These are unprecedented times where working from the home is the norm, rather than exception. And while this situation has its own benefits -not facing traffic jams, no travelling fatigue, more time with family, can work with preferred comfort clothing (if you don’t have video calls).
But for many of us it can be a struggle to have the right environment which is conducive for work. In this post, we attempt to share a few tips and some useful gear that can help you be a pro in working at home.
First things, it goes without saying that having the right mindset is the key in being effective in your work from home. And you also need a productive environment to help you with that like a dedicated place to do your work and a way of getting in and shutting out of work mode.
It’s also a fact that many of us have space constraints and privacy issues while working from home. At the same time, there are factors like not having the right kind of equipment which we usually have at office.
So how do we manage? Let’s talk about some ideas and some gear that can be really helpful in this scenario. Here, I try to share some useful stuff that helps you not only be more productive but also helps your posture and health. And ofcourse, but most of this stuff is reasonably priced.
This is a worthy investment allowing you to operate your laptop from the comfort of your bed. Especially useful if you don’t have a lot of space at home and want to set up your workspace even on bed. It gives you just the right height to place your laptop at your eye level.
You also have enough space to place your legs comfortably underneath the table. Another big plus is the laptop being fold-able and can be stored conveniently without occupying space at home. I recommend using this laptop desk(check on amazon).
You can also use it as breakfast or study table. So it it multi-purpose gear. And even with a laptop, it has just enough space to keep other stuff like mobile or water bottle.
Keeping laptop on sturdy wooden table is much better than some creative alternatives like a pillow which some people use .
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
Another really great device for WFH situation. Why do I need a wireless keyboard- when my laptop has a keypad.
Well, one really important benefit is a wireless keyboard helps you maintain some distance with your screen- which is good for your eyes. Also, having the keyboard held close to your body helps your posture. This helps to avoid back pain which you will can get from bending over when typing on the laptop keypad.
And if you are someone who has not got advanced keyboard skills and always reaching for your touchpad- speed of doing work will suffer.
Some creative jobs as well some systems require you to do a lot of clicks and drags. A wireless mouse in such kind of jobs is a much handy option that gives you much better control.
And wired is definitely not a preferred option and doesn’t give you the right flexibility.
You will get a lot of wireless keyboard and mouse combo with a single usb receiver that connects both devices. I would suggest going for the Logitech Keyboard and Mouse (Check details on Amazon), this is of very compact size which makes it very portable and you can keep it just about anywhere. I have been using this for 2 years without any problem. Another good option which is more cheaper is the iBall wireless keyboard and mouse (check on Amazon).
This is for those who prefer to keep the work desk clean. An ugly clutter of cables on your work space is always a turn off. This bin (available on amazon) organizes your cables and conceals the cables in a compact way- giving a clean and sleek look to your working space. You can conceal power adapters, chargers, USB hubs, excess wires and cables, spike guard (up to maximum 4 sockets) with this bin.
The bin has outlets at each side for connecting the cables to power. Its a good gear for home improvement as well as improving your workspace feel.
If you have a work table for your laptop, the fact is you will be sitting on the chair for most of your time. Having a good office chair also helps to get you to get into work mode. So do not underestimate the importance of a good and comfortable chair for your health.
Important factors to consider are height adjustment options, cushion quality, arm rest. Some would also like to have head-rest. You may also want options to adjust arm rest/head rest height.
Unfortunately, this is an area where I don’t recommend online purchase unless you have no other option- because it’s really difficult to select and get a good deal online. However, if you are looking purchase online, here is a chair (on Amazon) you can explore with decent reviews and reasonable pricing.
Sitting on chair the majority of your work day work can be a difficult for the body especially your back. While you should take some time every hour to get up and walk a bit, do some small exercises. Also, try taking calls from your phone where possible (when you don’t need to be in front of screen) so that you can also walk
Another good to have gear is backrest (available on Amazon) to improve your sitting posture and gives you more comfort on seat. Also, known as Lumbar Support Cushion-This is a must have for those who have back pain. If you are sitting for long hours, you are bound to get into the wrong posture and such a support can definitely help.
Foot-rest is another useful gear that helps you stay in the right posture. While there is a perception that this is more for shorter people, a foot rest actually helps even otherwise to reduce the pressure on your legs, improves circulation and blood flow. It can even help to prevent blood clots related to vein, can decrease swelling and varicose veins also relieves pressure on the lower back. Here is one of the wooden foot-rests (on Amazon) that I would recommend.
You also have adjustable and more ergonomic foot rest options (on Amazon).
Alternatively, you can also use a hack like a stool to get the same benefit. This is a much pocket friendly option for the creative people.
Whatever option you choose , don’t ignore using one when you need it.
This is another really helpful gear from an ergonomic perspective. I personally can’t do without this thing. With a laptop stand, you not only are able to lift the laptop screen at the right level, but also have the laptop keyboard in the right angle.
This can be a of great ergonomic benefit and helps your back, neck and eyes. As per ergonomic rules, the top of the monitor screen must be at your eye level, which can be easily get using a laptop stand like this with a cooling pad (Available on Amazon). You can also search for laptop wooden stands on Amazon, if you don’t want a cooling pad.
I personally like to use a wireless keyboard and the stand is used just to have the laptop screen in the right level. With the screen at the right level, it helps to improve focus and get a better read on laptop screen,
Some people also keep a stack of fat books under the laptop to get the screen at the right height. But this can effect laptop cooling and a stand that allows air or has a cooling pad is much better option for equipment.
Never the less, most people just have their head stooped down which leads to avoidable pain.
All the gear I recommend above is going to help you have the required set up aligned with basic ergonomic principles. I have seen most people either do not understand or don’t follow these principles which then creates problems of back and neck pain.
Remember the following important tips from ergonomic perspective:
- Adjust your chair height so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees and forearms are parallel to the floor when you are using the keyboard.
- Also, your knees should be bent at 90% so that the thighs are parallel to the floor. Use a foot rest in case required .
- Use a laptop stand to raise the laptop height – till the top of laptop screen is at eye level. In other words, the top of monitor screen should be parallel to the eyes. At this position, you should not be required to bend your neck or back.
- In terms of distance, the laptop screen should be at arm’s length. Again you should not be stooping to reach for your keyboard. So here is where we need a wireless keyboard and mouse to keep things within reach and have complete set up in order.
Here is a really helpful video which explains the ergonomic rules in very simple way-
Even if you are using hacks like stack of books to raise your laptop screen. Or a stool for foot rest, it all works but please don’t be lazy to avoid having a right set up which will take a toll on health.
On working from home and about being effective in your work in general, I recommend reading the book “Deep Work” (check on Amazon)– which talks about ways you can focus and has plenty of tips.
Also, do inculcate some light exercises and yoga like Pranayam in your daily routine so as to give body some work out. Make sure you are not sitting for more than 30 -40 minutes at a stretch. Get up and take breaks.
Also, remember to give your eyes a break. Usually suggested every 15-20 min, look way from laptop screen preferably at far way object for 20 seconds to avoid eye fatigue.
I hope this post helps you be more effective in working from home. If you find it useful, please share with your friends and family.