Working from home is often a combination of comfort and chaos.
“Where people spend their time really matters,” says Matthew A. Finn, founder of Cognitive Design in Atlanta. “It makes a big difference in your quality of life … and it really influences your behavior and your health.”
Finn’s architectural work is influenced by the time he spent collaborating with a clinical psychologist to design therapeutic spaces for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This experience was very eye-opening for me,” says Finn. “It fundamentally changed the way I approach conception to promote health.”
Here are its recommended essentials that can help reduce chaos and increase the comfort of working from home.
Your work from home setup
Finn says your home office doesn’t have to look like an office inside your house.
“You can work from home or – the negative version of this is – you live at your office,” he says.
Its guiding principles for a more productive work environment include:
1. Sit / stand desk
If you’re looking to invest in long-term comfort, Steelcase offers high-quality desks and chairs through a partnership with West Elm.
2. Height adjustable monitor
Since monitors are often placed too low on a stationary or sit / stand desk, a height-adjustable monitor is essential, says Finn. He owns Knoll Sapper XYZ monitor arm in her Atlanta office and a simple adjustable monitor base in her work-from-home setup.
3. Controlled lighting
A well-lit environment helps focus and attention, while relieving eye strain, says Finn. Natural light is best, so work near a window if possible. However, glare can be a problem, so you can use curtains or blinds to adjust your lighting throughout the workday.
He prefers wooden blinds with wide slats to adjust to the glare, sheer curtains for privacy, and blackout curtains for total light blocking.
In the late afternoon and evening, he suggests using night mode on your computer (the Windows or Mac) to reduce blue light, which can disrupt circadian rhythms that improve the transition to sleep. It also uses dimmers with dimmable warm light LED bulbs throughout her home to adjust light levels from day to night, from brightest to dimmer.
4. Sound cancellation
Sound can interrupt the concentration of some people. Finn suggests Bose sleepbuds, which generate a variety of white noise and can be worn comfortably throughout the working day, or of course, at night. Or, you could have a pair of foam earplugs on hand that cost less than a dollar.
You can also use sound-absorbing materials to calm your working environment from children, TVs in the next room, or outdoor mowers and blowers. There are apps for doors and the Windows.
5. Basic information about video calls
For required video calls, Finn recommends an appropriate background, real or virtual, that “looks” like your work role. He says it falls under the realm of “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have”.
6. A comfortable temperature
If you’ve ever worked in a freezing – or stuffy – office, you know how temperature can affect your mood and focus. Rather than cooling or heating your whole house, you can change the temperature of the room where you are working with something similar to a Dyson Hot + Cool portable radiator / cooler. A portable fan or heater would also work.
Humidifiers or dehumidifiers, depending on where you live, can also improve comfort. And air filters and plants can help freshen the air.
Food and drink
We all miss hanging out in the coffee break room or swapping stories by the water cooler, and Finn says these rituals are worth keeping, in one form or another. In addition to nourishing your body, food and drink can be part of a daily routine to help focus and provide scheduled breaks from the computer.
Water filters provide clean, healthy water for hydration. If it’s convenient and tastes good, you’re likely to drink the amount of water your body needs, he says.
“The responsibility of working from home is that your day is very unstructured,” says Finn. Having rituals that transition from being home to work can help. For example, grinding and brewing a cup of coffee forces you to take a break and savor the moment – and quit multitasking.
Cooking lunch from scratch and sharing it with family or friends can be another ritual that keeps you from slipping into an unstructured and unhealthy always working lifestyle.
Finn says his suggestions can help manage health by changing your environment, but adds:
“There is a real temptation to focus too much attention on the ‘things’ and especially the ‘things that you don’t have’ to the point that it ruins something as simply pleasant as a morning coffee ritual. with family.”