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Not to be dramatic, but it felt like my whole life changed when my family purchased a house two years ago and I finally had my own office. For almost ten years, I worked wherever I could – usually in my kitchen, on my bed, or at an indoor playspace with free wifi, doubling as child entertainment. So being able to close the door for meetings, control the noise level (to some extent), and have a professional background for all those Zoom calls was very freeing.
Not everyone has the luxury of a dedicated workspace. But those who do understand that the right environment makes a huge difference in the way you are able to work.
However, a poor office space with no light, bad air quality, water that tastes off, or is the wrong temperature for you, might be worse than no office at all. Sitting day in and day out in a space with any of these things can actually hinder your physical and mental health. This is bad for business, of course, but perhaps more important are the long-term effects on your well-being.
Setting up a healthy, inspiring office space isn’t rocket science, but it does take some effort. When you work in a corporate building, things like air filtration, safe water, ergonomics, climate control, etc. are taken care of for you. But as millions of people made the move to working from home in the last few years, they may not have thought about these details as they relate to their home office space. It’s time to change that.
In this article, we will discuss how to make your home office environment more conducive to a productive workday, a better relationship with your job, and a healthier you.
Part 1: The Benefits of Clean Air and Water in Your Home Office
Things like air and water quality are something that a traditional 9-5 employee probably never thinks about. But behind the scenes of every office building is a team that ensures that air and water filters are changed regularly, checks for hazards like lead or mold, cleans and disinfects surfaces, and provides proper ventilation, among other things.
Air pollution can cause a variety of health issues, ranging from minor things like fatigue, and difficulty concentrating to more major things like headaches that may keep you from working at all. Drinking or washing with poor quality water can lead to eye irritation or gastrointestinal problems. All of this impacts your ability to work.
When you work remote, your environment is up to you. It’s important to check the filters in your HVAC system and water supply regularly. In fact, most manufacturers recommend that you change those filters every three months.
Most freelancers are probably not actually doing that…partly because it seems really complicated. Which filter should you get (there are seven different types)? How do you change it? And how are you supposed to remember to do something that you never see and may not have even known was necessary?
FiltersFast.com just may have the answer. With at least 16 different air filter brands, dozens of different sizes, a handy FAQ section and customer support available via email or phone, FiltersFast.com is a great place to start in your hunt for better air quality in your home office. For example, customers prone to allergies or sensitive to pollution may find that filters with a MERV 11 or MERV 13 rating work well to reduce those irritants. They offer water filters as well.
To top it off, FiltersFast.com has a convenient Home Filter Club subscription, so you can have filters delivered on a regular schedule and never have to think about it again! Learn more here.
Part 2: Maximizing Ergonomics for Better Health and Comfort
Air and water quality are not the only things that impact your health while you work. Good ergonomics is also vital for productivity and comfort.
When most people think of ergonomics, a split keyboard or a standing desk probably come to mind, but there is a lot more to it than that. Ergonomics is the science of designing and arranging workplaces, products and systems to fit the people who use them. In the context of a home office, ergonomics can help you create a comfortable and productive work environment that reduces the risk of injury.
It is pretty much a no-brainer that if you are uncomfortable, you won’t be very productive, and there is research to back this up. Poor ergonomics can add to stress, cause injury and decrease your motivation to work.
But unless you have your own master’s degree in ergonomics, odds are, you haven’t thought that much about it.
Luckily, there are simple changes you can make in order to have a more ergonomic home office:
- Choose the right chair. Think about it. If you have a job that focuses on computer work, you are likely sitting for hours at a time. This means that the chair you sit in makes a huge difference in your comfort. Look for a chair with adjustable seat height, armrests, and lumbar support.
- Adjust your desk. Your desk should be high enough that you don’t have to slouch or hunch over. You should also have enough space to spread out your work and keep your materials organized.
- Position your monitor. Your monitor should be at eye level so that you don’t have to tilt your head up or down. If your monitor is too high, you can use a monitor stand or stack books or boxes under it. If your monitor is too low, you can use a keyboard tray or place it on a lower shelf.
- Use a keyboard and mouse that are comfortable for you. Your keyboard and mouse should be in a natural position for your hands to reach. Some people find a split ergonomic keyboard or a natural shaped mouse more comfortable than their standard counterparts.
