An AV Expert's Guide to Working From Home
It’s no secret that working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult adjustment for many people. Since many businesses are extending work from home policies for the foreseeable future, it is crucial to make sure that your home workspace is not only comfortable but allows you to work efficiently and remain productive amid this chaos. Here are some tips from our AV / Collaboration team on how to upgrade your workspace at home and feel like you are back in your office.
Your desk setup is one of the most important things to prioritize while working from home. If you are using more screens than just your laptop, it is essential to invest in quality PC screens if your company does not provide one for you. When it comes to screen placement, it is recommended that your eye level while seated is even with the top of your monitors. This helps reduce neck strain from looking up or down at a screen throughout the day. You will also want to make sure that your desk area is large enough to accommodate any level of multi-tasking that you may require. Being able to spread out and feel relaxed will help you remain focused during the day. Finally, ensure that your chair is sturdy and supportive. We all know how painful it can be when sitting all day, so make sure that you have a comfortable chair that supports your posture.
Whether you are working at a dining room table or a private home office, lighting plays an important role in productivity levels. Having plenty of light in your area is vital and natural light is a great option if it’s available. If you are working in an office with little to no natural light, such as a basement, make sure you have lighting with levels from 3500 – 5000 Kelvin. Higher levels have more blue light which can cause eye strain and lower levels will make you tired earlier in the day. Having dimmers on your light switches is a great option. Also, make sure to have some sort of light behind your monitors. This will help reduce fatigue and will provide plenty of light, so your monitors aren’t on the highest brightness setting. If some of these options aren’t available to you, you can invest in blue light blocking glasses. Having grown in popularity over the past couple of years, these glasses come in hundreds of sizes and styles and you can even buy some customized to your prescription if you have prescription contacts or lenses. These are a great solution and can reduce the strain on your eyes caused by blue light, thus reducing eye pain, headaches, and fatigue.
If you live with roommates or your family and have multiple people working from home, you will understand how important it is to find a quiet space. While that may be challenging, there are plenty of solutions when it comes to blocking out noise or using speakers or using headphones.
To start, if you are in a room with hardwood floors and other hard surfaces, you may find that there are more echoes. One simple solution is to add curtains, canvas prints, and area rugs to hardwood floors. These will help absorb the sounds and stop it from travelling around the room. If you are using a home office for the foreseeable future, it is worth it to think about investing in all-in-one acoustic room kits. These kits are easy to install and while they won’t keep the sound out of the room, they will make you sound much clearer on calls and eliminate unwanted echoes that would have travelled outside of your room, possibly disturbing someone else’s work. So, how do you stop your sound from leaving the room? This can get pretty complicated, but there are three simple solutions that you can utilize:
If you have a large gap under your door, try to block off that gap. You can use a folded towel or go one step further and buy a barrier that screws to the bottom of the door. These can be found at hardware stores or basic retailers such as Target or Walmart.
Adding mass and density to a room can quickly stop sounds and vibrations. Adding weighted blankets to doors and walls is a simple, quick fix. If you are looking for a more permanent solution, you can add Dynamat to a noisy HVAC system that rattles when it turns on or off. This can be applied to the interior or exterior of the vent line, but the exterior is better if possible.
Isolating noisy items from the structure of your home is another easy way to help reduce noise. If there are home theater speakers, subwoofers, or a washer / dryer system in the rooms adjacent to your workspace, consider putting those items on isolation pads. These pads help absorb the sound and vibrations and prevent it from traveling into your workspace.
Microphones, headphones, and speakers are also very important when it comes to a successful home workspace. If you can, using a directional microphone is best as it will only capture your voice and pick up less of the background noise. If you are using this type of microphone, place it up and off of the desk and keep it within 6-12 inches of your mouth. The closer it is to your mouth, the less sensitive it has to be. However, many headphones these days come with a built-in microphone, so a directional microphone is not absolutely necessary. Many benefits come along with using headphones, both wireless and wired. Not only do headphones block out the noise from your computer so you don’t disturb anyone else in the home, but many of today’s options come with a microphone and clear sound quality. Wireless headphones can even connect to your computer and smartphone simultaneously allowing ease of transfer from one device to the other. When it comes to purchasing headphones for work, noise cancelling may seem like the best option, but is important to note that these types of headphones were designed to keep noise out. So, if you are on a call, just because you can’t hear the background noise doesn’t mean that everyone else can’t. Finally, speakers can be a great option if you have a fully private home office. Headphones can become uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time, so using external speakers can be more comfortable and can help reduce long-term hearing damage that can result from prolonged headphone usage. All of this comes down to personal preference, but there are plenty of options that will allow you to find what fits best with your lifestyle and your workspace!
Finally, and this is not technology-related, exercise plays a large role in productivity levels. When you are working from home, you can find yourself staying at your desk for longer periods of time. You aren’t walking to meetings or talking with other team members, so it is important to break up the day and get up and move around. This could mean just standing for a few minutes every hour or walking around the house or neighborhood while taking a call. Finding anything that you can fit into your day will not only help your physical health, but it will help your mental health and productivity as well.
There are plenty of challenges that come along with working from home, but we are all in this together! Click here to learn more about ZeroDay and our services.