Is Your Home Office Harming Your Health?
07 May 2021
Whether you are a freelancer or just working from home during the pandemic, having a home office is an important way of ensuring your working day is as successful as possible. But if you have just quickly thrown together a small space in which to work, there is a good chance that it doesn’t quite have everything you might need it to have.
One of the things that you need to look into here is whether or not your home office is actually good for your health. You might not have put much thought into this, but it is one of those things that can come back to haunt you if you are not careful. In this post, we will look at some of the important things you can do to ensure your home office is not harming your health in any way.
Avoid Cramped Spaces
A lot of people are working in very cramped spaces at home, and this is understandable – most of us simply don’t have the means to turn an entire room into an office. However, you should aim to do whatever you can with what you have available to ensure that you are working in as open a space as possible. When you work in cramped spaces, you often find that you are going to be putting your body under a lot of stress that it really doesn’t need. The more open your working area, the better.
Keep It Separate
Are you the kind of person who is guilty of eating their lunch at their desk? Although you might feel that you are being more productive this way, there are so many reasons and powerful arguments against this behaviour. For one thing, you are almost certainly not actually being more productive – you will probably find that your work worsens as a result anyway. But more importantly, not giving yourself a proper break means that you are putting a lot more pressure and stress on yourself, so this is something to be aware of too. It is best to set out your home office in such a way that it is as separate from your home life as possible. That is a huge psychological difference indeed.
Sit Up Straight
One of the downsides of working at home is that you almost certainly don’t have the right kind of chair to sit on compared to an office. This is bad news for your posture, and if you know for a fact that you are rarely making a point of sitting right, you should absolutely look into this as soon as you can. It is well worth treating yourself to a proper office chair, ideally an ergonomic one that is going to suit your body as well as possible. This will stop you getting aches and pains in later life, and it means that you are going to be able to put in longer hours without it being too harmful for you either. And by all costs, do not work from the sofa!
Use Proper Lighting
Again, it is likely that your home is not set up like an office, so that probably means that you don’t have quite the right lighting to be working in for hours on end. The ideal is to get as much natural lighting as you possibly can into your home office, but you will almost certainly also need some artificial lighting, so you are going to need to choose this very carefully and be careful about how you light the room. You can find out everything you need to know about office lighting online, but the main takeaway is: make sure you are not having to strain to read anything. If you are, you are almost certainly causing eye strain, and you might experience headaches and other unfortunate side effects as a result.
As well as making sure that your home office is as good as possible and not actively harming your health, you should also ensure that you are getting out at least once a day. If you find yourself staying in all day, you are going to find yourself getting a little bit cabin fever-y, and that is not good for your mental health. Set up a coffee or lunch with a friend or colleague, go for a walk in the park, or even have a sneaky pub lunch on a Friday. You’ll find that this helps massively in keeping your mental health strong, and it means you are going to enjoy working from home so much more.
Avoid Stale Air
You also need to think about the quality of the air in your home, and especially in the home office if that is where you spend most of the day. There are many ways to improve air quality. You can bring in some plants from outdoors, and make sure that there are plenty of them dotted around the home. Or you can simply keep windows open as much as possible – that is generally wise in this current climate, anyway. Or you might want to think about buying an air purifier. However you do it, it’s vital that you are taking care of the air in your home, as otherwise you could end up experiencing respiratory problems just from working in your home office.
Finally, remember that the decor around you makes a huge difference to your feeling of wellbeing too. In particular, you are going to want to ensure that the colors you have chosen are not adding to any feeling of stress you might have. That means that you want to stick to nice, neutral colors which are not going to cause your brain to overload too much. You might not think it makes that much difference, but it really does in the grand scheme of things.
If you can do all that, your home office should be a much more salubrious environment in which to work, and your health will be in a much better state.