Job & Career

7 requirements for the perfect home office

To successfully work from home, there are various factors to consider. Here are the key requirements.

13 Jan. 2016 Melanie Petersen
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Discuss when interruptions are permitted and when not with your partner and children in advance (photo: Shutterstock)

Peace and quiet

It is important to ensure that your home office is sufficiently quiet. The ideal space is a separate room with a door that shuts to prevent interruptions when making phone calls or when you are 'in the zone'. If it is not possible to use a separate room, it is beneficial to demarcate the space using shelving or a partition wall, for example.

If you have a family, it is advisable to discuss some ground rules. There is a risk of being interrupted every few minutes when working from home, particularly if there are children around. Be sure to clearly communicate when interruptions are permitted and when you definitely do not wish to be disturbed. With a separate room, for example, a closed door could mean that you must not be disturbed. Alternatively, there may be a certain time of the day (mornings or afternoons) when you are off-limits.

The right equipment

Your home office must be equipped with everything you need to work productively. A wireless internet connection is now standard. To ensure that a phone line is always available, you should have a dedicated line for your home office. This also provides a separation between work and leisure on your days off.

To prevent chaos descending on your work room, make sure there is plenty of storage. Otherwise there is a risk that papers kept in the living area, even temporarily, will get mixed up with private documents or be lost.

Before getting down to design and organization, choose the office furniture such as the desk, chair and lamps. Make as few compromises as possible on these items.

Ergonomics

Take heed of ergonomic good practice in your home office. Even if your grandfather's beautiful wooden chair does fit well in the study and the furniture matches the room better, if the desk is positioned directly in front of the window, do bear in mind that you could be doing yourself long-term harm.

If you spend most of your working hours sitting down, make sure that your desk chair has plenty of adjustment options and promotes good posture . A height-adjustable desk that enables you to spend a couple of hours each day standing while you work can ease the strain on your back. Plenty of daylight is also recommended. Do not position the desk directly in front of the window, however, but rather parallel to it.

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Desk workers should adhere to a few rules to keep their back and eyes, etc. healthy (photo: Shutterstock)

Key factors in workplace ergonomics according to the AOK , one of the largest providers of statutory health insurance in Germany:

Desk chair

  • Seat height: approximately hollow of the knee height
  • Seat depth: firm contact with the backrest and also the width of at least two fingers between the front edge of the seat and the hollow of the knee
  • Armrests: the armrests should be above the seat at approximately elbow height
  • Backrest height: the curved part should be in line with lumbar area (approximately belt height)
  • Backrest settings: the backrest should support the back in all positions and respond to upper body movement

Desk

  • Suitable height: 72 cm
  • Minimum working area: 160 cm x 80 cm
  • Place devices such as printers that cause vibrations on a separate table
  • Sufficient legroom
  • Low-glare surface
  • Tilting if required

Environment

  • The ideal room temperature for seated work is approximately 22° C at a humidity of around 50 percent.

A key factor in the home office: your monitor

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There are plenty of things to think about when it comes to choosing and setting up a monitor in your home office (photo: Shutterstock)

The German Society for Work and Ergonomics recommends various measures to prevent eye problems caused by screen work :

  • Optimum lighting conditions range between 400 and 600 lux. High levels of contrast between the screen brightness and ambient light should be avoided.
  • Ideally the workstation should be illuminated by daylight with the line of sight to the screen running as parallel to the window as possible.
  • Anything that casts bright reflections on the screen or desk is to be avoided. This is because it may cause short-sightedness in one eye if only one eye can see clearly and the other is regularly dazzled by glare.
  • LCD flat screens are recommended because they feature low reflection, low radiation and do not flicker.
  • Make sure the screen offers good contrast to boost clarity of vision.
  • For relaxed working, the distance between your eyes and the screen should be between 50 and 70 centimeters.
  • Many problems can be avoided by having your eyes tested regularly.
  • Always wear any vision correction (glasses/contacts) you have been prescribed as instructed.

Lighting

As previously mentioned, utilize daylight as much as possible. Extra lighting will be required in most months. To protect your eyes, lighting should be bright but not too glaring. Ceiling lights emitting a soft light are the most suitable for a workspace. Place an adjustable lamp on the desk for spotlighting. It is important that light sources are flicker-free. This will also reduce direct and reflected glare.

Well-being

Your workspace should include a personal touch. After all, this is one of the nicest things about working from home. Do however make sure that the room is not too cluttered. First, accommodate all documents and work equipment. Everything else is then up to you.

Potted plants create a homely feel and bring greenery into the space. As an added benefit, plants improve air quality.

Taking Breaks

It is worth including somewhere to relax in your workspace such as a sofa or comfortable armchair. Although you have the option of going into the living area, there is a risk of being distracted. If you are easily distracted, consider creating a quiet place in your home office. The more disciplined among you may forgo this.

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