Things you need to know to set up the best home workstation that suits you

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Rachita Jain

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Remote work has become standard for many organizations and employees due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With technological advancements and the rise of virtual communication tools, remote work has become a feasible and effective alternative to traditional office-based work.
Working from home has allowed employees more flexibility and autonomy in their work schedules while reducing the need for commuting and the associated costs. It has also enabled organizations to expand their talent pool beyond geographical boundaries and access a broader range of skilled workers.
However, remote work also has its challenges, such as:
  • Maintaining work-life balance
  • Ignorance of mental and physical health
  • Building of poor body structure
  • Increased distractions and much more
Working from home is now a necessity for many employees and organizations. Hence, the need for setting up a work-from-home workstation is crucial after the Covid-19 pandemic. The following are some reasons why setting up a home office workstation is essential:
  1. Comfort and Ergonomics:
Prolonged sitting in an uncomfortable posture can lead to physical strain, eye strain, and neck and back pain. Setting up a comfortable home office workstation can help reduce these risks.
  1. Productivity:
A comfortable and organized home workstation can increase focus and productivity. This enables employees to work efficiently from home.
  1. Mental Health:
A well-designed home workstation can positively impact mental health and reduce stress levels. This helps employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  1. Professionalism:
A professional home workstation setup can help maintain a work-like atmosphere. It leads to improved work ethics and better work output.
Therefore, you need to invest in home workstation setups and build creative workstation ideas to reap the benefits of remote work.

Types of workstation

Several types of home workstations can be used for remote work:
Home office workstation: A home workstation set up in a dedicated room or area in the home, designed for the sole purpose of work.
Portable workstation: A workstation can be easily transported and set up in different locations, such as a laptop or tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
Co-working space workstation: A workstation set up in a shared office space provides employees with a professional work environment and the opportunity to collaborate.
Mobile workstation: A workstation set up in a vehicle or on the go, designed for employees who need to work while traveling or in transit.
Ergonomic workstation: A home office workstation designed to minimize the risk of physical strain, eye strain, and repetitive strain injuries by using ergonomic accessories, such as a wrist rest, mouse pad, and adjustable chair.
Sitting workstation: A workstation where the employee sits in a chair to perform their work tasks.
Standing workstation: A workstation where the employee stands or has the option to stand while performing their work tasks.
Both sitting and standing home workstation setup have their benefits and drawbacks. Sitting for long periods can lead to physical strain, whereas standing for extended periods can lead to fatigue and discomfort. Alternating between sitting and standing can help reduce the risk of physical tension and improve posture.
Ergonomic home workstation setup, in particular, can be designed to facilitate the switch between sitting and standing postures. Many home workstation setups now come with adjustable height desks that can be easily converted from sitting to standing, allowing employees to choose the best posture for them.

What do you need to get started?

To set up a home workstation, you typically need:

  1. A desk or table to work on
  1. An ergonomic chair for comfortable seating
  1. A computer or laptop with sufficient processing power and memory
  1. A reliable internet connection
  1. A monitor or laptop stand to adjust the height of your screen
  1. A keyboard and mouse or other input devices
  1. Proper lighting to reduce eye strain
  1. Adequate ventilation and air circulation
  1. Storage solutions for files and paperwork
  1. Any necessary peripherals, such as a printer, scanner, or webcam

Other things to consider related to your environment:

  • Is there enough light? You can avoid eye fatigue by making sure the lighting is bright enough to read and operate without effort.
  • Do you have access to light from the sun? There is evidence that natural light improves mood and well-being. Work near a window and take brief breaks outside to increase your exposure to natural light.
  • Is it adequately ventilated there? Open a window where you can, even if it's just a crack, or get in a fan to circulate the air to avoid feeling fatigued and having headaches in a stuffy environment.
  • The ideal temperature for the most productivity is typically thought to be 21-22 degrees Celsius (70-72 degrees Fahrenheit), so check your room's temperature and try to maintain it at that level.

Things to keep your home workstation decluttered:

  • A clock or other means of timing for yourself to help you stay on target.
  • Materials and stationery like pencils, highlighters, notepads, diaries, and calculators.
  • Items you don't need immediately but need to have nearby can be kept in a convenient drawer or cabinet shelf.
  • Papers and reference materials can be kept organized using folders, files, and a document tray.
  • Lifting reference material from the desk surface could be made easier using a board with pins, magnets, or reusable putty.
  • You can quickly remove trash from your area if there is a waste basket nearby.

Talk about how these affect the choices:

1. Remote work equipment you use

The position of the remote work equipment you use in your home workstation can significantly impact your physical and mental well-being. Here are some examples:
1. Chair and desk height:
  • If your chair and desk are not at the right height, you may experience discomfort, back pain, or neck pain. Your chair should be adjusted, so your feet are flat on the floor, and your desk should be at elbow height.
  • A small cushion or towel rolled up might be placed at the base of your back if you require more excellent lumbar support—support for your lower back. Your back will be encouraged to keep its natural curve as a result. Also, pick a chair high enough for your elbows to rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle.
2. Monitor position:
Your monitor should be at a comfortable distance from your eyes, with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. If your monitor is too close or too far away, you may experience eye strain or headaches.
3. Keyboard and mouse placement:
  • You may reduce the stress on your hands and wrists by keeping your hands in a neutral position, just like you can with your head and neck. Your mouse and keyboard should be within easy reach so that you can maintain your forearm and hands straight. You might need to stoop to reach your keyboard or mouse if it's too far away. Your hands won't be level with your wrist and forearm if it's too close.
  • Depending on your tasks, you might need to modify your positioning if you're using a laptop rather than a computer display and keyboard. Ensure the laptop is raised to your eye level and the screen is angled down to prioritize your head position if you read a lot on the screen. On the other hand, if you type a lot, bring the keyboard close to you to improve the position of your shoulders and arms. The laptop screen can be tilted whatever you need to view it.
Overall, the position of your remote work equipment can significantly impact your comfort, productivity, and physical health. It's essential to set up your home workstation in a way that promotes good posture, reduces strain, and helps you feel comfortable and focused throughout the day.

