There’s no doubt that your working environment can have a huge impact on the work that you produce. Numerous studies have shown that your working environment can have an impact on productivity, job performance, happiness and job satisfaction. It’s crucial, therefore, to be able to find or create an environment that works well for you. A report from RAIN Group showed that ‘extremely productive’ workers are 3.3 times more likely to organise their work environment to maximise productivity.
Here are some tips to help you create a home office space that will give you a productivity boost.
1. Make sure you have enough light
Don’t underestimate how important good lighting is. Ideally, you’ll want a good amount of natural light coming into your home office. If this isn’t possible, think about investing in some daylight bulbs. This is especially important if you’re looking at a screen all day. All of that blue light from your screens can affect your sleep as it is, you don’t want to cause any further issues by not having lighting that’s up to the job.
2. Think about background noise
Do you work best in complete silence? Or do you prefer a bit of background buzz? Perhaps you need an upbeat playlist to get you motivated. Whatever works best for you, you have the opportunity to create this in your home office.
If you do prefer a quiet atmosphere reminiscent of a library but can’t block out the sounds of the street outside or those noisy neighbours, you might want to invest in a good pair of earplugs or headphones that have active noise-cancelling. Activate the noise-cancelling setting and it will work without having to play any music.
If you find yourself distracted by the quiet in your home office when you’ve been used to the background buzz of an office there are several ways of creating some background noise. If having the radio on is too much, you could try having it on in the next room and let the sound filter into your workspace. You could also find some background noise audio tracks online or on a music streaming service like Spotify. Coffitivity has a library of recordings of cafes if that’s more your vibe.
3. Create an area that’s ‘just for work’
When you work at home, it can sometimes be difficult to switch off at the end of the day, especially if you can physically see your workspace. To help you do this, create a space that is just for work and that you can walk away from at the end of the working day. This may be easier said than done for some. If your home office is used for other things as well, perhaps it’s the living room or the kitchen table, make an effort to physically transform the space into your office at the start of the working day and deliberately put all of your work things away at the end.
If you sometimes take your work elsewhere, such as to a local coffee shop, try not to choose the coffee shop you like to go to at the weekend.
4. Add a little greenery
While it’s important to keep your home office clutter and distraction-free, the addition of a houseplant or two may be able to boost your productivity. Psychologists have found that bringing some greenery into the workplace can boost productivity by up to 15%. They also add a nice bit of decor and help oxygenate the air. It’s a win all round. Just make sure they get enough light and remember to water them every once in a while.
With this in mind, if your home office has a nice view of the outdoors, make the most of it and position your desk so you can see outside. This can make a big difference to your state of mind and help reduce stress.
5. Declutter your desk
If your desk is piled with things that you don’t need at a moment’s notice to do your job, it’s time for a spring clean. Having lots of things around you can be distracting, especially if they’re not related to work, whereas a clear desk can help you focus on the task at hand. It might not be enough to simply sweep everything into a desk drawer as this will just cause problems later on when you’re looking for something. Sort through everything and get rid of anything that’s not work-related and organise what’s left so you can find everything you need quickly and easily. This will help you focus on your work and reduce the time you spend looking for things.
6. Invest in a good office chair
2020 was the year everyone discovered the value of a good office chair. If you spend eight hours a day sitting down at a desk and looking at a screen, it takes a toll on your body. Having a chair that is comfortable and helps you sit correctly can help you avoid back problems and all sorts of other issues with your body. Even if you don’t have a ‘desk’ as such and use the kitchen table during the day, it’s worth thinking about whether the chair you’re using is up for the job.
When you’re sitting at your desk, you should position your screen so that it’s at eye-level when you’re sitting properly. This will help you maintain good posture throughout the day. You might need to get a laptop or screen stand to get the right position or a stable stack of books makes for a good temporary solution.
7. Are you too hot or too cold?
Having the room at a comfortable temperature can be really important for maintaining focus. If this seems like a silly point to you and you’ve never thought about it before, then you’ve probably already got it right. However, if you’ve spent the winter months shivering over your keyboard or summer days fanning yourself with your notepad, then you know how distracting it can be. If you sit at a desk all day without moving around very much, you can get cold very quickly, especially if the temperature is relatively low. Popping the heating on in the winter and investing in a good fan or even air conditioning in the summer is well worth it for your productivity.
If you’re working remotely from somewhere other than your home office for the day where you won’t have control over the temperature, the key is to take layers with you. This way you can add or remove layers to keep you comfortable.
8. Establish the rules
When you work remotely from a home office, it’s important that everyone else in your household respects this space as your workspace. Make sure everyone is aware of your working hours and that they know not to be noisy during this time. Many remote workers find that when working from home, family or friends might not respect your work-life boundaries as much as they would if you were in the office. They may expect you to help out with some chores or be able to answer the phone for personal calls whenever. They might come into your office without knocking and interrupt a video meeting. Establish clear boundaries early on and stick to them.
Many remote workers say that they are more productive working from home than in the office. Working remotely gives you the opportunity to discover what working environment really works for you and you can create this for yourself. Most people won’t find themselves at their best with their feet up on the sofa, so it’s important to spend the time designing a workspace free of distractions and with everything you need to do your job as efficiently as possible. Things like the lighting or the temperature of the space might not sound like huge priorities when creating a home office, however, all of these things come together to create an environment where you can be comfortable and productive all day.