’s how to turn your work-from-home office into a remote working space that’s user-friendly and built for ongoing comfort and success.
Choose a Dedicated Remote Work Office Space
It’s time to kiss the couch goodbye. The ideal space for your new home office is a small room, large enough for a desk, chair, and computer equipment. It should also have a door that shuts all the way so you can effectively separate your work life from your home life.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of dedicated office space at home. Yet, it’s easy to convert an existing guest bedroom to serve a dual purpose. By day, it's your space to work and by night, it's a bedroom with a convenient pull-out bed for guests.
If you don’t have a spare room, consider whether a laundry room, enclosed porch, or even a garden shed could be converted into your new remote working space.
Should it prove completely impossible to find a dedicated room, consider whether a nearby friend or family member may have a space that could accommodate you.
The main thing is to find a space free from interruption and interference. After all, your work deserves full focus.
Optimize Your Desk Height
You need a table or desk that’s at working height. Where work surfaces are concerned, the industry-standard height is 29 inches off the floor. If you’re tall, you may need a higher surface, while shorter people benefit from a lower height. A lot of desks are adjustable to help you optimize the height for your comfort. Also consider purchasing a stand to raise your monitor to eye level, avoiding neck strain.
When it comes to your computer, ensure you have ample viewing equipment. A large monitor of at least 25 inches is ideal to avoid eyestrain. You may want twin monitors if you work on projects that require working on one thing while viewing another. Coders, for example, find this setup ideal, as do many writers. A high-quality display is also important to avoid eyestrain, which is somewhat inevitable if you’re staring at a screen for several hours a day.
Proper Office Chair
Bad chairs are a nightmare when you're sitting for several hours a day. Your dining chairs and deck chairs are probably very comfortable for an hour or two. Six hours in, however, and you’ll long for something with ample padding and proper lumbar support. Standard chairs seldom have the right height, and frequently discourage a fully upright posture.
When choosing a new office chair, find one with an adjustable height that offers support for your lower back. It should also give you the option to adjust the height and lateral position of the arms, as well as the tilt and pan of the seat.
Other Remote Workplace Equipment
Of course, you’ll also need the requisite keyboard, mouse (or touchpad), and speakers. Make sure you select devices that are flexible. A docking station is incredibly useful, while a headset is essential, especially if you’re joining group calls and video meetings and you’re in a shared space. Wireless options offer you greater flexibility, particularly with your keyboard and mouse.
Remember that you need enough support for your wrists and arms while operating everything. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse is a sound investment if you’re looking for the most comfort.
Lighting a Remote Work Environment
Finding the right lighting is equally important for your remote working environment. If your space has good natural light, you may only need to position your desk and chair in the optimal place. However, if you’re lacking in natural light, or your job requires you to work hours that don't have the benefit of sunlight, you’ll need improved lighting for your space.
You’d be forgiven for underestimating how much light affects your work. Direct light is very distracting and can lead to eyestrain and headaches.
Create sufficient indirect lighting either through artificial overhead lights or natural light diffused by blinds.
Reliable Internet Service
As a remote worker, you must stay connected online, and a reliable and fast connection is essential. You’ll also need to have access to all the cloud-based systems required to complete your work. Slow service and frequent downtime aren’t options when it comes to maintaining productivity.
Having an effective backup system in place, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot on your phone, is a smart idea. This gives you peace of mind and ensures you can continue working in the event something unavoidable interrupts your internet service.