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Your Home Office Is Harming Your Quality of Life — Here’s How to Fix That

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the onset of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, we suddenly had to adapt our living spaces to create makeshift home offices. Today, 30% of Americans are still working either remotely or on a hybrid schedule. But how many of us have taken the time to ensure that our workspace enables us to do our best work — or to ensure it’s even safe?

Your home work environment should be a well-designed space that ensures healthy, productive behavior. If you haven’t attempted to set up a clearly established home office, chances are your work-life balance is suffering.

Related: How to Build an Effective Home Office

How your home office may be harming your quality of life

How many of us roll out of bed, pull on a pair of sweatpants, sit down in a chair in the bedroom, kitchen or living room and allow our work to bleed into the rest of our lives?

Without setting clear boundaries — both physical and mental — we forget to say goodbye to our kids because we decide to respond to that one email that comes in at 7:30 a.m. Later in the day, a colleague sends a message at 8:00 p.m., and we choose to answer it rather than putting it off until the morning. We forget to shower or take lunch breaks.

The consequences are clear: If we don’t create a routine in the same way we would when going into an office every morning, our mental health deteriorates.

There are major benefits to working from home, particularly if you suffer from anxiety or are treated poorly in an office environment by superiors. Having the flexibility to work from home has also been a tremendous boon for families who can save time and money on child care. However, these benefits only work when we create clear boundaries and workable spaces. Thankfully, many of these can be achieved with little to no cost.

Related: How to Perfect Your Home Office

How to create a healthy, productive home office

One of the simplest changes to make is with lighting. The best option is a room with a window that brings in natural light. If that’s not possible, look for lights that aren’t pure white — they tend to be harsh on the eyes and taxing on the brain. Avoid fluorescent white lights that are often found in hospitals and schools. They’re cold and sterile, ensuring only that people stay alert and focused.

To create a calm work environment, install lights that have a warm, yellow hue. Note that LED bulbs, while efficient, produce soft, cool light. Reduce hard shadows in your space by using top-down lights or floor lights that can be placed around baseboards.

You’re going to be sitting for long hours, so invest in an ergonomic chair that includes a footrest. Elevating your feet promotes good posture and reduces back pain. Consider a standing desk, which adjusts up and down. Take turns between sitting and standing during the day.

Place your desk, if possible, in the middle of the room where there is space on all sides, allowing you to get up and walk around unimpeded. That will give you a sense of freedom and a reminder to take breaks. Remember to go outside, take off your shoes and stand on the grass. Breathe.

Invest in two computer monitors, regardless of the type of work you do. They encourage you to move your neck throughout the day, and it’s also less stressful than working with a single monitor with multiple tabs open.

Do you have a separate room for your office? If so, close the door at the end of the day to delineate between work and home life. If not, create a nook or segmented space and one with good, even airflow — you want to make it easy to heat and cool the space.

High ceilings and long-range views will add to your mental well-being. Distant views are pleasing to the eye. It’s why our eyes get tired and sore if we sit too close to the television. High ceilings give us more space, making us feel happier and less anxious. Create a calm workspace cheaply by painting an accent wall with a pleasing color.

If you can afford it, invest in a skylight to bring in natural light, raise the ceiling or add aesthetically pleasing touches like crown molding or wainscoting. Still, you need little to create a healthy workspace.

The design of your office leads to the psychology of how you work. Smart, simple interior design helps you work better and more efficiently. You will experience a greater quality of life, and your employer’s bottom line will benefit as well. And while you may be hard-pressed to get your boss to pay for work-from-home upgrades, remember that a home office is a tax write-off.

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