Furnish and Equip Workroom Ergonomically

People who work from home usually have to furnish and equip their studies. A task that overwhelms some because numerous rules and regulations apply. Which lighting and which devices are the right ones? Find out here how to set up your home office optimally.

To work optimally, you need a good atmosphere and the right lighting
To work optimally, you need a good atmosphere and the right lighting.
Photo: blp/living4media / Chiaratti, Ilaria

Especially when setting up a workstation with a computer, it is worthwhile to implement occupational safety regulations and ergonomic guidelines at home. Computer workplaces have high demands on the eyes, among other things: the gaze constantly switches back and forth between the screen, keyboard, and desk. Therefore, pay attention to the correct lighting of your office. Otherwise, headaches, posture problems, and fatigue could be the result. As far as the technical equipment of your workroom is concerned, you can find tips and ideas here on which devices you should get.

What Are the Regulations When Setting Up a Vdu Workstation?

The same requirements apply to workstations in your four walls and company offices. Binding guidance is provided by the VDU workplace ordinance and DIN 5035 “Lighting with artificial light”. The European standard EN 12464-1, “Lighting of indoor workplaces,” stipulates that 300 lux illuminance is sufficient for simple office activities such as filing or copying. Anyone reading, writing, or working at a computer screen needs at least 500 lux.

The Euro standard also stipulates that an electrical specialist must regularly check and maintain the lighting system in the workroom. The background is safety in the workplace and the economical use of electrical energy. Specialist electrical companies offer their customers appropriate efficiency tests. Those who choose to do so can achieve significant financial benefits – according to the experience of the specialist companies.

And what about the cost of home office lighting? “Many employers provide a subsidy. Self-employed people can deduct the lights from their taxes,” knows interior designer Fritz Lechner.

What is the right lighting in the study?

When selecting and installing luminaires in their study, it is essential that the light does not dazzle and is not reflected by the screen. The Fördergemeinschaft Gutes Licht (FGL) recommends indirect lighting as an alternative to direct ceiling or dimmed luminaires.

Ceiling wash lights or uplights in the form of a wall or floor luminaire are a good choice for this purpose. It is important that the light comes exclusively from above and does not dazzle.

The work surface at the desk should be illuminated by a rotatable and swiveling luminaire with a reflector; it directs the light where it is needed. The luminaire should be flexible enough to allow left- and right-handed people to work without shadows.

Illuminate without dazzling

The lighting in the study must ensure two things: illuminate the work surface optimally and with pinpoint accuracy and illuminate the room evenly. For this purpose, interior designer Fritz Lechner recommends “special pendant luminaires for mounting on the ceiling or floor luminaires arranged at the side next to the desk.” He also points to the newly developed Eldacon micro prismatic technology, which brightly illuminates the workplace without glaring or blinding. “And it saves energy,” emphasizes the Munich-based interior designer, because “modern fluorescent tubes produce light instead of heat.”

Combining daylight and artificial light

In the search for the optimal lighting design, the savings aspect is of central importance. After all, permanent lighting can run into money. According to Lechner, a combination of daylight and artificial light is most effective – a variant that is particularly suitable for desks near windows in the study.

The trick: intelligent luminaires regulate the necessary amount of light independently and switch off automatically as soon as the room leaves- saving energy and money.

Another example of innovative and economical lighting technology is the slim three-band fluorescent lamps (16 millimeters in diameter), operated with electronic control gear (ECG) and are dimmable. This system saves up to 25 percent energy compared with conventional three-band fluorescent lamps (26 millimeters plus ECG).

It's best to combine natural and artificial light in your study
It’s best to combine natural and artificial light in your study.
Photo: iStock/Poike

How to Properly Equip a Study?

It is not so simple to properly equip his study and provide it with all the necessary equipment. In the office, there was a separate device for each function. Space and money didn’t matter – and if you were stuck, you called the system administrator. All this can become a problem in the home office. Therefore, focus on a few essential and high-quality products.

Answering machine

An answering machine is also a must in a home office. Modern telephone systems usually offer integrated voice recording, and almost all telephone providers now also offer a cloud-based voicemail box. Others alert you to a call via SMS or e-mail or send a recording, also in the form of an e-mail, to your laptop – this allows you to retrieve important messages from anywhere. Another option is to have calls received via landline forwarded to your cell phone. This service usually costs nothing extra if you have a cell phone plan with a so-called “voice flat rate”.

Fax

E-mail has increasingly replaced the fax machine. Therefore, think carefully about how often you send or receive faxes. A much cheaper alternative is to scan documents and send them digitally simply. Another advantage of this option is that the documents are archived and stored on your PC simultaneously. As a pure fax receiver, you can purchase a phone with an integrated fax function. Incoming faxes are automatically digitized as PDF files and sent to you by e-mail.

Scanner

A scanner is necessary to scan paper documents digitally. However, the purchase of a separate device is no longer mandatory nowadays. Now, multifunction devices on the market can fax, scan, copy, print, and create photos. They are either connected directly to the computer via a cable connection or can be linked wirelessly via WLAN or Bluetooth. Apps are also available for mobile devices such as tablets, with which documents can be scanned easily and conveniently.

Printer

What can’t be missing when setting up a workroom is a printer. Put your money to good use and get – as mentioned above – a modern multifunction device. For one thing, it saves space, and for another, it only needs to be set up once. It also eliminates the need for time-consuming wiring of multiple devices. After that, it is available for a wide range of tasks. The only drawback is that if a function requires repair, all the services the device has to offer are immediately lost. However, understanding service providers will lend you a replacement device for emergencies.

Laptop or Stationary PC?

