Tips: How to set up your home office
If you live alone, you can sprawl your work across the dining room table or your living room, and nobody will mess with your stuff.
If you have roommates, family, pets or kids, however, finding a good place to work can be complicated — especially if you have an open floor plan, which can get noisy, crowded and offer little privacy.
But if you can find a good spot and invest in some ergonomic furniture, working from home can allow you to be even more productive than at the office.
After all, your commute is a lot shorter.
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Based on interviews and online research, here are some tips for setting up your home workspace.
Look for a spot that’s free of distractions and feels like you’re going to the office.
It doesn’t have to be a room with a door, said John Dutton, a Los Angeles architect and USC adjunct professor of architecture. It could be a nook or a space under the stairs that can be sectioned off.
“It’s important to separate your home life from your work to stay focused and set boundaries,” said Phil Cerrone, a general manager of office for Wayfair Professional.
Invest in an ergonomic desk and chair.
The position of your monitor and keyboard are crucial to avoid repetitive stress injury that makes your fingers burn, constricts your arms like a coiling snake and slams the neck, back and shoulders like a rear-end whiplash.
If your monitor is too low, get a stand — or even a stack of books — to raise it up.
“It’s important that the top edge of your laptop or monitor screen is aligned with your eyes to keep yourself from hunching over,” Cerrone said. He also suggested getting an adjustable standing desk to keep you from sitting all day.
Ideally, the desk will have a keyboard tray, be adjustable or be low enough so you’re typing at the right level. If you’re using a laptop, plug in an external keyboard (one that won’t hurt your hands) so your monitor and keypad are positioned correctly.
You need to adjust the height of your chair so your hands hover just above the keyboard and your wrists are straight.
The cost of all this gear may hurt — but it’s far less painful than carpal tunnel surgery.
Adequate light is a must, and if possible, natural light is even better, said Janice Spousta, Lennar’s Western regional vice president of marketing and merchandising.
If your room is windowless, hang a pretty picture in your workspace, suggests the HGTV website. And make sure there’s no glare on your monitor screen.
4. Power up
You need a lot of plugs for your computer, monitor, printer and personal devices. If you can hire an electrician to install more outlets, great. If not, consult an expert to make sure you’re not creating a fire hazard.
To avoid clutter, buy cord winders, tubing, or an organizer to “tame the cord jungle,” HGTV.com says.
5. Stay connected
Good WiFi is a must, especially if you’re sharing your home with other telecommuters and students attending virtual school. If need be, call your wireless provider — repeatedly — to make sure you have a reliable connection.
6. Zoom ready
Make sure the background behind you will look professional and attractive for virtual meetings, advised Mike Cassidy, general manager of California Closets’ Huntington Beach office. Eliminate distracting items like whirling ceiling fans or wires snaking down the wall.
7. Personalize it
Take time to make sure your space is about you and what you do, said Spousta. Put up a bulletin board. Include your kids’ photos. Add some greenery, knickknacks, art or anything that inspires you.
8. Dress for work
It doesn’t have to be as formal as going to the office, but you want to replicate the feeling of going to work. Shave, shower, put on makeup — whatever puts you in that on-the-job mindset.
Sources: Phil Cerrone, Wayfair; Mike Cassidy, California Closets; Janice Spousta, Lennar; HGTV.com; inc.com.
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