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Working From Home Series: Creating the perfect home office for any space

In the first of our working from home series, the Architecture Department and our Interior Designer, look at small changes around the home that can help lift the mood, providing a welcome distraction from events going on in the outside world.

With so many of us confined to our homes during COVID-19 lockdown and perhaps with larger households than usual, putting extra strain on our personal spaces, small changes to the way we use our homes could make life a little bit easier. In these times of chaos and uncertainty, being organised and following a routine helps to create calm and peace.

For those of us able to do so, we may have found ourselves working from home for the first time and perhaps when this crisis is over, many of us might continue to do so. After all, we have been told we need to reduce our carbon footprint, so when life returns to some sort of normality, as it will, many of us may continue to work from home and do our bit to help protect our environment.

So, what can we do to set up a home office, whether temporary or something more permanent? There are some important things to consider, so let’s look at them.

  • Choose a space you can call your own to work in. Make sure you have an area that the people around you know will be used solely by you for work and for no other purpose. We don’t all have the luxury of spare rooms to set up temporary offices but an area dedicated to you during your work hours would be the next best thing. Even the most unprepossessing space can be turned into a workspace or use of convertible furniture might be a solution. Some suppliers are still delivering certain items, though choices may be limited for now.

When working from home, your desk set-up should be little different than if you were in an office and the main points to remember are as follows;

  • Your work space includes your equipment so make sure people around you know the equipment is for work and not for their use.
  • Make sure you assemble the right equipment, storage and stationery etc. to carry out your work efficiently. If your desk is against a wall, consider shelving for files etc.
  • Consider comfort with good seating, ideally an adjustable office chair with back support. Make sure your chair is at the right height. Your forearms should be at the same level as the desk. Ensure you are sitting right back into your chair. Your lower back should be supported. If you can’t afford a decent chair, consider an accessory like a lumbar support. Once you’ve adjusted your seat to the correct height, use a footrest if (and only if) your feet are dangling. To protect your floor, include a floor protector.
  • Make sure your screen is an arm’s length from you and that the top of your monitor is at eye level. Use monitor blocks or books to raise your screen to the right height.
  • If you’re using a laptop, use an external keyboard and mouse. This prevents putting tension on the shoulders through excessive reaching and avoids putting undue pressure on your wrists. You should also use a laptop stand to put the screen into a higher position to avoid strain on the neck. If possible and dependent on space available, consider using an additional monitor as a support screen.
  • Carefully consider lighting to limit eye strain. Ensure your screen faces away from windows that might create glare. Allow for task lighting and general lighting but be careful not to sit in a shadow.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets or gang plugs. Connect computer equipment to surge protected supplies.
  • Keep your desk tidy to work most efficiently and prevent wasting time looking for paperwork etc.

So, if you need assistance or advice on how to set up your home office, whether a temporary solution or a permanent fixture, contact the Architecture Department at Z group to discuss your project.

Sylvie Caldow, Consultant Interior Design for Z group

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