We all know that the home office is not a new invention. Yet, in 2020 it has become a major part of many people’s life and it has found space in almost every home. It’s no longer a concept exclusively relevant to the self-employed. Now ordinary wage-earners also have to deal with the fact that their home office requires some space in the home decor. Or that it lacks its proper space. This can be a challenge when space is tight and it’s not just a temporary solution.
There are also requirements for ergonomics in the home workplace
If your regular office space is well furnished with good ergonomic tools, it’s not a problem as such if you work from home a day or two a month, even if your tools at home are sparse. However, if on the other hand you make an agreement with your employer about working from home full-time or part-time on a non-strictly temporal basis, the same requirements apply for the home office as for the office in your workplace. This means that your employer must ensure the health, safety and welfare of its home workers. That includes arranging a workstation assessment of all display screen equipment users. However, employees also have some duties, which usually means that you will be the one carrying out the risk assessment with guidance from your employer.
We at Contour Design here present our idea of how the home office should be designed in 2020.
- The furniture must be suitable for the tasks. Many people work at the dining table, which can work all right if there’s enough space for all your IT equipment and there’s room for your legs under the table. You can get around the issue of not having a height-adjustable by standing up once in a while and e.g. placing your laptop on top of some books or an ironing board. However, it’s wise to have a chair that can be adjusted to several positions. If you don’t, the key word is still variation and you should therefore switch chair during the day
- You need good working light – daylight is especially important, but it shouldn’t dazzle. Invest in a good desk lamp with dimmer if necessary
- Make sure to ventilate during the day so that there’s plenty of oxygen in your home office
- If your primary work tool is a computer, there are several things you need to be aware of. Do you have an external monitor, an external keyboard and an external mouse? If not, start by asking your employer if such can be made available. Of the three, the keyboard and the mouse are the most important, as you e.g. with some thick books or a laptop stand can raise your laptop screen to your eye level. In that way, you relieve your neck and shoulder by not looking downwards as much. However, an external keyboard and an external mouse is a must, as your hands and arms will be way too angled if your laptop is raised. And like a cherry on top of the ergonomic home workplace, you could consider a centred mouse. This will relieve your usual "mouse arm", as you can use the mouse with both hands in front of your body. A RollerMouseRed is available in a wireless version that makes it easy to transport to and from the office
Financial legislation on the home office
It isn’t just in the field of health, safety and ergonomics that there are important rules regarding home working. There may also be financial benefits that you haven’t yet included in your economic calculations after you started working from home.
And for this topic we’ve also collected a couple of tips:
- If you have to work from home on a regular basis, you may be able to claim tax reliefs for some of the additional bills you’ll have to pay because you’re working from home. This could include business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity.
- Starting from the 6th of April 2020, your employer can now pay you up to £26 a month to cover your additional costs if you work from home and you won’t have to keep any records.
- You are also be able to claim tax relief on the full cost of equipment that you have to buy for your work if it qualifies for annual investment allowance (AIA). This generally includes computer equipment such as mouse and keyboard.
All in all there are in a fact a number of rules and requirements to consider when setting up a home office – physical as well as financial. Taking both aspects into account can ultimately have a quite positive impact on your working life. Now we all just have to get used to the new normal in everyday life.