Working from home comes with its own set of challenges, including how to stay motivated, making sure your home office workspace is the best for your posture and wellbeing and deciding who's going to make the coffee.
Work these 10 tips into your telecommuting working day and you can tick 'Take care of myself' off your to-do list.
When we’re in the office, we leave our desks for conversations with colleagues, trips to the photocopier or bathroom, or to get a hot drink.
At home, we tend to be more sedentary. This isn’t great for our health and doesn’t give us the break from our workstation that the body needs.
Try to build movement and stretches into your home working day. You can do this by:
The Health and Safety Executive says that ‘short, frequent breaks are better than longer, infrequent ones’. For example, five to 10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every two hours. But if you find yourself getting achy more often than that, then listen to your body and move around a bit.
Hours spent looking at a computer screen won't do your eyes any favours. It's always a good idea to adjust the brightness and contrast controls on your screen, depending on how light your room is.
Kirsty Angerer, ergonomic consultant and member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors says: ‘Our eyes are muscles so they, too, need to move regularly and also have frequent rest breaks from looking at the screen.’
Aim to follow the '20/20/20 rule'. That means that every 20 minutes, you look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
When configuring your PC monitor or laptop screen, remember to:
Working in an office affords us the opportunity to both physically and psychologically leave our working life in the office at the end of the day.
Caroline Boyd, business psychologist at The Manager Hub, says: ‘When you’re working from home, this isn’t so easy to achieve. However, creating a demarcation between work life and home life may be beneficial to your mental wellbeing.’
If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room for your office, close the door on it when work is over and don’t return until the next time you’re due to start work. It's also worth tidying your office space at the end of each day so you don’t dread returning to it. Document boxes and file boxes can help with organisation.
Sticking to a strict work time routine will help to structure your day. Set your alarm to get up, prioritise tasks and pause to mark progress at the end of each day.
You can also try:
Research has found that offices with plants benefit from improved performance among staff compared with those without.
Plants can help to oxygenate a space and result in numerous health benefits, including reducing fatigue and headaches. However, our own research found that, contrary to popular claims, plants will do little to purify the air indoors.
This will help clean the air you’re working in, which may be particularly beneficial if you have hay fever, other allergies or asthma.
In the Which? test lab, we assess air purifiers for pollen, dust and smoke removal. Noise and how much energy each air purifier uses also impact on our recommendations.
If your workspace gets hot and stuffy in the summer you might want to invest in an air conditioner. You have two main options – a standalone air conditioner or a split-unit air conditioner.
A standalone air conditioner, also known as a single-unit or portable air conditioner, is plugged into your mains socket. It works by feeding the hose of the machine through an open window.
A split-unit air conditioner is comprised of both an indoor and outdoor unit.
If you’re used to knuckling down in a busy office or relish the hubbub of a public space, such as a café, there are free smartphone apps that can help recreate the ambient sounds of, say a coffee shop, to get you in the work frame of mind. Or you can use sounds that simply help you stay calm.
Android users can try:
If you own an Apple iPhone or iPad, try:
Natural light pouring into your home office is not only excellent for your eyes, it's good for your mind too.
If your home office doesn't have any windows, invest in a desk lamp to brighten things up. Alternatively, you could move your workspace to follow the best daylight throughout your working day by buying a desk on wheels, a laptop stand or a sofa tray desk. Compare more types in our .
The best position for a desk is at 90 degrees to a window, so that light doesn’t cause glare from behind or dazzle from in front. Changing your focus (by looking out of a window, for example), blinking from time to time and taking time away from your screen altogether are important to give your eyes a break.
Standing up and giving yourself breaks from your computer screen is important. Heading to the kitchen to make your favourite tipple gives you an excuse to leave your desk.
Give your workspace a makeover and inject new colours for a noticeable impact on your state of mind. That could be a coat of paint or a favourite accessory in your eyeline.
Karen Haller, colour psychology expert and author of The Little Book of Colour, told us: 'Pick colours that you love to help brighten your mood and improve productivity. When it comes to colour psychology, yellow communicates happiness and optimism – it’s like a cheery hello!'
'A dash of red could be the pick-me-up that you need, or a turquoise blue to wake up the mind. Go with what feels right for you, which could change from morning to afternoon.'