This article gives you some useful tips on how to set up your own home office optimally. We show you which common mistakes are made when setting up a home office and how working in a home office can be organised in a healthier way.

If you work from home, not only is a high level of self-organisation necessary, but also the set-up of a home office is very important. In addition to the technical equipment, the atmosphere in your home office should be adequate so that you can work efficiently, concentrated and without disturbances. But let’s take a look together at what you should pay attention to when setting up your home office.

Setting up a home office – what should you look out for?

If you want to set up your home office, you should consider the following:

  • Your home office should be a separate room and have a lockable door (important if you want to claim the costs for your home office from the tax office)
  • You need sufficient electricity as well as telephone and internet connections in your home office
  • Sufficient space – at least 10m² is recommended for a home office
  • You should set up your home office in a quiet, distraction-free room
  • Your home office should have daylight

Setting up a home office – what do you need?

The following items are necessary when setting up your home office:

  • Every home office needs a desk – ideally adjustable in height, with no glass top and at least 160×80 cm in size
  • An office chair that can be adjusted to your needs
  • Of course, a computer including keyboard and mouse
  • A monitor – at least 22, better 24 inches (even better is using two monitors)
  • If you use a notebook, we recommend an additional notebook stand or docking station
  • A printer with scanning function
  • Storage space for documents (filing cabinet or mobile pedestal)
  • Headset and webcam for video conferences
  • Plants and other decorativ items

Where should the desk be placed in the home office?

Home-Office einrichten: Wir empfehlen, den Schreibtisch seitlich neben das Fenster zu stellen

Set up a home office: We recommend placing the desk at an angle of 90 degrees next to the window. This way, you do not have to look permanently into the light which in turn protects your eyes.

Probably the most common mistake made when setting up a home office is to place the desk directly in front of the window.

If you place the desk in such a way that you have a direct view towards the window, you will face significant problems. This also applies if the window is directly in your back.

If you sit in front of the window, your eyes are exposed to a high-contrast situation that reduces your concentration and can even cause headaches. If you sit with your back to the window, you will have problems with reflections on the screen. This means that your eyes have to work really hard. The consequences are teary, dry eyes, headaches, and exhaustion.

It is better to place the desk next to the window when working from home. On the one hand, this ensures optimal lighting conditions when working at the screen, and on the other hand, it allows you to look outside the window from time to time.

An extra tip for setting up a desk in your home office: Left-handers should place the desk on the left of the window, right-handers on the right. This ensures that no annoying shadows are cast on the documents when doing handwritten work at the desk.

Once you have found the right position for your desk, you should adjust the height to suit you. You can read more about how to do this and what the proper desk height is here. Good to know: the ideal desk height can be found very quickly when combined with a proper home office chair.

Which office chair suits the home office?

Home-Office einrichten: Wer viel sitzt, braucht einen guten Bürostuhl

A appropriate office chair is part of a home office setup. / Picture: Lumina Images / fotolia.com

A tip in advance: When choosing your office chair, make sure that you do not buy a chair that is only suitable for a short duration of sitting. Usually, these are inexpensive models for less than €100.

Be careful if you have carpet, vinyl, or linoleum flooring in your home office. Because then you should buy a chair that has hard castors. If you have tiles, laminate, parquet or click vinyl, soft castors are the right choice.

If you plan to work from home for more than two hours, your office chair should be equipped with at least a tilting mechanism, but a synchronised mechanism is preferable. Armrests help to relieve the strain on your shoulders during long working days. Chairs with a lumbar support are also useful if you have problems in the lumbar region more often.

You are sitting correctly, if you can let your upper arms hang loosely and make sure that your lower arms are resting on the armrests. If you use the keyboard in this position, your upper and lower arms should form a right angle. If this is not the case, you need to lower or raise your office chair. Your lower and upper legs should also form at least a 90-degree angle when sitting. In addition, make sure that your back is resting directly against the backrest of the chair.

Which monitor is best to use?

For most efficient work in the home office, we recommend using two screens, each 24 inches in size. This way you can quickly switch between programmes, video conferences are easier and synchronising digitised documents becomes super simple.

If you are using a notebook, you can also connect it to the screen via an HDMI cable or with the help of a docking station

What do you have to look out for when it comes to lighting?

Wer bei der Home-Office-Einrichtung die richtige Beleuchtung missachtet, der wird immer wieder unter Augen- und Kopfschmerzen leiden. / Foto: sebra / fotolia.com

If you disregard the appropriate lighting when setting up your home office, you will suffer from eye pain and headaches on a regular basis. / Picture: sebra / fotolia.com

Yes, lighting also plays an important role in setting up a home office. If you neglect the lighting, you will quickly feel uncomfortable at your new home office. Energy-saving LED lamps that imitate daylight and a desk lamp are recommended if you do a lot of handwriting. Of course, work is better in a room that is flooded with light. Therefore, your home office should also let in daylight through the windows.

Mistakes and risks when setting up a home office

To avoid making typical mistakes when setting up your home office, we would like to briefly list them for you:

  • Home office is not spatially separated from the flat – this will ensure that you are regularly distracted from work!
  • You are using the dining table as your workspace – This will inevitably lead to poor sitting posture!
  • You sit on a kitchen chair – In that case, your back will certainly hurt after a long working day!
  • You choose a room that is too small and a small desk – No one wants to work in a sardine tin. There must be space for documents and papers!
  • The room has hardly any daylight – you might want to avoid the room gradually because you don’t feel comfortable there!
  • There is a TV inside the room – it’ s a distraction, especially if family members are watching TV while you are working!
Home-Office: feste Arbeitszeiten helfen. / Foto: undrey / fotolia.com

Working from home: Having fixed working hours will help you to work structured. / Picture: undrey / fotolia.com

And by the way some employers may cover the costs of furnishing your home office. In this case, however, you should treat the new furnishings with care.

Conclusion: Setting up a home office

Even though you may face a few challenges at the beginning, you can benefit a lot when working from home. However, the proper set-up is crucial for this.

Don’t forget to include your family in the planning and make clear that when you are working from home, it does not mean that you are available to everyone 24/7. The maximum working hours set by law also apply within your home.

The post "Setting up your place to work from home: the basics of working ergonomically" written by:

Sophie Voigtländer

Expertin für Bürogestaltung und Ergonomie

Sophie joined deskonia at the beginning of 2021. Since then, she is mainly responsible for translating all kinds of texts into English.

She studied International Communication and Translation.

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