Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Your Work-From-Home Office Space
The COVID-19 pandemic has employees across the U.S. continuing to work from home. If you're one of them, chances are you've had to deal with occasional distractions, such as kids and pets. However, the reality is that staying at home reduces your risk of infection and eliminates the need for daily commuting, among other benefits.
According to findstack.com, remote work statistics show that "16% of companies in the world are 100% remote," and "77% of remote workers say they're more productive when working from home." In addition, "85% of managers believe that having teams with remote workers will become the new norm," and it looks like the number of professionals working from home will probably continue to rise in the coming years.
But what if you're still struggling with this transition? How do you improve your productivity without sacrificing invaluable family time?
It all starts with a well-organized, office-like environment at home. And while some homeowners may go over the top with this space, you can opt for something simple.
Here are three tips for creating the perfect home office.
Gather all necessary equipment
The ideal home office has more than a desk and a computer. Since you'll be spending eight hours a day or more in this space, you'll need a few other supplies. Let's look at some work from home setup ideas and the four pieces of equipment worth your consideration.
You don't want just any chair for your home office. Do yourself a favor and invest in an ergonomic chair that provides support for your entire body.
You may have previously done short bursts of work at home, sitting at the kitchen table or countertop. Chances are that your kitchen stool or wooden chair will not be conducive for an entire eight-hour workday without causing stiffness or pain.
Many professionals rely on a second monitor for improved efficiency. For example, suppose you're tired of switching between tabs on one screen. In that case, an additional monitor can make an immediate difference, especially for those who must juggle multiple tasks at once while still being responsive to emails and chats.
In addition, try positioning your monitor above eye level so that you can avoid strain on your neck. Prolonged periods spent bent over your laptop screen can cause pain and lower your energy levels. Try and place your monitor slightly above eye level, so you ideally look up a bit.
Perhaps you're thinking about getting an ergonomic desk instead of an ergonomic chair. In either case, you'll be glad you made such a purchase. Research shows that sitting for an extended period can harm your health.
Another benefit to a standing desk is that you help maintain your energy throughout the workday when using one, especially if you are a fidgeter or someone who has trouble standing still. Pro tip: Have a conversation with your doctor to see what kind of standing desk makes the most sense for you.
Strong internet connection
An unstable internet connection ruins any chance of getting work done at home. Save yourself the potential headache and install a router before moving forward with your efforts. Otherwise, you could find yourself working longer hours and losing the work-life balance you previously achieved.
Here are some best practices for maintaining a strong internet connection:
Place the Wi-Fi router at the center of your house.
Ensure there's no barrier between your workspace and the router.
Verify the strength of the connection by downloading any relevant software application from a reliable source.
Home office design tips
Don't stress if you're asking, "How do I design a home office?" We will walk you through decorating your space and transforming it into the best home office setup for maximized productivity. Our home office hacks will help you make the most of your layout, no matter the size of your home or workspace.
Set your priorities
Decide what matters most when it comes to this space. Will you be reaching out to clients or attending conference calls regularly? Then you'll want a quiet, well-ventilated room for handling business.
Let there be light
The last thing you want is to end up working in a dark room. That's why we suggest opening up the blinds and allowing natural light to boost your productivity. Setting up your desk near a light source, especially a window, will help boost your mood and increase your creativity and productivity.
If you have to work at night, consider LED lights to give your eyes a break.
Make it yours
Working from home provides a rare opportunity to decorate your workspace however you want. Break out the bright colors, display some of your favorite picture frames, and customize your home office in a way that will make you more enthusiastic about your job. With as much time as you're going to spend in this room, why leave it plain and boring?
Keep it clean
We often forget that a home office, just like a cubicle, becomes dirty from time to time. So once you're settled into your new work area, determine how frequently you'll clean it. Whether it's once a week or a few times per month, you'll need to stock up on sprays, wipes, and sanitizers.
You'll likely have distractions every day while working from home. Yes, your dog might bark during a conference call. Or maybe you'll have to tend to a crying child now and again. In any case, it's imperative to focus on your work to the best of your ability.
Separate your workspace from living areas
Some professionals find it tempting to work in their bed or while watching their favorite show. However, this kind of multitasking will hinder job performance and motivation. Make it a point to isolate yourself during your shift and leave the office once you're done for the day.
This means sticking to a schedule, even if you have the flexibility to work from home. You should feel comfortable turning off notifications after office hours. And if you're concerned about burnout, reach out to your manager.
Try and consistently take lunch breaks - but away from your desk. It's easy to fix lunch and sit back down in front of your computer, which can lead to faster burnout. The same is true for those who aren't good or consistent with taking breaks.
If you don't create those pockets of time to step away, you might be creating an environment where you feel like you are always at work, blurring the line between work time and 'you' time.
More home office hacks
Now that you know how to design a home office, here are a few more hacks to make your workspace even better:
According to gethppy.com, "Studies show that 90% of workers perform better when listening to music." In addition to making you happier, "Listening to music also has many health benefits. It reduces stress, decreases pain, and improves immune function."
If you're not accustomed to listening to music while you work, a great place to start is by searching study or focus music on whatever music platform or app you use. For example, the Headspace app that provides mindfulness, meditation, and sleep aids has a section just for work or school focus. There are short meditations to get you in the headspace to focus on your work and music tracks to induce better flow that is highly effective.
Have everything you will need for work on hand
Make sure that when you sit down to start your workday, you have everything you will need for the day ready and available. Other than getting up a few times to refill your water glass or use the restroom, it would be best if you eliminated other distractions when possible. Set yourself up for success by preparing for your workday and having all the necessary materials on hand, so you don't have to break your flow to retrieve something.
Limit your tech distractions
No one is immune to distraction, especially when it comes to our phones. You will maintain better focus throughout the day when you eliminate distractions from your workspace.
With such a powerful form of entertainment and distraction at our fingertips, our phones and usage should be limited. Setting boundaries to not get on social media until you are on a 15-minute break or during your lunch break will help decrease the number of times you break the flow of your work to stop and scroll.
Take a walk during your lunch break. Getting up and moving will not only provide a much-needed break from staring at a screen but help you reconnect with yourself.
According to verywellfit.com, "Health authorities including the CDC recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking." If you incorporate a minimum of 10-minutes per walk during every lunch break during the week, "you will have achieved the minimum requirement to help combat the health risks of inactivity and obesity."
Take it easy on yourself
You may never have the home office of your dreams. But you can set yourself up for success. First, remember that everyone is adapting to their "new normal" these days.
Do the best you can with what you have, and always be on the lookout for improving your setup over time as you learn what works best for you. Not everyone works at the same pace or under the same circumstances. However, if you learn more about yourself, what makes you tick, and what habits help you function best, you will continue to do your best work.