Teleworking and flexible schedules have become increasingly popular in recent years, and with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, more of us are working from home than ever before. While working remotely offers excellent perks, like reduced gas spending and an extremely relaxed dress code, it also comes with unique challenges to productivity.
Tips For Hope Office Setup Improvement
By incorporating the following strategic changes into your home office setup, you’ll accomplish more in your workday and establish critical work-life balance boundaries that prevent your job from creeping into your personal time (and vice versa).
Eliminate distractions—including email
The flexibility that working from home provides is one of its greatest strengths, but it can also derail your productivity if you don’t establish firm boundaries for yourself and your family members. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Irvine, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track with work after being interrupted.
If you’re constantly responding to requests from children or answering a ringing phone, you’re losing hours of valuable work time every week. To reduce interruptions, set firm office hours during which family members are advised not to bother you except in a true emergency. You can incorporate breaks throughout the day to handle small issues that may arise, but in general, you should block off several multi-hour chunks each day that are dedicated solely to work or a specific project.
Partners, pets and children are obvious potential distractions, but email can be an even more insidious time-waster if not managed carefully. It can be tempting to respond to emails immediately when you see a pop-up on your computer screen or hear a notification from your phone, but letting your email dictate your work schedule is a recipe for disaster when it comes to working efficiently.
Instead, establish two or three set times each day to check and respond to email, and make sure your notifications are turned off to prevent the pull to respond right away.
Keep your space free from clutter
Clutter is another major productivity killer, since it provides ample opportunity for distraction and forces you to spend valuable work time searching for files, papers and other items buried in the mess. The following tips can help you clean up the clutter and create a productive work environment:
- At least once a week, move piles of papers and other items out of your work space and go through them one by one, tossing items you no longer need and returning the rest to the place they belong, such as a file folder or desk organization system.
- At the end of each work day, remove any personal items that have found their way into your office space, such as dishes and silverware, grooming tools, clothing or shoes.
- Invest in an organization system to keep chargers and cords from encroaching on your work space.
- Have a shredder at the ready to get rid of sensitive documents as soon as you’re finished with them.
Incorporate natural light
Multiple studies have shown that the presence of natural light in a work space has a significant positive impact on employee productivity, whether it’s in a traditional office or a home office.
Compared to artificial light, natural light has been proven to enhance mental clarity and concentration, reduce fatigue, improve vision and decrease the incidence of tension headaches and migraines. Natural light in the workplace also contributes to better overall sleep quality and mental and physical health.
If possible, set up your home office space near a window or other source of natural light. If your access to natural light is limited, consider boosting existing lighting with full-spectrum bulbs, which create a crisp, pure white light that closely mimics the temperature balance of natural daylight.
Get creative with color
Study after study has shown that the colors in your work environment can influence both mood and productivity, and choosing the right colors for your home office setup becomes even more important if you’re working in a tight space.
- The color green has a calming effect on most people, helping to minimize stress and relax the mind. Options for incorporating more green hues into your work space include painting walls, shelves or other accessories, adding a green background to your computer screen and creating a plant wall or hanging garden.
- Blue hues are thought to promote creativity and deep thought, making it a smart choice for walls, furniture or décor, especially if you work in a creative field.
- Large swaths of white—such as walls or desktops—can make an area look larger and cleaner than it really is, which is key for small work spaces.
Ensure fast, hiccup-free internet service
When you’re working on an important project, few things are more frustrating than having to wait for web pages to load or files to transfer, and the extra few seconds spent idle every time you click a link can really add up over time. When setting up a home office, investing in quality high-speed internet service is essential, despite the added cost that usually comes with it.
Before committing to a package, compare all internet providers in your area and check users’ reviews to see if their performance lives up to the marketing hype. This guide can help you find the best deals and know what questions to ask to ensure you get the best product for your money.
You’ll also need to purchase a network router sufficient for managing the internet load for your household to prevent smart phones, TVs and other devices from slowing down your online access. If you’re concerned about weak signal strength in your work space, consider a router that maximizes the Wi-Fi signal in your home to prevent lags in productivity.
Use your desk to stay on task
Desk design is largely a matter of personal preference and the limitations of your home office setup, but some desks offer more bang for their buck than others.
- An L-shaped desk fits nearly into corners and provides two large work spaces; this model also incorporates two shelves and a cubby for versatile storage options.
- If you’re really tight on space, a compact laptop desk fits almost anywhere. Look for designs with shelves, drawers and other storage areas to maximize the space you do have.
- If you’d like the option to stand while you work to reduce overall sedentary time, this inexpensive adjustable desk can be used at various heights and in almost any location.
- A wall-mounted floating desk provides versatility for offices in shared spaces.
Choose a comfortable chair
If your chair isn’t comfortable and supportive, you’ll constantly look for reasons to get up, walk around and do anything but work. Sitting for long periods of time also places significant stress on your spine and pelvis, so spending a little extra on an ergonomic desk chair today can prevent years of pain, stiffness and injury in the future.
This model is a bit pricey, but it provides outstanding lumbar support, an adjustable head rest and versatile flip-up arm rests. It also rolls smoothly and features a breathable mesh back for cool comfort. If you’re on a tight budget, this chair also incorporates ergonomic design and comes in a rainbow of fun colors to brighten up your work space.
Keep your papers filed and easy to find
If you work with large amounts of paper—or confidential documents of any kind—a secure file cabinet is a must-have component for your home office setup. This sleek rolling cabinet is easy to move and store, and its quality construction is backed by a five-year warranty. If you want an even more portable and compact option, consider this handheld model.
Save space with a multi-function printer/scanner/fax
Even as business functions continue to move online, you’ll almost certainly need printing, scanning and copying capabilities in your home office at least occasionally, and having to go into the office or a commercial office center to do so is time-consuming and inconvenient. By purchasing a multi-function machine up front, you’ll be prepared to copy, scan, fax and more whenever the need arises.
Be smart with storage
Adequate, well-organized storage ensures that all of your office supplies, tools and papers can be located quickly and easily in your home office setup.
- A rolling storage cart with mesh drawers gives you visual access to the items stored inside and keeps surplus printer paper, toner and other supplies nearly organized.
- This handsome desktop organizer provides separate compartments for pens, papers, tape and other tools.
- For cramped home offices, wall-mounted organizers can help you keep track of everything without monopolizing valuable floor or desktop space.
Final Thoughts on Home Office Setup Hacks
In these uncertain times when many employees find themselves suddenly having to adapt to working remotely, finding the best home office setup for productivity is critical to maintaining high performance levels. With the right home office setup and time management strategies, the work you produce from home can exceed anything you could accomplish in a traditional office setting, and that’s a win for both you and your employer.