For those of us working from home these days, there’s no telling when (or if) we’ll return to a central office. In the meantime, office workers around the world are making do with whatever space they have, whether it’s a spare bedroom, a corner nook or a converted garage. For many of us, the home office still seems temporary, causing us to feel distracted and unsettled.
Without a more permanent feeling set-up, our productivity, health and well-being could be suffering. That’s why, nearly one year after the pandemic sent us all home, it’s a good time to re-evaluate your work-from-home situation and make some necessary adjustments. It’s time for the home office 2.0—the next evolution in a professional and comfortable home office space.
The new home office transcends working at the dining room table or other interim location. It establishes a permanent, long-term space where you feel less at home, and that’s a good thing. The division between work and home is vital for our mental health during these times. If your workspace tends to bleed into your relaxation area, your mind no longer knows where to draw the line, causing your brain to associate your home with work and vice versa.
When it comes to creating your home office 2.0, the goal is to move away from a makeshift solution to a permanent and proper home office—at least as best as possible. In this guide to the new home office, we’ll offer some ideas for how to reimagine your workspace so that it’s a healthier and more productive environment. These five home office 2.0 essentials will help you carve out a designated workspace in your home and design it to promote better physical and mental well-being.
1. A Designated (and Divided) Space
When approaching a redesign of your home office, the first challenge to solve is the workspace itself. Even in larger homes, families are feeling limited these days in the amount of space that’s available. Parents are sharing workstations with their kids, spouses are scheduling shared home office time, and everyone is trying their best to respect each other’s privacy.
Though space is in short supply, everyone needs their own designated work spot. Each solution will be unique to the given home. Many people have effortlessly turned a guest room into an actual home office, while others have resourcefully converted patios or sheds into their workspaces. The important thing is not the type of space, but the ability to cordon it off and designate it as office-use only.
The key to choosing the right space for your home office 2.0 is to physically and mentally separate it from other areas reserved for cooking, eating, relaxing or sleeping. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to put up dividers to section off your workspace. There are many creative options available, and fellow home-office workers have shared some clever room divider ideas. For example, try using a tall bookcase, a sofa or another piece of furniture to split one room into two.
2. Natural Light
When vetting home office locations, choose an area that gets natural light and orient your desk toward it. Compared to artificial light, natural light is better for your eyes, especially while staring at a screen. Working under natural light helps prevent tension headaches, eyestrain and vision issues from prolonged artificial light exposure.
Natural light is also better for virtual meetings with co-workers and customers. To give off the best impression possible, ensure your home office lighting is warm and inviting. Additionally, we all tend to look our best under soft, natural light, as artificial light, especially from CFL bulbs, tends to be harsh and unflattering.
If you live in a bright, sunny region, make sure to add a shade to your office window to ease the intensity (and heat) from the sun. If achieving direct natural light isn’t possible, replace your overhead and lamp bulbs with LEDs from the warmer end of the light spectrum. You can also switch out your existing bulbs for smart ones, like the Philips Hue smart light. These Bluetooth-connected bulbs allow you to adjust and customize your lighting levels throughout the day.
To further improve your home office lighting, try to prevent lamps from shining directly onto your computer screen. Instead, choose a lamp that evenly distributes light. The Humanscale Element Disc Light is an LED desk lamp designed to cast a wide light footprint to maximize light dispersion. It’s also designed with a smart dimmer that automatically adjusts to the right lighting level for ergonomics and energy-efficiency.
3. A Proper Desk
Revamping your home office means no longer working from the couch, dining table or kitchen bar. Instead, use a desk, table or even a wall-mounted surface that’s specifically for your work. Make sure to choose one that you feel comfortable at, is the right height for your body (28-30 inches high) and offers enough space for your keyboard, mouse, monitors, notebooks and other paperwork (at least 20 inches deep).
Many people are switching from a conventional desk to an adjustable standing desk as they try to create a healthier work-from-home environment. While office work pre-pandemic was notoriously sedentary, working from home is possibly even less active now that we no longer commute. An adjustable desk is one way to incorporate more movement into the home office lifestyle.
For a sleek, space-saving option, try the Humanscale Ergonomic Floating Desk. With the press of a lever, you can easily adjust your surface height anywhere between 27 and 47 inches to find the most comfortable working position for you. An alternative to a standing desk is to use a standing desk converter, like the X-FlexTop. Turn any work surface into an adjustable standing desk with this collapsible, portable desk riser.
4. Correct Ergonomics
Setting up your home office to address basic ergonomic principles is essential to your health. Injuries due to improper ergonomics, such as neck and low back pain, are all too common among desk workers. Ergonomics is also a matter of productivity. A desk set-up that’s tailored to your unique body proportions will be more comfortable and efficient, meaning you’ll be more focused on your work. All of these benefits also help to improve your overall mood and job satisfaction.
As you upgrade your home office to its next version, consider the workstation accessories that will address your posture habits. If you tend to slouch forward, you may benefit from a chair with proper lumbar support. Chairs that provide adequate low back cushioning encourage better upright posture. Not only does this alleviate low back tension, but it also prevents neck and shoulder strain.
Other ergonomic accessories to consider include a keyboard tray, and an adjustable monitor arm. If you’re using a standing desk, try a wellness mat to reduce body fatigue and promote better posture while standing.
5. Comfort and Personalization
Finally, it’s important for your home office to feel like an office by adding personal touches like decor, framed photos, artwork and more. Don’t forget to add a plant or two to bring some life to your work and inspire creativity. You can also freshen your workspace with an air purifier to reduce allergens and eliminate odors. Aromatherapy diffusers can energize your space with essentials oils like citrus or eucalyptus that help reduce stress and improve focus.
For additional comfort, consider creating a relaxation nook in a corner of your office by adding a massage chair or zero-gravity recliner. The Perfect Chair from Human Touch is the ideal home office recliner, designed to support you in a neutral, ergonomic position. It can also accommodate a convenient t that’s adjustable to your recline position. Whether you need a quick mediation break or you want to spend some time answering emails, The Perfect Chair recliner provides you with a retreat for a mid-day recharge.
Find Everything You Need for Your Upgraded Home Office at Relax The Back
Take work-from-home to the next level and invest in your home office 2.0. Relax The Back has everything you need to create your ideal at-home workspace. From ergonomic office furniture and workstation accessories to the perfect office recliner, you can customize your home office so that it’s a healthy space for productivity and creativity.