Work from home is everyone’s new reality, so I made you a ultimate guide to all important aspects of home-office that will enhance your productivity and wellbeing. At first we find ourselves turning our dining table into a ‘workspace’ but if you’re working from home like a while now,  it’s well worth investing in a proper setup for ergonomic and holistic Home-office to minimize strain on your back, neck, and core. We have such weird notions about pain: ‘No pain, no gain,’ things like that. But that doesn’t really apply to a situation like this and I thought it would be the perfect time to pass some tips and remind us how to create and keep a healthy home office that will enhance your productivity and wellbeing. You need to listen to your body – you are the one that benefits the most from it! Whether you are after a quick fix or looking to invest in a set up for long term use, I got you covered. Having an ergonomic setup can help lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and reduce the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, muscle strains, and lower back injuries.

1. FIRST THINGS FIRST – YOUR CHAIR

Believe it, you can transform your existing dining chair into an ergonomic home-office chair immediately, it’s all about your posture and pelvic tilt. Almost every chair has one of two problems: they’re either too deep or too soft. However, if you follow these two simple steps below you can make any chair comfortable and sit with a straight spine.

Quick fix

If you’d rather not install a keyboard tray under your dining room table or force the fourth guest at your next dinner party into an office chair, consider some tweaks on the margins. A pillow goes a long way: placing one on the seat of your chair will both relieve some of the stress the hard chair is putting on your butt and raise you up slightly, helping you get a better angle over your keyboard and mouse.

Long term investment

If working from home is going to be you for the foreseeable future, with or without the pandemic, then investing in an ergonomic home-office chair is worth considering. The height adjustability, lumbar support and even seat tilt mechanism in some will offer that next level support. There are plenty on the market, though the tricky part is finding an option that is within budget and doesn’t look like a call centre office chair. The quickest and highest-impact (and, yes, most expensive) thing you can do to improve your WFH setup is to replace what is probably a dining chair with an actual office chair—most importantly the kind that lets you adjust seat and arm height.

Home-Office 6 Tipps for holistic and ergonomic Home-Office
2. Get level with your screen

Quick fix

Just adding a laptop stand or a monitor arm, will make a huge difference to your posture and overall work environment. If you’re not used to working from home, chances are the only piece of equipment you have is your laptop. But looking down at your laptop, especially from the higher ground that benefits your arms and wrists, can be really bad for your neck. To find a good ergonomic position, close your eyes and hold your head where it feels most comfortable. You don’t have to worry about exactly where the top of the screen is. It’s far more important to think about where your work is on the screen, and how you’re positioning your head to see the work on your screen. Books underneath the laptop to prop up the screen, combined with a wireless keyboard and mouse also work as an immediate solution. Focus that screen is centered and at the correct height for your eyesight as this will help prevent any twisting in the neck.

Long term investment

For most people the above will be a suitable solution, but for those of us that are looking for something that will adapt at the press of a button, then perhaps investing in an automatic sit to stand desk is worth considering oder some tables underneath your laptop. Modulor or Gustavconcept are great options as they do not look too corporate and can blend nicely into your holistic home office vibes.

setup ergonomic home-office my nordic studio
setup lightning home-office my nordic studio
3. Set the right light

Knowing the difference between good vs bad blue light and when it’s required to produce certain hormones like cortisol or melatonin throughout your day is vital in creating a healthy home and work environment.

Quick fix

Nothing beats the positive effects of natural light and that´s how we best support our hormone function whilst working from home. Orientating the desk towards a window that overlooks nature is a great start. The natural light will signal to the brain to be awake and functioning whilst looking out the window every hour, particularly onto nature, is a perfect resting point for the eyes.

To minimize eye strain even further, Low-level and glare-free ambient lighting offers the best overhead illumination for working on your computer. Tone down excessive or intense ceiling lights by removing some of the light bulbs or fluorescent tubes from existing light fixtures or opt for replacing high-wattage bulbs for low-level replacements. decreasing the clarity of your screen images. Choose a low-glare, adjustable desk lamp, such as a bendable gooseneck lamp, that allows you to easily alter the light path. Place the desk lamp to the side of your computer screen to ensure the light shines on your working papers instead of the computer monitor.

