Good Work Setup at Home



By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

As we slowly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, more students are doing remote internships and co-ops, or hybrid positions that combine work in an office with virtual interaction.  And, more newly minted college graduates are taking remote positions as their first entry-level job. That means an increasing need to address the work-at-home environment.  

An uncomfortable workspace can adversely impact productivity.  And any of us who have tried to work from a couch or while propped up in bed know that doesn’t work very well.  So, it is imperative that you have a good work setup at home for remote internships or jobs.

Your virtual workplace, if possible, should be a dedicated space that is set up to be distraction-free. You will want to be away from other household members, a TV, or other things that might interrupt or keep your attention diverted from the work that is at hand. 

Hopefully you have some kind of ergonomic desk and chair that allow you to work efficiently.  Poor posture can create a variety of muscular injuries, pain, and other health problems including headaches and vision issues. Adjust your chair so that you have good back support, your feet are on the floor, the keyboard is directly in front of you, and the screen is at eye level facing straight at you. Your wrists and forearms should be straight and parallel with the floor, elbows rested by the side of your body and at a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint.  

Don’t sit in this position too long. It’s important to get up and move for a few minutes every half hour. Long sessions at the keyboard not only can produce increasing tension in the body, staring at the screen for too long produces tremendous eye strain. 

Part of creating a good home work setup also involves other issues besides the physical environment.  You should have a structured routine in which you get ready for the work day as if you were going into the office.  Establish start and end times, set daily goals, and schedule a specific lunch break. When the work day is completed, put things away. And while it may be tempting, avoid going back online later to check on things - it can be easy to get sucked into the black hole of working or being on-call round-the-clock.

You also want to make sure that you don’t become isolated in your virtual work.  Some of the biggest problems reported by remote employees are collaboration, communication, and loneliness.   So, it’s vital to make a concerted effort to keep in touch with work colleagues and clients. Have scheduled communication and meetings on a regular basis with co-workers and ensure that you have contacts in place when you want to brainstorm or need help to solve a problem.  Be sure you are comfortable with the communication platform that is favored by your organization, whether that’s Teams, Slack, Zoom or a variety of other online tools that are commonly implemented.  

Virtual employment can be challenging, but an increasing number of people around the country find it to be a great way to work once you get into the swing of it.  More information about working at home can be found on this website.