In our everyday practice we try to support you in creating and implementing effective office spaces. We would like to stand by you also in this extraordinary situation – by sharing and offering all the help we can when our home often becomes our office. Are your homes ready for it? How do you achieve work-life balance if you remain confined to one space all day long?
And how do you manage the work of your employees, who are also working from home? How do you make the time spent in your home office highly productive?
We will provide answers to all of these questions in our cycle #MakeYourSpaceAtHome: business edition, which you are currently looking at. We share specialist knowledge on office space design and acoustics as well as information obtained from product advisors and architects. In order to come up with this special edition, we joined forces. And now we would like you to join in.
We want to create content that suits your needs. We are open to any suggestions and ideas. Tell us how you cope in this difficult business environment.
Do you try to recreate your office setting at home, or do you arrange a completely different home office space?
We would like to encourage you to share photos from your home office here - wherever you decided to organise it. We also wish to invite you to follow this cycle, which will be published over the next few days. We can promise you one thing – it won’t be boring!
#2 Ergonomic work environment at home – what does your team need?
It is always good to take care of your health, e.g. by focusing on proper body posture, regulating your workstation or observing workplace hygiene. Following these rules in the office, where everybody has access to a proper chair, laptop pad etc., may be boring, but at least it’s doable. Problems appear when you have no access to the relevant equipment, because all of your team is forced to work from home.
As a manager you are responsible not only for yourself, but also for other employees. Ask them if they are fine, if there is anything they need. Maybe you can help them arrange a proper workstation at home for this occasion, which might last a bit longer? Sometimes offering a few proven pieces of advice, like those below, will show your team that you care and are willing to support them. This is something we need not only in times of crisis.
I don’t have my own office
What do you do if your employees don’t have a suitable room to work in, with a PC, regulated chair and a well-lit desk? They will have to improvise. A crisis encourages us to look for creative solutions. Below we will give you a few useful tips. We should remember, however, that none of these solutions will guarantee the comfort and ergonomic quality that come with a proper chair and regulated desk.
In order to cope with the situation for the time being, it is good to define the space you are going to work in. It could be a dining room table and a regular chair. When you sit, try to keep your knees at an angle of ca. 90°. Your elbows should also be at the right angle after you put your forearms on the table. Sometimes you have to sit on a folded blanket or two to achieve this. You can also use a footrest (it could be e.g. a shoebox). If something works, don’t be afraid to share it!
Another aspect is the position of the computer screen: its upper edge should be right below the line of sight. If the laptop is on the table and the upper edge of the screen is too low, try putting a few books underneath.
If the back of your chair does not support your spine, i.e. if your lumbar spine does not rest against the back of the chair – place a cushion so that your lower back is supported. This will help you avoid back pain.
Sitting is not the end of the story
Once you have created a comfortable makeshift workplace, it’s time to stand up. If you spend a lot of time sitting, it’s not good for you even if the position you choose is most ergonomic. Your muscles stiffen, pressure on the veins causes ischaemia, and lack of exercise accounts for low oxygen supply. It’s time for a coffee break! Or maybe you have access to a high windowsill or a kitchen island - a place where you could work in a standing position? Use it! This will not replace a professional desk and office chair, but won’t do you any harm, either. You can also make a tour around your flat while you talk to your team members on the phone. This also counts as exercise!
You should change your position following the 50/25/25 model: during one hour you spend 50% of the time sitting down, 25% standing and the other 25% in motion. You could also do some exercise to relax your muscle tension, help you get rid of stiffness and provide your brain with an extra dose of oxygen. This is where you can find some sample exercises and an instructions – share them with your team.
And one more thing: which of these pictures looks more like your home office?
#3 Working zone vs chill-out zone. Activity Based Working in your home office
Office, nursery, school, leisure centre … our homes have recently been assigned more functions than ever before. Whether you are a specialist, a manager, a director, you will face the same challenge. You need to separate those areas where you work, communicate, focus or relax.
Form good habits and rituals
As a manager you are partially responsible for managing the time of your employees. Try to make your work at home resemble your office routine. Get up at roughly the same time; remember what time you start to work, so that you know when to finish. It’s good to inform your team about it, so that they know when you’re available. Share this rule with everybody, so that you all respect one another’s working hours and try to make the most of it.
Reliable work-life balance
While you work from home, it’s easy to disrupt work-life balance. In this situation, healthy and balanced lifestyle is of utmost importance, because it boosts your immunity and the ability to cope with stress. When you’re in home office, it’s easy to forget about it. We often work longer hours: sometimes we want to wind up certain projects, or to show our superiors that although we’re at home, we are doing our job rather than wasting time. We also feel we have more of the latter, because we don’t have to commute. We sometimes procrastinate, so that our duties take up all day, because every time we get distracted, we feel the need to make up for the lost time. If your team loses their work-life balance, remind them how important it is; although they might be working shorter hours, their effectiveness will in fact increase.
Activity based working. Get up and go, also at home.
A lot has recently been said about diverse work-related activities, office zoning and doing specific tasks in relevant places. It is no longer surprising that you discuss projects in a meeting room, you hold telephone conversations in a special booth and you eat lunch in the kitchen rather than at your desk.
When you transfer Activity Based Working principles to your home office, you will soon feel the difference, especially if this is the first time you ever experience the benefits of zoning. There is a lot of practice and psychology to support this concept. It’s much easier to focus on specific activities if you realise and remember that you normally do them in specific places. This is why it is important not to work while you’re in bed, because this will impact both your work and the quality of your sleep.
We know that the advice we provided will not solve all of the problems you and your team may be facing in your everyday home-office setting. Still, we believe that these tips may make your life easier and help you organise your work, so that you can be the beginning of a greater, better change for yourself and your team.