Ergonomics in the home office

Have you set up your home office yet?

Home Office guide: legal, equipment and useful tips

  • Supply and demand for home office equipment have been increasing consistently over the years
  • The coronavirus and the accompanying social distancing measures are accelerating the trend
  • Which structures can help you work efficiently from home?

    Is working from home a panacea?

    For many employees and freelancers, their own four walls are now their workplaces, whether it’s already standard practice or new due to the latest measures to prevent the pandemic spreading. If you follow a few rules, you can even be more efficient at home than at work – learn how here!

    Advantages of working from home:
    • No commute
    • Better concentration than in (open-plan) offices
    • More flexible work-life balance

    Disadvantages of working from home:
    • No clear separation of work from leisure
    • Potential distraction by family members
    • Lack of direct coordination with colleagues

    Setting up a home office – the equipment is key

    Home offices come in many different shapes and sizes – from a small corner nook to a whole separate room for work. You can even work using your kitchen or living room table, though it would be better to separate your work and leisure areas is clearly. So it makes sense to have a dedicated workspace, one that meets the ergonomic requirements if possible.
    • Technology: Of course, you cannot work remotely without a telephone and Internet access. Various communication and project management tools are also useful.
    • Environmental influences: Light, temperature and noise levels are also important factors when it comes to working productively. Light conditions, in particular, are not up to the minimum standards, which is why a good desktop lamp can help protect your eyesight and well-being.
      More about the perfect working environment >>
    • Desk: (Multi-)functional products are especially sought-after for small workspaces. Following the clean desk principle is also a good way to maintain mental clarity. Smart products can help:

    Working from home: a legal perspective

    Even when working from home, the employer-employee relationship still applies, as do the corresponding rights and duties. Examples of these principles include:
    • Mutual decisions: The employee and employer must mutually agree to relocate the workplace from the office to the home.
    • Mandatory breaks: A break of at least 30 minutes is required when working for more than six hours.
    • Availability: The employee must be available during the agreed working hours; they do not have to be available in their free time.

      Home Office Guide - Tips for your organisation

      What is the best way to start the day?

      Regular morning routine: Start every working day at roughly the same time (give or take 15 minutes). That helps you maintain a rhythm and your team can get used to your availability.

      How do you stay focused when working from home?

      Fresh air and exercise: Get some fresh air before you start work. Taking a walk around the block, or a quick bike ride are all good ways to start and help you concentrate throughout the day.

      Are you entitled to a lunch break when working from home?

      Lunch breaks: Of course we all know that we should take a lunch break. However, the sheer level of stress often makes us forget this. You should consciously take the time for a break and try to do so at your usual time when working in the office. It is important that you move into a different room for your break and do not take your phone with you. Let your team know that you are on a break and not available for the duration. You could also forward your calls to a colleague who is not on a break. Lunch breaks are also a good time to get a breath of fresh air.

      How do you exercise when working from home?

      Get up and move about often: Even if you are engrossed in your work, it is important to stand up and move about regularly. Aim for roughly 5 minutes per hour. You could treat phone calls as an opportunity to walk around your apartment. Do not forget to stay hydrated; grab a hot or cold drink from the kitchen at regular intervals.

      How do you set up an ergonomic workstation?

      It takes more than a laptop to make a home office: Ideally, you should take a monitor from the office and set it up at home. That not only reduces the strain on your neck and back, it also lets you work more efficiently.

      Where is the best place to set up your home office?

      Find a comfortable place: Ergonomic chairs are ideal, but few of us have office chairs at home. Use a chair with a backrest and try to sit in an upright and comfortable position at the table at all times. Please do not work from bed. While it may seem very comfortable for the first half an hour, it will strain your back in the long term and kill your motivation. Further tips for an ergonomic workplace >>

      How do you stay in touch with your colleagues?

      Resolve issues by phone: There are some things you would normally simply discuss in person with your colleagues or co-workers. Do not write e-mails about them; call the person or organise a video conference. That makes it easier to avoid misunderstandings and helps maintain the vital personal contact between colleagues.   

      How can I switch off after work?

      Develop an evening routine: Many have problems getting out of ‘work mode’ at the end of the day when working from home. Developing an evening routine can help solve this. It is important to set a time when you want to finish work. Switch off your computer and close the door to your office, if you have one. After work is another good time to get some fresh air. You could relax on your balcony or go for a walk. Sports can also help you clear your head and reduce your stress levels.

      How can you work from home effectively when your family is there?

      Set up rules: Most people are not alone at home during their working hours. As a result, it helps to agree upon a set of rules with your family or the people you live with so that you can work without disruptions. For example, a closed door can mean ‘Do not disturb’.

      How can you comply with data privacy when working from home?

      Data privacy regulations still apply when working from home: Of course, you are subject to the same data privacy laws when working at home and in the office. Do not leave documents lying around openly at home, and lock your computer when you leave your workplace. You should not make confidential calls in front of your family or the people you live with.

      What is the best way to work at home?

      Find your own way: Some people find it important to get ready every morning as though they were commuting to work, so they feel like they are going to work rather than sitting at home. Others prefer a comfortable outfit. Some find it easier to ignore distractions than others. You could talk to your colleagues to learn how they are handling the situation. However, everyone has to find their own way; a situation they feel most comfortable with. Set yourself the rules you think you need and try to stick to them. If you miss personal communication with your colleagues, then organise a coffee break video call, to talk to them about various things, just like you would at work.