There are so many great things about working from home … office puppies, a 30 second commute; trackies and PJs – need I say more?

While lots of people have the image of the small business owner working in front of the TV or from the sofa, the truth is that you’ll be so much more comfortable and productive if you work from a ‘proper’ workstation.

Setting up your home office means you can make sure it’s just right for you; so, here’s my top six tips to ensure that you are as comfortable and productive as possible …

1. Find a designated space

The first and most important thing to consider is location.  It’s important to create a designated space if you can, and ideally in a separate room.  A spare bedroom is perfect.  If you don’t have the luxury of a spare room, you may need to think more creatively … could you set it up in the corner of a larger room or in a nook under the stairs?

You want to find a space that’s out of the way, so it minimises distractions and helps you focus.  If you decide on the corner of a room, you could use a divider to create a more defined space and give you some privacy.  The important thing is to try to think outside the box and away from the kitchen bench or dining table. You want to have a space that you don’t have to pack up every night.

2. Spend Some Money on a Good Desk & Chair

Once you know where you’re going to put your desk, it’s time to consider the desk itself.

Do you want a sit-stand desk instead of a traditional one? The benefit here is the ability to alternate between sitting or standing throughout the day. This is a great option if you spend most of your work time at the computer.

It can be tempting to use a dining chair at your desk. This might work in the short term but it’s not a good long-term option. Choose a chair which is comfortable, but also provides adequate support.  It’s worth spending a little more money and investing in a good-quality ergonomic chair.  Make sure that it has adjustable height and seat, provides lower-back and lumbar support, and can tilt and roll.  Sitting at your desk you should be able to sit up straight, with your arms parallel to the ground.  If your feet don’t reach the floor in this position, invest in a footrest to help keep you in the right posture.

3. Is Your Monitor Set Up Correctly?

As well as the correct desk and chair height, it’s also important to think about the height of your monitor. If you work from a laptop, you can plug an external screen into it … please don’t work from your laptop for extended periods of time, it’s just so bad for your posture. I have a laptop stand which elevates my laptop screen when I’m not working at my desk.

Your monitor should be an arm’s length away from your face and the top of your screen should either be at eye level or slightly below it, so that your eyes look slightly downwards when you are looking at the middle of the screen.

4. Adequate Storage

Even though we mostly use digital files, you’ll probably still have some paperwork you need to keep, as well as office supplies to be stored.  The less clutter you have on your desk, the more likely you’ll be able to work more efficiently.

If you’re short on floor space, think about using wall space for storage, or pop a set of drawers under your desk.  Try to think outside the box if you’re short on space!

5. How’s Your Lighting?

This is so important, especially as poor lighting can cause eye strain and headaches.  Natural lighting helps to boost your mood and can help you to feel more productive. So, if you can, set up your home office near a window.

You should have sufficient lighting that you don’t need to squint when you’re working. If there isn’t enough light, consider getting some additional overhead lighting or pop a lamp on your desk.   Avoid placing it next to your monitor or in your field of vision as this can be worse for your eyes.

It’s also worth considering the brightness of your monitor.  Quite a lot of screens these days have an ‘eye saver mode’ … check your screen and switch it on if you have it (it removes the blue light!)

6. Now The Fun Part – Decorate!

Now that you have all the necessary items set up, you can think about things like art and plants.  Bring in some pieces to show off your personality … and remember plants have a dual purpose, not only do they look great – they also cleanse the air #winning

So there you have it … with some careful planning you can create a home office that is comfortable, functional and helps your productivity.

Check out this ergonomic checklist for more help setting up your workstation.