„There’s room even in the smallest cottage.“ Friedrich Schiller, who coined this phrase, probably didn’t work at the home office, but his insight still helps us when working from home. Even if the circumstances at your home are less than ideal (i.e. no separate room), you can still find a way to design a healthy workplace. The following three factors should be taken into account in particular: privacy, ergonomics, light.
HOW IT’S DONE
Privacy: You can create privacy by physically separating yourself from the rest of the family or by using helpful gadgets such as earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Anything that distracts you should be removed. Is there perhaps a corner in the hallway or bedroom that you can turn into your office? If not, can you visually separate an area in another room? Perhaps a piece of string that you place over part of the table and floor in the dining room is enough to rope off the „disturbance-free zone“. After you’re done working, this area can be “reopened” by simply removing the string. Also make sure that you enjoy spending time in your work area. See hack #37.
Ergonomics: The look and seating comfort of the chair you use for work is one thing – but the correct height is also crucial. This is where the 90/90 rule applies: with an upright seat, feet placed side by side and forearms resting loosely on the tabletop, both your knees and elbows should be at 90-degree angles.
However, sitting still all day is not the point. Intervertebral discs need movement to stay healthy. Thus, you should change your sitting position from time to time and get up and walk a few steps regularly.
Light: The ideal lighting is of course bright daylight, which is not reflected by the screen. Light reflections are not only annoying, they also tire your eyes more quickly. If the light falls onto the screen from the side there will be fewer reflections.
A common mistake is not to switch on the light in the room when it gets darker outside, because the monitor is perceived as bright enough. However, this is very exhausting for your eyes and you will get tired faster. If you don’t already have several light sources at your workplace, you should check if you can get a desk lamp or a floor lamp. This enables you to work without reflections on your screen and to protect your eyes. One important reminder: don’t forget to blink.
Do not underestimate the effects of an unhealthy workplace! Sitting at the kitchen table with your notebook for a few hours might be alright as an exception to the rule, but generally, you should not spend entire working days there. You are not doing yourself and your back any favors. Put some energy and thought into designing your workplace and find the best possible solution.