Don’t overlook your computer monitor’s backlight when creating the best lighting design for doing computer work. By adjusting your computer screen’s brightness display setting, you can help reduce possible eye strain or fatigue. Fine-tune the brightness of the display so it’s equal to the illumination in your home office. For example, pull up a web page on your computer and look at the white background. If the white appears as if it is an actual light source, your backlight is too bright. On the other hand, if the background looks dull and gray, the display light is too dim.

I recommend installing software that reduces the ‘bad’ blue light and flicker emitted from our screens. This flicker is not visible to the eye and can cause severe eye strain and headaches over a prolonged period of time. Unfortunately, our monitors are not the only thing that emit bad blue light, the LED globes in our lighting do too. As a compromise we would recommend fitting any existing task light with an LED globe that has customisable temperature control so that the light being emitted from you task lighting mimics the sun.

Flux software is free to download and adapts to all timezones so the colour of your screen will adapt accordingly to nature’s clock.

Long term investment

Iris takes things to the next level. It decreases the amount of blue light emitted from the screen and allows users to control the brightness without the flicker. Alternatively, if you are really concerned about flicker then special monitors can be purchased with flicker free technology. Here you can find Productview.

4. Breathe in some good air

Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Increase ventilation by throwing open the windows, this reduces moisture levels and allows stale indoor air and heating systems to circulate better.

Quick fix

Open the window for 15-20mins every few hours and set an alarm for it. This gets the fresh air circulating, which is essential, especially if you’ve been cooking your lunch with gas close by as this release toxic nitrogen dioxide.

Long term investment

An air purifier on its own does not reduce air pollution adequately, however combining it with opening the windows as well as regular cleaning with eco-friendly cleaning products will make a huge difference. Make sure the air purifier has a HEPA filter system which ensures the removal of smaller particles. Alternatively, for a natural solution plants like English Ivy are great positioned near computers and printers as they assist in purifying the air by absorbing toxins like ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene.

5. Go with Marie Kondo – declutter the space

Here we like to put our Marie Kondo hats on and encourage the elimination of clutter to make space for the work that really matters. The key philosophy is to be a little bit more introspective and consider what items are actually needed to have a productive day. Surrounding yourself with clutter and mess will contribute to a feeling of disorder and anxiety, even if it is on a subconscious level. So, make sure you have sufficient storage to hide away your work life in order to switch off better in the evenings.

Quick fix

Consider all of the items surrounding your workspace and ask the question whether they are required to fulfil your workday potential. This can range from a notepad and pen to a piece of art that you find restful to look at. Remember to commit yourself to tidying up, do a little bit each day to prevent the mess from snowballing and becoming an unbearable task.

Long term investment

16 boxes a Berlin company creating sustainable and minimalist furniture storage which is perfect for those who like flexibility.

Kartotek a Danish design and stationery brand who produces probably the most beautifully simplistic pieces. They are very conscious with their suppliers to ensure earth friendly production.

6. Give me a break!

If you are like me, you can easily dive in to your work and just forget to take breaks. Or you are back to back Zoom-meetings and you sit like 4 hours straight without even noticing it.

How you sit when you’re working is important but making sure you’re not stuck in that position for too long is crucial, too. Even if you’re working in a perfectly ergonomic position, you’re going to get tired. Even if you have a chair with good lumbar support, you still have to use your stomach muscles and remind yourself to not slump over. If you find yourself sitting in a very contorted manner, it probably means that your stomach muscles and upper-back muscles, which help you sit upright, are tired.

So, never underestimate the power of little breaks! At Home-office you have a great opportunity to step away from the table. In between sets of meetings, take a little longer tour to get coffee, do a few sit-up’s or pushups or lunges’…anything that makes your blood flow again, especially in your pelvis and shoulders, and make sure that your muscles have a chance to move.  (Psst….if you happened to be in Helsinki, in this blogpost are some places to have a really lovely coffee-break! )

Interior design holistic and ergonomic home-office

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Ever sat down and tried to figure out the best Home-Office setup for you? What was the most interesting thing you learned I´d love to hear about it in the comments.

Yours sincerely,
My Nordic Studio Blog by Piritta