Home is where the work is: the rise of the home office

Home office workstation
With many people set to work from home at least part-time through 2021, home office improvements are something many Belgians will want to consider investing in. Working from home, for most, prior to the pandemic will have been a rarity, so it’s likely that the equipment and set-up at home wasn’t up to scratch.

Although the blueprint for a post-Coronavirus world still looks uncertain, the one thing we do know is that the way we work will likely never return to ‘normal’ full time office culture. New reports even show that 72% of office workers would prefer a mix of remote and office work.

During these past twelve months we’ve learned both the pros and cons of working from home, but how many people have created their own ideal home working space? New desks, chairs, laptops and computer screens can be expensive - so it’s likely many people will need to consider their financial options to create their dream home office.

With the help of search data and advice from interior designers, we’ve determined the most sought after home office improvements products to create the perfect office, alongside tips and tricks anyone can apply to boost productivity and wellbeing.

The average cost of a home office is €3,485

White floor rug in home office

Home workers have several options when it comes to creating a dedicated home office space.

From simply applying a lick of paint, to new flooring or a built-in desk and drawers, home office improvements can be a costly investment, even when sticking to a budget.

We researched the average price of remodelling a home office. There’s three budget types that we’ve explored, starting with just the basics such as a desk and chair, to the more decorative improvements with higher price tags.

With most homeworkers likely to opt for a lower cost option, we’ve calculated that the average cost of a home office renovation overall is €3485.

Budget table

Demand for work-from-home items remains high

Woman using laptop in home office

Demand for home office equipment spiked in March 2020, the start of the pandemic, and hasn’t declined. This may be because we’re realising working from home, at least part-time, is likely here to stay for some time.

Analysis of search data relating to home office equipment tells us what type of products teleworkers are on the hunt for. Laptop stands are the most popular item, seeing a 173% year-on-year increase in search demand.

While a laptop stand might be a simple fix for people’s work from home troubles, demand for more costly items such as desks and office chairs is still high (+82%) - indicating that many people are making the commitment to a more consistent work from home lifestyle.

Search demand table - office equipment

Webcams are the most sought after work from home technology item

Woman using laptop in bed

Inevitably, due to working from home, most of our usual day-to-day meetings are video calls.

While most laptops will have webcams built-in, searches for webcams are still high at an 83% increase year-on-year. Could this suggest people are tired of the blurry images seen from built-in webcams and looking to smarten up their calls with better tech?

Laptops are the second most in-demand work from home technology item (+50% year on year). Costing anywhere between €600-€3000, laptops are one of the most expensive work from home upgrade items to purchase. ith 80% of laptop users claiming the flexibility of the device increases productivity, they may be worth the investment.

Search demand table - office tech EN

5 top tips to improve your working from home setup

iMac with mouse and keyboard

Even with some small changes, you can create a home office setup that will be better for your physical and mental health, whilst also helping you crack on with your to-do list.

Aion Bank spoke with occupational health expert and researcher, Liesbeth Daenen, on her five tips to not just boost your productivity whilst teleworking, but also keep you fit mentally and physically.

1. Movement is key

The way your home office is set up can have a great impact on your productivity, mental wellbeing and physical health. Liesbeth suggests limiting the same seated position to a maximum of one hour or to stretch every so often.

Four out of five teleworkers were generally glued to their screen for more than one hour at a time. Try to find balance in sitting, standing and moving around.

2. The perfect angle

You might not have given this much thought before, but the measurements of your desk and the equipment on it can make a great impact on your health. Liesbeth suggests the ideal distance to your screen, if this is 24 inch or bigger, would be about 70 centimetres. Work with a laptop? Then you can sit a bit more up close, although using a separate monitor would be recommended.

Whilst many people that have switched to teleworking from a laptop in 2020, it is best to use an external keyboard to create the perfect angle to work from to ensure your back keeps in contact with your chair. The keyboard should be placed about 5 to 15 centimetres from the edge of your desk.

3. Pay attention to light

Daylight is an important factor in influencing our mood and energy levels. It ensures we stay alert and awake throughout the day, and a workspace without natural light is not recommended.

Daylight that comes in from the window helps your eyes relax as it allows you to alter your perspective and look into the distance, away from your screen, every once in a while. It is best to place the desk at a 90-degree angle to the window, and preferably not too close; a minimum 2 meters distance.

Avoid placing your computer and desk facing the window, too. The light intensity that comes in from the outside causes a lot of contrast with the light intensity of the screen. As a result, your eyes will have to make an extra effort to read the data on the screen.

4. The right position

More important than the correct sitting position is movement and posture variation. A sit-stand desk can offer a solution to this. This offers many advantages whilst working from a home office such as easily being adjusted to the correct height and tailored to the individual to ensure good posture.

Of course, a good office chair is important too. A durable chair that gives you sufficient seating comfort and will last for years is an excellent choice. After all, even in the post-pandemic world, we will continue to work a lot from home.

When choosing an office chair, it is important that it is adjustable enough so that it can be easily adjusted to your own body measurements. A good backrest and armrests are a must, a kitchen chair obviously doesn’t meet these requirements

4. Find the right home-work balance

And last but not least, know when it’s time to switch off. With working from home on the increase, the line between our private life and work has started to blur. Ensure a healthy disconnection once you log off. It is important for teleworkers to create an environment without disruptions. So if possible, aim to set up your home office in a separate room.

Come up with a ritual to start and end your workday. For example, start your working day with a cup of coffee and consciously go to your workplace or consciously put on casual clothes after your working day.

A personal loan can be used to cover costs linked to the purchase of more expensive goods or services, and may be a smarter financing option for your home office upgrade vs using a credit card. Aion Bank’s personal loan process is fully digital and qualified individuals can borrow up to €35,000 with a loan duration between 12-84 months and one of the best rates in the market: 4.89%. Additionally, if a better rate is found, Aion will match it.


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