Ergonomics and productivity: the anatomy of an effective home office
Working from your own home can be an exciting experience because of the opportunities for new modes of efficiency, comfort and personal freedom that it offers. Peak productivity, however, can be negatively impacted if the office you create is too casual or if there is no clear demarcation from the rest of your domestic environment.
Demarcation through design
Comfort is, of course, a vital element in any office, but you simply won’t be able to shift the workload in one that is too comfortable and you need to be able to separate office and home activities to avoid unwarranted interruptions. The design of the office space is the most effective means of making this distinction from the outset.
A home office doesn’t have to be large but it does need to be separate from other areas of the home. Converting a spare bedroom is one solution, and when you’ve settled on the area all your work should be kept within that space. Non-office space in the home should also be kept free of work-related materials as this will allow for proper relaxation out of office hours.
The equipment needs to be efficient and fast, as these are critical factors in a small home office. Ask yourself whether you really need a color photocopier, for instance, or whether using the local print shop would be more cost-effective. A wireless hub is pretty much a necessity these days, allowing you to work from your laptop or desktop and enabling file sharing between different pieces of hardware.
You’ll also need a separate office line for the phone, enabled for conferencing, messaging and speaker functions.
Good lighting is another essential. It’s best to use as much natural light as possible, supplemented by task and general lighting in the office. If the office is in a room without windows, such as a basement, you should investigate light sources that replicate daylight, and these should be full-spectrum and energy efficient. Dimmer switches are also a good idea.
The functional office furniture you choose as a design element needs to be comfortable, flexible and safe. Adjustability and comfort are essential when you spend long hours looking at a monitor, and manufacturers have made significant improvements in these areas recently. Chairs with pelvis balance points are now available which are kind to the spine and back; it’s certainly worth investing in one or more of these.
Choosing the right color scheme is important because different colors elicit different physical and emotional reactions. Relaxation and peace are evoked by greens, violets and blues, yellow will grab attention, and red is the most energetic color. The rules here aren’t hard and fast – it really depends on your personal preferences. Just be sure to test out a few colors before moving in.
You need to ‘own’ your office space and make it an extension of your personality – a place that encourages focus rather than being cluttered with distractions.