Creating a productive environment for working at home
If you’re new to the world of working remotely, it takes some getting used to. While there are plenty of benefits – wave goodbye to the commute and welcome an extra hour in bed and lunchtime workouts – it can also be a challenge. Explore our tips on how to make your home office the most efficient, comfortable and creative space.
Designate a place to work at home
Even though your morning commute is now simply a trip down the stairs or into the next room, arriving at a designated workspace will create that same feeling of getting into the office and into work mode. Having a study or spare room is ideal: your quiet office will already be waiting for you. If, however, you have some space constraints, don’t worry – the essentials are a comfortable chair, a stable surface, and a little creativity.
A room divider or screen is perfect for open-plan living spaces; it will add a design element as well as cordon off an area for you to work. All you need to consider then is a desk that suits your interiors and professional requirements. Other simple alternatives are dressing tables, which can transform into desks in a matter of minutes, two bedside tables pushed together, or you could even open a large, tall cupboard and use the interior as a workspace. Wherever you choose, your chair should ideally offer strong lower back support and allow your feet to sit firm and level on the floor. If you’re sitting at a dining chair, opt for one with a high back, as it will naturally make you sit up straighter.
The impact of noise and light is also worth considering. The quieter the space the better: it’s easy to get distracted if you live with others or have children. Natural light is proven to boost productivity and mood, and reduces the chances of headaches and fatigue that can occur when focusing on a screen all day. So, if possible, choose a spot that is close to a window – fresh air is a plus as well. If you are using table lamps, try and choose a lampshade that roughly aligns with the top of your screen. Doing so will ensure that you’ll get maximum light and minimum glare.
Add character to your home office
One of the great things about working from home is that you can inject as much personality into your workspace as you would the rest of the house. Start with the essentials: stationery and storage. If you are short on space or working from a makeshift desk, items like filing boxes and pen holders are all the more important. They can be used to introduce decoration in addition to being practical. Even if you have plenty of space to work with, bookcases are an excellent choice as they provide ample storage while taking up very little real estate on the floor.
Visually interesting spaces stimulate creativity. Staring at blank walls all day is no good for your mindset, so try to incorporate some color. Feng Shui suggests that warm tones are the best for creativity and cooler ones for more logic-based work.
Rugs are perfect for introducing color; they can also make your work area feel more welcoming and help to break up the space. Artwork is a simple and effective choice as well. You don’t want to get distracted, so try and choose pieces that feature only a few shades. If you like to switch up your prints and pictures, your home office is an excellent place to experiment – your mind will appreciate the change of scenery. If you sit at the dining table, put a bulletin board up on the wall that is the width of the space. It will delineate where you work without encroaching on the living area, as well as provide some visual appeal.
Conducting plenty of virtual meetings and video calls? Your backdrop is important here. Position yourself in front of well-arranged artwork or a blank wall, it will look much more professional than a view of your kitchen or those you live with.
At home, you can let your green thumb run wild. Not only do plants look fabulous, they also improve air quality by removing impurities. As if that weren’t enough, they’re thought to alleviate stress, and according to Feng Shui, they improve communication and energy – ferns, bamboo and snake plants being particularly adept. Bamboo and snake plants are happy in low levels of light, so should thrive regardless of your desk’s proximity to a window. Alternatively, you could try artificial plants: they require zero maintenance and still bring that natural touch to your workspace.
Create a remote work routine
While the idea of rolling out of bed at 8:55am might sound appealing, it’s important to structure your day. Set an alarm from Monday to Friday as you normally would. If you’re a fan of morning exercise, don’t let the shift in routine change this. Continue to get up at your usual time and go for a run or embrace a home workout. Equally, if you find you have lots of time to spare in the morning, thanks to the lack of a commute, make the most of it: start practising meditation, read a book or make a proper breakfast, all of which will set you up much better for the day than getting up as late as possible. If your employer operates on flextime you could also look at starting and finishing work earlier to reflect your change in schedule.
Gone are the days when working from home was synonymous with slacking, but the feeling of needing to be available at all times can be much stronger when you’re not in the office. Make sure to allow yourself a real lunch break, away from your screen, and take other breaks as you normally would – they’re important for both productivity and your own wellbeing.
Lastly, make sure to separate the professional from the personal. It’s easy for the line between the two to blur when you’re at home. If you work at the dining table, pack away your things until the next morning and if you have a work phone, make sure to turn it off in the evening.