When you work for yourself, you can find that your work schedule frequently spills over into leisure time and before you know it, you’re sleeping less, feeling decidedly less relaxed and the more aligned work life balance that had been part of your original plan seems to have gone out of the window. Another potential hazard is headaches, which along with colds are reportedly the number one cause of absenteeism from work and when your work for yourself, sick days are a tricky topic to navigate. Headaches can be stress induced from overworking, brought on by lack of fresh air or may at least in part be due to an ill conceived desk set up, so how do you protect your health in your home office and is your home office giving you headaches?
Let there be light – in the right places
It’s very important to introduce natural light into a working space. Not only will this help you feel bright and more awake, it is also proven to aid a good sleep pattern and productivity. If your desk is nestled in the corner of another room away from a window, consider aiding flow of light with bifold doors. These from Vufold are available in both classic oak and more modern finishes to match your décor.
Whether you are positioned near a natural light source or need to rely on a desk or ceiling lamp, you’ll need to take steps to prevent glare on your computer screen, which can trigger headaches and migraines. Position it directly in front of you with the top at eye level and take time to set the brightness and contrast level to comfortable settings. Glare from light bulbs and windows can cause issues, so try and ensure they don’t shine directly on your screen. Along with careful positioning you may want to fit an anti-glare cover to your computer screen.
Find the right angle
It’s not just your computer screen that needs to be in just the right place, if you’re spending more than a few hours a time at your desk it’s recommended that you invest in an adjustable ergonomic chair. As well as supporting your lower back, you should be able to alter the height and position of your chair so that it comfortably supports you at the correct height to comfortably navigate your keyboard and mouse and type with your hands in line with your arms and wrists straight, this should stop nasty aches and pains developing. If you find that your feet are away from the floor when you’re at desk level, purchase a tilting foot support and resist the urge to cross your legs, it’s really not good for you!
Keep things fresh
Keeping a clean and tidy desk doesn’t just help you to find and do things quicker, it also minimises the amount of movement you need to make, which can help you avoid uncomfortable twisting and turning of your head and neck. Back pain is a common byproduct of working at desks and while regular massages can ease problems, it helps to take preventative measures too. Can you position items such as calendars and telephones within easy view and reach? You should also clean your keyboard and desk regularly – it’s estimated the average keyboard harbours over 7500 bacteria, which is not the kind of office party you want to be promoting.
Take a break
One of the best things you can do to protect your health and productivity is to take regular breaks. Try and step away from your screen for five to ten minutes every hour and think about getting some fresh air during your lunch break too. Staring and sitting for long periods can cause a host of problems with your back, legs and eyes. While it can feel like taking a break is slowing you down, spending a moment stretching or resting your eyes will keep you more comfortable, which could just help you finish that important project.
How is your home office set up? Do you wish you had more sunlight or a more comfortable desk or chair? Are you good at taking regular breaks or do you find yourself staring at your screen and typing for hours on end while you’re in the zone? Perhaps you’re planning a home office refurb to support your health goals?
If you have any tips for creating a healthy and comfortable work environment, please share them below.