For the best work-from-home experience, concentrate on three areas: workstation, lighting and movement.
There are a lot of perks to working from home, but one of the drawbacks is finding the room, especially for people living in small spaces.
Telecommuting is becoming a bigger part of life, with about 20–25 percent of workers telecommuting in some way, according to 2016 data from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.
For the best work-from-home experience, experts say, concentrate on three areas: workstation, lighting and movement.
A lot goes into an office workstation — a desk, keyboard, monitor, phone, chairs. But working at home may mean getting down to basics. Many people commandeer the kitchen table or sit on the couch — not ideal options.
If telecommuters are thinking of making one investment, make it a comfortable chair, as sitting on a kitchen stool will eventually hurt. Valentina Sendin, ergonomic program manager at Kaiser Permanente, says the most comfortable chair is an adjustable one.
Seats should be movable, she says, and advises shoppers to look at where the lumbar support is. Consider if the back height is comfortable.
Don’t just purchase a chair online that says “ergonomic” — because it might not fit right, Sendin says. “You really want to sit in the chair and makes sure it fits you,” she says.
And comfortable chairs can be stylish. Consider the Turnstone Shortcut Chair (starting at $260 at store.steelcase.com) or the Modway Pillow High-Back Desk Chair ($247 at wayfair.com) for options that are supportive and good looking.
Variable desks are popular for at-home workers because they allow you to sit or stand. One example is the Ergotron WorkFit-T ($384 at amazon.com).
Christy Hopkins, a writer for small-business advice site FitSmallBusiness.com and a telecommuter, says the standing laptop desk she uses is slim enough to be folded up after work, similar to the Zingz & Thingz Adjustable Laptop Stand ($34 at wayfair.com).
Sendin says people who don’t want to invest in a variable desk can use an ironing board as a desktop since it can be moved up and down, and it can be put away after work is done.
Poor lighting can lead to eye strain, and overhead fluorescent lights can be harsh on the eyes, Sendin says. So telecommuters should consider a good lamp with softer yellow tones.
An adjustable lamp, like the Ikea Tived LED Work Lamp ($40), is a good choice for an at-home office that is short on space.
Sendin says to keep in mind that a laptop also emits light, so you can use a dimmer bulb in your desk lamp — something in the range of 20–30 watts.
At home, people are even more likely to be sedentary than at the office — with no commute, no co-workers to go see, and less reason to drink water or coffee, Hopkins says.
She says this happened to her, so she bought a home water cooler. At the least, keep a water bottle in your home office, such as the chic S’well White Marble Bottle ($35 at swellbottle.com), that you’ll love having by your side.
Hopkins also checks her activity with a FitBit Blaze ($200 at fitbit.com), a fitness tracker she wears to keep track of her movement, but any type of pedometer would work.
“There is some research that says if you work from home, your bad habits can be accentuated,” she says. “If you’re a smoker, you smoke more, an eater you eat more. It’s easier to gain weight at home, so a pedometer helps you keep track of how much you’re moving.”