For many, working from home is the new normal. So, creating a space that promotes productivity and wellbeing is key. We asked ULaw’s Human Resources Director, Katy Camidge, to share her top-tips for making your environment work for you.
You’ll be spending a large portion of the day sitting, so ensuring this is safe and comfortable is vital. Try out a selection of chairs in your local office outlet or order something adjustable online. You may be surprised at how impressive an adjustable chair can be. Most have levers to change height and the angle of the back area. Look for something with good padding.
When at a computer for long periods, you need to make sure that you’re using your equipment and sitting in a way that minimises risk to your arms, back, hands, shoulders or neck. You can research this by doing a DSE workstation assessment
- take regular screen breaks to relax your mind and vision
- adjust your chair height to fit your workstation
You also need to be sure that your chosen area is big enough for you to work comfortably with the equipment you need. Allow yourself space to spread your wings, whether that means a designated spot for your favourite mug or ring-binders or a cluster of inspiring photos.
Appropriate stationery can also make a real difference to your workspace. Use folders and document wallets to stop the spread of paperwork and a work-planner can help cut down clutter and focus your attention. Believe it or not, finding the right item of stationery for a purpose can be quite fun. Give your space a work-flow system and stick to it.
Losing work or struggling to join an online meeting because your connectivity has dropped, can make you want to scream. To avoid this as much as possible, make sure your home office set-up is in an area with a secure Wi-Fi connection or in an area where you can hardwire your setup if necessary. You can check the internet speed in your chosen area with websites or apps such as Speedtest.
It is important to separate the personal and professional areas in your home. Try not to have your work in the same room in which you sleep and relax. This will help you unwind during your downtime and increase productivity during work hours. If you are isolating, this can also help to minimise distractions from other people in the home.
Working in natural light is best for your eye health and your attention span. Where you can, work at a desk close to glass doors or in front of a window; you’ll undoubtedly feel the difference.
Where natural light isn’t possible, or if you need to work during darker hours, you’ll need to invest in additional lighting. Household lighting generally concentrates on the centre of the room but most home offices will be set up against a wall. Make sure you have lamp close by to cut down on eyestrain. As well as this, you can also add dimmers and blue screen filters to your PC, laptop or smartphone to cut down on light that can harm your sleep patterns.
Personalise your space
Although you don’t want a cluttered workspace, a touch of personalisation can help to make you more settled. Plants are a perfect addition to a workspace. Pothos, aloe and jade plants are an ideal choice as they remove toxins from the air, are easy to care for and thrive in lower light situations.
Another popular choice is to hang some art close to where you work. Whether that involves inspirational quotes, beautiful scenes, or something completely abstract, if it helps you feel more comfortable, it’s a worthy addition to your workstation.
Pictures of friends and family can also make a fun addition but make sure multiple pictures don’t begin to clutter your space.
Check behind you
With more meetings taking place online than ever before, we’re all getting an insight into each other’s homes. This can be great fun…until you realise your laptop’s faces the bottom of the stairs and your partner has just wandered down in their dressing-gown mid meeting. It’s also time to move your favourite ‘night out’ photo. Check what’s behind you and make sure people that are sharing your space can work around you and that you aren’t accidentally sharing something you shouldn't be.
Children and animals
It may seem obvious, but keeping loved ones and pets occupied while you work/study can take preparation. What activities or challenges can you set for the times when you are focussing? Are there designated play areas that are just far away enough not to distract and close enough to allow supervision? Consider how sound travels in your home and which rooms/areas are the most protected from inside and outside noise.
Be kind to yourself
Working in your own environment can present a host of temptations, from regular tea breaks to staring out of the window and dancing to your favourite tunes. This is not always a bad thing as our bodies and minds need a variety of tasks to stay healthy. Be kind to yourself if you do not reach the end of your day’s ‘to-do’ list and make sure that you ‘swallow that frog’ first thing the following morning.
Connect with people
Move outside of your own personal space and interact with others in your family or community – these relationships will provide perspective and the motivation for you to keep up the good work.
Interested in studying law, business, politics or policing from home? Visit ULaw’s Online Campus page: www.law.ac.uk/locations/online