Is working in your home office good or bad for your physical health? Is it good or bad for productivity and creative thinking? Are there simple changes that could make home a better place to work for you and for your employees?
A newly released self-assessment tool from furniture maker Herman Miller will help you find out. You, or your employees, answer about five minutes worth of questions about how you work at home. At the end, you'll get a score and some recommendations based on your answers that can make working from home both more pleasant and more productive.
I've been working at home through almost my entire career, and over the decades I've made hundreds of large and small adjustments in pursuit of heightened productivity and ergonomic best practices. Yet I wound up with a score of 80 and I learned a few things from taking this test. The assessment and the recommendations aren't limited to things like your office chair and computer setup. Instead, they look at three general areas that can have a big effect on your home working experience.
1. Your working environment.
The self-assessment starts right off with one of the most helpful things anyone working at home can have: An office of your own with a door that you can close. It goes on to ask who's sharing your space (including pets) what sounds are around you as you work, and whether you have natural light. Filling out this section made me realize that, although I have one somewhat bedraggled plant in my office, I could do with a couple more.
2. Your physical workspace.
This is where you'll answer questions about how you sit, where your monitor is in relation to your head, whether you can adjust your chair height and so on. I thought I'd explored every facet of home office ergonomics there is, but I learned from filling out this section that my occasional lower back pain might possibly be caused by sitting too far forward in my chair rather than against the back of it.
3. Your work habits.
This area checks into what productivity issues you struggle with most and also how much movement you get during the workday. The answer section comes with some sound advice about balancing your work and home lives when both happen in the same place.
If you've got five minutes to spare, take the test and see what kinds of changes might make working at home a better experience for you. Even if you've been at it a while, you'll likely wind up with a few good suggestions.