Tips and Tricks for Creating the Perfect Remote Workspace
People are being forced to work from home, many figuring out how for the first time. If this is the case, you may be part of the group that currently doesn’t have a designated workspace in their home.
Much of the Framework IT team was also in the same boat. Our office is filled mostly with technicians who rely heavily on landline phones and multi-screen set-ups.
Luckily, we have some experience in that area. For over a decade Framework has been setting up and maintaining workspaces and we understand that this is an unusual crisis in the information era. Many of you reading are struggling with staying productive at home and making the most of your current situation.
Below are some ideas for picking out the most productive remote work spot. Fortunately, you most likely already have all of the resources you need to create your perfect space.
The Framework team also sent in photos of their desks to use as different sparks of inspiration!
Location, Location, Location
Where you choose to set up camp is going to be very important to the future of your productivity. Ideally, you will want to situate yourself away from potential distractions such as televisions, gaming systems, or chatty roommates. On average, it takes 25 minutes to regain focus after a distraction, so keep this in mind when picking potential work locations.
If you are working from home with children or pets, it is understandable that you may not be able to shut yourself away completely from these distractions. If this is the case, try and set up your space where your responsibilities can be monitored from afar.
According to the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being More Productive, they mention: “Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to.” Creating a space separate from your normal living areas will give you a mental boundary between home and work.
I'm going to be breaking the point of view here, but I'm Rachael, Framework IT’s project coordinator! Currently I am working with a very small space. I live alone in my studio with my two cats, and normally this is enough room for the three of us. However, I realized very quickly that I was going to be stir crazy. I don’t have a normal designated desk space, so I set up a card table facing the window for vitamin D and some views. I will occasionally work on the balcony if it isn’t too cold!
If you are still having trouble deciding where you should put your new space, think about it as if you were looking for an apartment. If you had the opportunity to choose between a unit looking out over some greenery and one with a view of a brick wall – you would choose the trees. Your location can make or break your productivity.
Don’t Forget Ergonomics
Many people underestimate or are even unaware of the importance of ergonomics. Ergonomics is broadly defined as the study of human efficiency in their working environment.
There are three types of ergonomics: Physical, cognitive, and organizational. In the case of remote work, ergonomists would look at physical factors and repercussions of sitting for long periods. If executed correctly, being ergonomic with your remote workspace will reduce pain and increase productivity.
When creating your remote workspace, try to keep in mind ergonomic factors. You will be thanking yourself in the long run when you go back to the office without back pain.
- The proper chair is key. If you don't have access to an ergonomically designed chair, try to maintain a straight posture with your feet flat on the floor. If possible, lumbar support and armrests are also conducive to an ergonomic position.
- Stand if you can. If you don't have a standing desk you can put your computer on a tall counter or add height to your current desk with makeshift items such as books. The angle between your forearm and upper arm should be between 90 degrees and 110 degrees while your arms are at rest on the desk.
- Correctly situate your computer. Improper monitor or laptop placement can cause strain to your neck and shoulders; not to mention if you are sitting too close you may experience stress on the eyes. As a general rule of thumb, you should place your laptop or monitor about 20 inches in front of you and at an angle of 10-20 degrees.
Framework’s Chief Revenue Officer Ben Kohn talks about his space saying, "I am a simple guy work on my kitchen island to reduce the number of steps between me and my snacks. I can also alternate between sitting and standing – it’s good on my back but also for my add. My French press is always about 1/3 full, and my AirPods are my only non-laptop necessity.”
Working on your computer all day is already tiring, do yourself a favor and at least make it comfortable – while proactively preventing chronic back pain and other complications.
Lighting is Everything
Perfect lighting isn’t only necessary to achieve a good Instagram photo, it is also important for your remote workspace. Improper lighting in your space can not only cause strain on the eyes but may lead to more pressing ailments like chronic headaches, itchiness, and blurred vision.
Your lighting set-up should be sufficient enough for you to see the text on the screen, but not so bright that there is glare or discomfort.
To eliminate risks from bright lights, consider putting your remote space somewhere where you can open and close drapery or dim the lights. Use indirect lighting where possible and avoid excessive bright lights directly in your eyes.
Framework’s lovely Operations Manager, Maggie Barney, didn’t need much but proper lighting for her space. “All I needed was some coffee and natural light to get me through this fight! Oh, and dog treats. Lots of dog treats to prevent lots of barking at squirrels.”
Don't let your eyes get neglected! By properly lighting your remote workspace you can decrease or reduce troublesome eye concerns.
Positive Images and Stimuli
If you had access to your office, you would walk around only to see that some coworkers have pictures of their families or their pets at their workspace. Some have artwork, some have toys, and some may have nothing but their computer.
However you choose to decorate, your desk space is an individualized mini-reflection of your personality.
A study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology determined that decorating your workspace benefits employees by enhancing work productivity and overall energy.
If you find yourself lacking inspiration, try printing out some of your favorite pictures of your family, your pets, or even some of your most cherished travel destinations. You may not have many options for retail stores during this time, but big-box stores such as Target or Walmart have aisles dedicated to picture frames.
Although not entirely impromptu, Joe Casper, one of Framework’s help-desk dispatchers gave input about his workspace, "I enjoy the comfort of this room. I made this office/library/spare bedroom a "Me" space where I surround myself with my favorite books and pictures. Although, this is now my Mom's bedroom since she moved in with me a couple of years ago!"
Allow your workspace to encourage and empower you do to the best work you can. When you can look up from your work and see an image you enjoy, work becomes a lot less stressful.
Need Help Setting Up?
During this time of great uncertainty, it is important that you set up a remote workspace that inspires you to do the best you can. If you are looking for help setting up other features of your remote space, check out one of our previous blogs.
Framework IT can remotely walk you through the set-up of monitors, towers, and other functions of your IT environment. We want to ensure your company’s technology is functioning smoothly so each of your employees are prepared for every outcome.