A laptop is also the first choice if you are not often away from home for work. For the office, you only need to set up a docking station with a large screen and separate keyboard to work ergonomically. A stationary PC with a large keyboard and screen is only essential if your work often involves computationally intensive graphic activities such as CAD, image, video, or layout editing. In this case, purchasing a stationary computer is worthwhile, as it usually has a much higher computing power at a comparable price. In such cases, a second monitor is also useful.

Suppose you work at several workstations in different rooms but on the same floor. In that case, a wireless connection between computers and other technical devices, such as printers or scanners, is the easiest to implement – this also allows you to synchronize multiple PCs (or cell phones) so that you can access their address and calendar data from different devices, for example.

A direct connection of the individual components via a network cable is more energy-saving, faster, and more stable. In this case, the router also acts as a connecting element and forwards the data streams to the correct end devices. If you use a stationary server – a so-called NAS (Network Attached Storage) – for data backup, you should connect it to a LAN cable. This way, you can quickly and securely transfer larger data volumes, such as videos or image series. Mobile devices are also integrated into the network via the activated WLAN.

Important: Always keep all software up to date by performing regular updates. Activate all security features on your router and secure the accesses with long, cryptic passwords to prevent unauthorized access to your network from the outside.

Internet Connection

Today, nothing works without a fast Internet connection. Professionally or privately, we can hardly imagine life without e-mail, search engines, electronic tax returns, or online banking. Depending on how high the expected data traffic is, you should have as fast a DSL connection as possible. Unfortunately, the Internet is still lame in some regions of Germany, which is increasingly becoming problematic, especially for freelancers with high data transfer requirements.

How Do I Keep My Data Up-to-Date?

Address book, calendar, and to-do lists – handy when your cell phone knows what you’ve entered into the computer. If you only want to synchronize one computer and cell phone, it’s easy via a USB connection. If there are several computers and several cell phones, you should use software for this. The Outlook e-mail program provides a good basis for successful data exchange between mobile and stationary devices in your home office. However, you must set up a central mail server with IMAP technology for data synchronization. Alternative: You use an external service provider. There are also cloud-based complete project planning tools such as Trello for relatively little money. If all devices are set up accordingly, you can access your data on the road – even from other people’s computers.

Cell Phones and Apps in the Home Office

If paid call forwarding is too expensive, you can also download an app that allows you to merge calls from mobile and fixed networks. The app connects the cell phone wirelessly to the WLAN router, so you can make calls over both networks from now on. E-mails or faxes also land on your cell phone this way. If you have a WLAN router that does not include this function, there are cell phone rates that allow you to make calls on the fixed network within a radius of two kilometers – this is usually sufficient for a regular office.

The Smartphone Is a Small Office

Have you ever made a phone call via the Internet? That’s also possible with a smartphone that has Internet access. Simply download the appropriate app from the Internet, and you can make low-cost calls with your cell phone via Internet services such as Skype – worldwide.

Some services allow you to send faxes over the network – this makes you independent of expensive equipment, especially in the home office and mobile, because the services can be used via cell phone or laptop wherever there is Internet.

With a smartphone, you always have your office with you
With a smartphone, you always have your office with you.
Photo: blp/fotolia/rangizzz

Data Backup

Data backup is an important topic, especially in the private workroom. With a cloud, you solve two problems at once: On the one hand, data can be backed up online, and on the other hand, it can be accessed from anywhere. If you save your data and backups from your PC, tablet, or cell phone in a cloud, you can always access them and are protected if your technical devices need to be repaired or no longer function. The backup is done using a password.

Remote Maintenance Software

If your laptop won’t print or a program doesn’t work as it should, good advice costs a lot of money. You usually can’t call a company IT specialist in your home office for help. We, therefore, recommend a remote maintenance program. It allows experts to access your PC. This way, problems can be solved conveniently – without someone visiting your home.

Safety in The Home Office

Once the home office is set up and fully equipped, many people often neglect their security. Electrical specialists are observing a negative trend: increasingly modern and complex technology adorns the home office – but there are hardly any safeguards for the user.

Too few power sources or overused power strips pose a significant risk not only to your data. They can lead to a room fire. Smoke detectors should, therefore, also not be missing in the study. They immediately sound the alarm in case of smoke development and prevent worse.

Furthermore, lightning strikes or minimal voltage fluctuations in the power grid can cause massive damage to electrical devices. You can counteract this and protect your data and devices with comparatively little effort. Retrofitted surge protection systems keep an overdose of electricity away. Installation is dirt-free and quick.

Spatial Design of the Study

If you want to separate your study from the rest of the room spatially, you can do it with clever furniture such as a closet office. You can make your documents disappear in a self-made roll container. With a rug and a few green plants, you can achieve that your study looks more homely. Green plants like the ficus or the green lily filter the pollutants blown into the air by printers or other equipment, improving the indoor climate.

You should also choose the paint for the walls carefully. It’s best not to paint all four walls the same color, but perhaps just one. A neutral environment can increase their productivity. If you have a small apartment and can’t spare a whole room for a study, you should set up an office in the living room or equip a rarely used bedroom with a compact home office. However, please note: If you want to deduct your study from your taxes, it must be physically self-contained – so in case of doubt, it may be worthwhile to install a lightweight wall.

Study and Children

Children, in particular, are at risk around the home office because they often can only be supervised with half attention. Power outlets and power strips with access barriers are essential if children play on the floor next to the desk. Special child-protection sockets should also be installed. After all, an electric shock can be fatal! In the event of a short circuit, a residual current circuit breaker switches off the entire circuit in a flash. Electrical contractors specialize in such installations.

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