Most working Americans spend a majority of their waking hours sitting at their desk. A typical work week for many people looks like sitting in an office for eight hours a day, five days a week. Spending this much time sitting can cause pain and even chronic health issues, especially if your desk isn’t set up to fit you. In a typical office, there’s usually a standard setup that works well enough for everyone. Some offices even have ergonomic tools that you can use to adjust your work area to fit you appropriately.
However, most people don’t have the same tools at home as they do in the office. Some don’t even have a desk. Many are using kitchen tables, beds, even ironing boards. Even if you have a desk at home, chances are it’s not your dream office space. And many people struggle with organization, focus, and productivity if their office space isn’t ideal. Having an improper office space can take a significant toll on the amount of work you can complete and how satisfied you are doing it.
A typical full-time job takes up about 40 hours of your week on average. Because you’re spending that much time in the office or, in this case, in your home office, it must fit you and your job appropriately. An ergonomic solution is especially important if you’re working from home permanently or for the foreseeable future.
What's Wrong With My Home Office?
Many people go their entire lives dealing with chronic pain in their lower back and hips. They go to doctors and chiropractors, buy different mattress pads, get insoles for their shoes, take medication, and do everything they can to alleviate the pain. What they don't realize is that sitting all day can cause many of these chronic pain issues. And it's not just about sitting.
Improper setup of your office equipment, having your monitor or keyboard at the wrong height, or even sitting up too high or low to your desk can cause chronic pain. There are other factors at play in your home office that can affect your health in ways you wouldn't even think of. Many people are more easily distracted in their homes, thinking of other things they need to get done, chasing kids around the house, or getting a bit too comfortable to get any work done. It can also be more challenging to organize your work supplies and separate them from the rest of the stuff stored in that space, especially if there isn't much room. These factors can have a terrible influence on mental health, overwhelming the individual, and blurring the line between "work-life" and "home-life."
What Are The Risks of Working in an Improper Office?
Chronic pain isn't the only negative side effect of working long hours in an office space that is not fit for you. Sitting all day or working in an office that's not ergonomically suited to you can cause decreased focus, productivity, and motivation. It can make you more susceptible to some injuries and chronic illnesses, and believe it or not, sitting all day increases tiredness. If, on top of having a desk space that doesn't fit you, you are also getting distracted and lacking space for organization, working from home can seem overwhelming and unsuccessful. All of these factors affect your productivity. Decreased productivity can lead to more extended workdays and adverse reports from your boss.
How Can I Improve My Home Office?
If you have space issues, it's always good to take the time to go through all of the things you're trying to store and toss away the things you don't need anymore. Many great organizational tools are made for small spaces and can make a noticeable difference in decluttering your office space. Many ergonomic desk solutions are made for small spaces but still give you the freedom to adjust your desk to meet your needs. If you love the desk you have, some tools can also connect to your desk to provide you with adjustable height options to ensure the most ergonomic solution.
If distraction is the issue, make sure your home office is set up in the house's quietest, cleanest room. If that isn't possible, minimize outside noise by shutting or locking the door, using a white-noise machine, or even getting noise-canceling headphones. Adjust your environment to create the least amount of distractions as possible. Don't sit and stare at the unfolded laundry, a tv, or the mess your kids are making. If some of these scenarios are unavoidable, position yourself in a way that keeps these distractions out of sight. Some people, typically those with more creative minds, work better in chaos, while others do well in a neat, minimalist environment. Know yourself and the environment that works for you, but eliminate any unnecessary or unproductive distractions.
If your desk setup is physically unfit for you, you may want to consider a height adjustable desk. Many individuals that switch to an adjustable height solution notice a significant increase in comfort, focus, productivity, and satisfaction. Most people also experience a decrease in chronic pain from sitting. They are more focused and generally more satisfied with their work.
Taking time to stand while working increases blood flow and stretches your body in crucial ways to ensure your brain is working at it’s best. Being able to adjust your desk or monitor’s height will also improve your posture, which is another critical element to decreasing chronic pain and discomfort.
Having an office space suitable for you and your needs is not something to take for granted. When your home office is a clean space, free of distraction, and is adjusted to your specifications, you will notice an enormous difference in comfort, productivity, focus, and job satisfaction.