Employers embracing home-working has been one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Although the shift presented challenges for many people, a significant proportion of workers hope to have the option of flexible working in the future.
But when the first lockdown was brought in, many workers were unprepared for the reality of working from home. Office workers found themselves creating desks from ironing boards or struggling with aches and pains from working on the sofa.
With the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis to increase to after the pandemic, having a proper work-from-home set-up is key. And the good news is that you don’t need a fancy home office. Simply investing in a few items will make remote working a lot easier and more comfortable.
An office filing cabinet
A desk and proper office chair is key to avoiding aches and pains, but a filing cabinet is a great investment too. When you work from home, it’s hard to stick to your traditional “office” hours and as a result, many home workers end up feeling burned out. If you can see your laptop and your work in a pile on the kitchen table or in the lounge, it will always be at the back of your mind as you watch Netflix.
It’s far less tempting to see if you’ve got a reply to that email or a response from a client if your laptop isn’t on the table or desk in front of you. Physically putting your laptop away or filing away your work into a drawer will really help. It might also be worth tidying up the work space, signalling that you’re done for the day.
It might not be an essential item, but VR can make remote working more fun. “Adoption of VR and AR has been accelerated at hyper-speed by the pandemic, so you might surprise yourself by investing in a VR headset and entering into a virtual office from the comfort of your own home in the not-too-distant future,” says Angharad Salazar Llewellyn, founder of The Flex Network.
“Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 was released in late 2020. It’s an affordable, hands-free VR headset that comes with a programme called Infinite Office built in, but also works with Spatial.io’s technology that creates a holographic version of your colleagues — created from something as simple as a selfie.”
As well as enhancing the work from home experience, having a virtual extension of the physical office has the potential to create more engaging experiences for a wider, and more diverse range of workers,” Llewellyn says. “For example, those who are mobility-impaired, and aren’t easily able to travel to a central location,” she adds.
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A posture corrector
Being hunched over a laptop for eight or more hours a day takes its toll on our health. According to research from Bupa UK nearly two thirds (63%), equating to 11 million Brits, have injured their back, neck, hips, knees or wrists, amongst other injuries as a result of working from home.
Only one in three (32%) has a dedicated workspace in their home, and as a result, home workers are using their sofas, kitchen chairs, beds or even bean bags as makeshift workstations.
Although a good office set up will help, as well as regular stretching and movement, a posture corrector can be a good investment too. A lightweight, comfortable one will provide gentle correction when you are beginning to slump, reducing the likelihood of a sore back and neck.
Our working environment has more of an impact on our mental wellbeing than we realise. In fact, research has found that offices devoid of pictures or plants are “toxic” to workers, who are more satisfied and perform better with a bit of greenery around.
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Purchasing a couple of easy-to-care for houseplants can make your home a nicer place to work, particularly as you’ll spend most of your time there if you’re not commuting to an office. There are a huge number to choose from as sales of plants and flowers have soared this year, with the average person buying two new houseplants during lockdown, according to a study by Homebase.
Noise cancelling headphones
If you expect to do regular video calls with your colleagues while working from home, it’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of headphones with a decent microphone. It will help you hear everyone on the call better, but it will also ensure that everyone hears you loud and clear when you speak up your mind.
Headphones can be pricey, but a good pair will last you for a long time. And noise-cancelling versions will also help drown out the noise of housemates, children or partners, too.
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