The ergonomics of working from a home office

I’ve now been working from home for about 18 months.  On the whole I’m pretty impressed by the flexibility of this arrangement and I think I would hate to change back to a office.  However, I’ve still not got a proper working environment setup. Many times I find my self uncomfortable and unable to concentrate properly.

My office was created from the spare bedroom that was previously used as my computer room.  Not much changed really apart from a fax/printer was added, and a second Mac (in addition to Linux box and laptop). However, I’ve gone from spending a few hours in there to a significantly longer time.  My desk is an old oak one I’ve had for a long time. Whereas it’s a beautiful piece of furniture, it’s not the nicest of desks to spend time at.  The two drawer units are fairly close together and so limit how far apart you can place your legs. More importantly they limit the type of chair you can use.  Currently I just use an old fashioned ‘dining table’ chair.  It makes me sit upright, and slouch less.  It is also fairly uncomfortable and so it makes me get up and move about a lot.  Which is surely a good thing. Using a proper ‘desk type’ chair does not sit(!) well with my desk. The one I have will onlt fit under the desk at a certain angle (it has 5 wheels, and so needs to be rotated to allow 2 to fit between the drawer units). However, that seat does allow me to sit crosslegged which is fairly comfy for a while.

The desk’s size allows me to place 2 x 24″ widescreen monitors, AND my laptop on a stand.  Which is a fair amount of screen real estate. However, I find myself being more productive when I take the laptop and go sit outside or at the kitchen table.  Why is this?  Is the change of scenery beneficial to improving my concentration (e.g. less distractions), or is it my position at the desk which is mroe comfortable.

As I’m fairly close to moving house (well 75% sure) I’m considering what to do for my new office.  This will be in the garden and not an ex-bedroom, and I have a (20%) larger blank space to consider. For a desk I’m considering simply using a long worktop with nothing underneath. That way I can move about to my hearts content with whatever chair I want.  Even something as simple as the old ‘door on two stands” type desk. Although perhaps a long kitchen worktop set at desk height using some large brackets would be more aesthetically pleasing.  It might be even nice to get some of those expensive monitor mount arms to free up desk space!  The oak desk can then move into the house to be admired, and I can be more comfortable.

6 Replies to “The ergonomics of working from a home office”

  1. My study was prearranged when we moved in – there’s a desk with two parts and a proper desk chair that I can sit pretty much any way I want to in, but it can’t be too high to fit under the desk because it has arms. The main desk has one of those raised shelves that you put the monitor on, so that’s good for the desktop. There’s a also a lower, smaller desk that can fit under the main desk. I have it at 90 degrees to it. I use that to either put my laptop on or to write on. Notice the “or”. I just don’t have enough desk space. I could also do with some drawers somewhere, but there’s not really anywhere to put them.

    Ideally, I’d have a big long surface that wraps around a corner (on the inside!), with drawers and lots of shelving for books and files and stuff. It’d be brilliant!

  2. I’d really like one of those major war rooms with a 10 metre by 10 metre video screen, like in Wargames! Failing that a nice long desk like you say would work!

  3. I just admire anyone that can work from home. Never was that good at it!

Comments are closed.