2. Free space available

  1. Physical comfort: A cluttered home workstation can make it challenging to move around and adjust your posture, leading to discomfort or even pain. Having enough space to move around and adjust your chair, desk, and remote work equipment can help you feel more comfortable and prevent strain.
  1. Productivity: A messy or crowded work-from-home office setup can be distracting, which can make it difficult to focus on your work. Having adequate space to organize your materials and keep your work area clean can help you stay focused and productive.
  1. Mental health: A cluttered or disorganized workspace can cause stress and anxiety, impacting your mental health. Having enough space to organize your materials and keep your workspace tidy can help you feel calmer and more relaxed while you work.

3. The functionality of your work

The functionality of your work can impact your home workstation in several ways. Here are a few examples:
  1. Equipment needs: Depending on your work type, you may need specific remote work equipment or tools to perform your job effectively. For example, if you work with video or graphics, you may need a larger monitor or specialized software. Ensure your home workstation is set up to accommodate any necessary equipment or tools.
  1. Space requirements: Some types of work may require more space or a specific layout to be performed effectively. For example, if you work with large documents or blueprints, you may need a larger desk or a different design to accommodate your work. Make sure your home workstation has enough space to meet your work requirements.
  1. Storage needs: Depending on the type of work you do, you may need to store physical files, remote work equipment, or supplies. Ensure your home workstation has adequate storage solutions to keep your materials organized and accessible.
  1. Noise levels: Depending on the nature of your work, you may need a quiet or low-noise environment to be productive. Consider your work requirements when selecting a location for your home workstation, and ensure the space is quiet enough to meet your needs.

4. In case of frequent video calls:

If you sit down to frequent video calls, you should think about both the view behind you and what others will be looking at while you sit down in a video meeting. Avoid having windows or other bright backgrounds obstructing your picture; choose simple, unobtrusive objects like a plant or a framed piece of art.
Overall, the functionality of your work can impact the setup and requirements of your home workstation. By considering your work needs and selecting a work-from-home office setup that accommodates those needs, you can create a comfortable and functional workspace that supports your productivity and success.

5. Amount of sunlight/natural light

Mood and mental health: Exposure to natural light boosts mood, reduces stress, and improves overall mental health. Working in a space with adequate natural light can help you feel happier, more optimistic, energized, and focused.
Eye strain and fatigue: Insufficient lighting or glare can cause eye strain, headaches, and fatigue, which can impact your productivity and comfort. Having adequate natural light can reduce the risk of eye strain and fatigue and help you feel more comfortable while you work.
Sleep quality: Exposure to natural light during the day helps you regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle and improve your sleep quality. Working in a space with adequate natural light can help you feel more alert during the day and sleep better at night.
Productivity: Natural light has been shown to increase productivity and cognitive function, which can help you be more efficient and effective in your work.
Overall, the amount of natural light in your home workstation can significantly impact your physical and mental well-being, as well as your productivity and performance. Whenever possible, it's a good idea to set up your workspace in a location that receives adequate natural light or to use artificial lighting that mimics natural light.

6. Visual elements/aesthetics

  1. Creativity: Aesthetically pleasing surroundings can stimulate creativity and inspire new ideas. When your work-from-home office setup is visually exciting and engaging, you are more likely to think and imagine out of the box and come up with some innovative solutions.
  1. Clutter: Cluttered or disorganized workspaces can be distracting and overwhelming. Creating a work-from-home office setup that is visually pleasing and well-organized can help reduce clutter and make it easier to focus on your work.
  1. Plants and greenery: Adding plants to your workspace purifies the air, reduces stress, and creates a more calming and visually appealing environment.
  1. Personal touches: Adding personal touches to your work-from-home office setup can help make it feel more comfortable and reflect your unique style. This might include artwork, photographs, or other decorative items that inspire and motivate you.
  1. Color scheme: Choose a color scheme that is visually pleasing and reflects your style. Consider using colors that promote calmness and focus, such as blues, greens, and neutral tones. By creating a comfortable, well-lit, and reflective work-from-home office setup that reflects your style, you can promote productivity, creativity, and overall well-being.

7. Distractions at home

Building a home workstation that avoids distractions requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Choose a quiet location: Select a spot in your home that is away from noisy areas, such as high-traffic areas, television sets, or areas where other family members or roommates tend to congregate. This will help minimize distractions and enable you to focus on your work.
  1. Set boundaries: Communicate with family members or roommates about your need for quiet and uninterrupted work time. Establish clear boundaries and let others know when you need privacy and focus.
  1. Minimize visual distractions: Choose a location with minimal visual distractions, such as a room with a door that can be closed or a space with a neutral color palette and simple decor. This can help reduce visual distractions and keep you focused on your work.
  1. Manage digital distractions: Turn off notifications on your phone or computer, and use tools such as website blockers or productivity apps to minimize digital distractions. It helps you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by social media or other online distractions.
  1. Use noise-canceling headphones: Consider using noise-canceling headphones to help block out ambient noise and stay focused on your work.

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