- Stay hydrated. We all know we’re supposed to drink water, but few people realize how little they are typically drinking throughout the day. Dehydration contributes to sluggishness, lightheadedness, and irritability. It’s no wonder that being even a little bit dehydrated––1% below optimal––can lead to a 12% drop in productivity. A quality water bottle with a filter, like the Invigorated Water PH Hydrate Alkaline Water Filter 300 ML Bottle, can help you keep track of how much you are drinking and ensure that the water is clean and pure. Watch your productivity rise as you stay hydrated!
- Consider your lighting. Your home office should have good lighting so that you can see your work clearly. If the overhead lighting in the room is not sufficient, consider using a desk lamp.
- Reduce noise. Music you enjoy, noise-canceling headphones or earplugs can go a long way towards neutralizing a noisy environment.
- Decorate your space. Make your home office comfortable and inviting by adding personal touches like photos, artwork that speaks to you, plants or knick-knacks that bring you joy.
By following these tips, you can create a comfortable and productive home office that reduces the risk of injury.
FiltersFast.com can help you discover products that make setting up an ergonomic home office a breeze. Try the PureGuardian H1510 100-Hour Ultrasonic Humidifier or the smaller Crane EE-5950 Travel Cool Mist Humidifier if your office space tends to be too dry. An air purifier like the Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Whole Room Air Purifier or the Airfree Tulip 1000 Air Purifier may help you deal with pollen, dust, pet dander and more. Investing in items that make your workspace cleaner, healthier or more pleasant will pay off in the long run.
Part 3: Creating a Stress-Free Environment for Optimal Productivity
Did you know that stress can cause sleep deprivation, affect your engagement with your work, and cause burnout? According to a survey by Colonial Life, 41% of workers feel less productive when they are stressed. That is why it’s vital to create an environment that relieves, rather than adds to your stress level when you are working from home.
Some ideas to help reduce stress in your home office are:
- Set boundaries. When you work from home, it’s easy to blur the lines of working and down time. Having a dedicated workspace can help with this. Even if you don’t have a separate room, find a corner to put your desk, and only work when you are in your “office.” When you leave your desk, it’s time to stop working.
- Occupy your hands. For some people, having something to do with your fingers takes the edge off of frustrating or tense situations. Consider keeping a stress ball, fidget spinner, clicker, pop-it, textured strips or any other item that helps to relax you on your desk.
- Practice self care. When work gets to be too much, it’s time to take a break. And when you hit a wall with your current project, you will likely find that coming back to it with fresh eyes later helps you get it done faster than struggling through. Take a walk, a short nap, or even a bath with a good book, a candle and some Stress Therapy Spa Salts. Any short activity that you enjoy can help you reset your day and lower your stress.
- Reduce triggers. Anything that adds to your anxiety is hindering your productivity. If the air quality causes you to sneeze, check your filter. If the sun is in your eyes, it’s time to add a curtain or change the way your desk faces. If the wall color gives you a headache, spend the weekend painting. You’ll be surprised how small changes can really make a difference in the way you feel.
One of the perks of being a freelancer is the ability to work from home if you want to. However, with that flexible lifestyle comes the responsibility to care for your own physical and mental health needs in your working environment.
Neglecting the basics in your home office––clean air, clean water, stressors, your basic comfort, ergonomic equipment, etc.––impacts your performance, whether you realize it or not. You will do your best work in a space that is clean, free of pollutants, peaceful and joyful.
You can create this type of environment through carefully planning your home office just as you would any other space in your home. Look for products that support your wellbeing. An air purifier or a comfortable chair are not just objects, they are tools to help you boost productivity and propel your career forward.
And, if you are self-employed, all of these things are tax write offs!
Spend the time, effort and investment you need to in order to have a healthy home office. Hopefully making a space you love will be as life-changing for you as it has been for me.
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Written by Kylie Burgener
Staff at Millo.co
Kylie Jackson Burgener is a mother of three and a freelance consultant, specializing in public relations, writing and content marketing. She is a cofounder of Measured Melodies, a leveled piano sheet music system for piano teachers and students. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her family.
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