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WEB DESIGN

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There was a time, not so long ago, when working from home felt aspirational. Design magazines showcased beautifully serene home offices; celebrities gave little glimpses of where they paid their bills; clutter magically vanished, and babies and pets stayed clean. It was a fantasy in which work and life ran on parallel tracks, each complementing the other perfectly.

AUTHOR

Simon Moore

Co-founder @ Pixel Together


Friday 3rd September 2021

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'Setting up a home office can be a chance to refine your work style, building your ideal space with creativity and imagination'

Needless to say, the reality looks more than a little different. The sudden transition to a work-from-home set-up means that many of us are scheduling Zooms around toddler naps, or have home school activities increasingly encroaching on our space. If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, it is often in the coldest, darkest room of the house; otherwise, you may be juggling meetings not just with your boss, but with your partner.

During the adjustment period, when work-from-home spaces were hastily set up, you may have repurposed furniture or made the best of a not-quite-perfect corner. In the need to make the best of the situation, a lot of people have let the idea of workplace health and safety go, but a safe, supportive, ergonomically sound home office is one of the best gifts you can give yourself right now.

Setting up a home office can be a chance to refine your work style, building your ideal space with creativity and imagination. There’s no need to replicate the office at home, so think hard about what works best for you, and make some of your more tangible work-from-home fantasies come true.

Image Credit: Ergonofis

Rethinking the desk

The idea of working in a single designated place makes sense in a larger office, but at home you might prefer to move around during the day. Maybe it’s a question of following the sun, or working around somebody else’s schedule; either way, think about how each location affects your posture, and what small interventions might make it more comfortable.

This could mean putting a footstool under the kitchen table, keeping a foldaway laptop stand by the sofa, or tucking a pillow in the small of your back. If you are sitting at a table, keep your wrists level with, or below, your elbows, and make sure there’s enough clearance for your knees.

If you have lower mobility and prefer working from your bed, a good-quality pregnancy pillow (or sitting pillow) coupled with an overbed table will ensure that your neck is not put at an uncomfortable angle.

If you prefer to switch between sitting and standing, then a flexible or hybrid desk might work best for you. These can be found inexpensively at big box stores, or bought as design pieces if they’re likely to stay out for a while; just make sure to adjust your keyboard and monitor to make sure that your standing posture is properly neutral.

'Contact with plant life has psychological benefits, reducing fatigue and creating a more pleasant atmosphere, as well as purifying the air'

To the extent that you’re able to, bring a few plants into your space. Contact with plant life has psychological benefits, reducing fatigue and creating a more pleasant atmosphere, as well as purifying the air. If you’re setting up a dedicated office, move a few of your favourite artworks in, so the space feels more like your own.

Lighting also has a huge impact on how you experience your space. Softly diffused natural lighting is ideal, but if you are in a low-light room or nook, consider switching the overhead lightbulb out for a lower wattage, and add a task lamp over your desk.

Screen brightness should be more or less on par with the brightness of the room; you can take a quick visual reading from looking at the white tone of a Word document and then glancing at a white wall. The closer these tones are aligned, the less eye fatigue you’ll have.

For Zoom calls, an inexpensive ring light is all you need to appear professionally lit on screen. Resist the temptation to place any more lighting behind your computer; you don’t want it shining in your eyes.

Bring in light and life

Image Credit: Mikey Harris

Invest in lasting pieces

Because many of the purchases involved in setting up a home office are tax-deductable, it’s worth considering where you can spend a bit extra in order to invest in quality. Inexpensive electronics are often unreliable, but a mid-range external monitor is worth the spend, given the impact it makes on workflow.


Some people find split keyboards more comfortable to use than standard keyboards; others swear by ergonomic mice. It’s important to note that the term ‘ergonomic’ is not associated with any Australian industry standards, and that qualified ergonomists stress the importance of treating each body individually. There really is no one-size-fits-all solution.


Most importantly, trained professionals stress that a workplace set-up is only one part of the equation. Taking breaks, stretching, and remembering to switch off and relax are all part of workplace health and safety, as are getting some sunshine and moving around. The fantasy, after all, is about maintaining healthy boundaries, so remember that you don’t actually live at work—no matter how beautiful your new office becomes.

'Make sure that you give feedback about the things that have worked as well as those that haven’t.'

Keep the lines of communication open

Finally, check in with client relationships as they develop, to ensure that you are still on the same page, and make sure that you give feedback about the things that have worked as well as those that haven’t.

“We have to constantly shape and mould our relationships like clay,” says Prince. “Respectfully letting people know when needs were met, as well as when they were not, allows you to learn to build a healthy, respectful relationship.

“Be prepared to hear the emotion and story behind another's boundary,” she adds. “This involves empathy and compromise. Building healthy relationships requires not only the giving of feedback and making of boundaries, but the willingness to be on the receiving end as well.”

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AUTHOR

Published: 

Friday 3rd September 2021

Co-founder @ Pixel Together

Simon Moore

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