Creating a productive environment for working at home
If you’re new to the world of working remotely, it takes some getting used to. Whilst 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 space to work at home
Even though your morning commute is now simply down the stairs or into the next room, arriving at a designated workspace will create that same feeling of getting into the office and work mode. Having a study or spare room is ideal: your quiet ‘office’ is already waiting for you. If, however, you have some space constraints, don’t worry – the essentials are a comfortable chair, a surface, and a little creativity.
A room divider is perfect for open-plan living spaces; it will add a design element as well as cornering off an area for you to work. All you need then to consider is a desk that suits your scheme and professional requirements. Other simple alternatives are dressing tables – transformed into a desk 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 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, 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’re 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’re short on space or working from a makeshift desk, items like box files and pen pots 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 whilst 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 colour. Feng Shui suggests that warm tones are the best for creativity and coolers ones for more logic-based work.
Rugs are perfect for introducing colour; they also bring a welcoming element and help to break up your 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 as your mind will appreciate the change of ‘scene’. If you sit at the trusty dining table, put a pin 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 the view of your kitchen or those you live with.
At home, you can let your green-fingered whims run wild. Not only do they look fabulous, plants also improve air quality by removing impurities. They are also thought to alleviate stress, and according to Feng Shui, improve communication and energy – ferns, bamboo and snake plants in particular. Bamboo and snake plants are happy in low levels of light, so should thrive regardless of how close you sit to a window. Alternatively, you could try artificial plants: they require zero maintenance and still bring that natural touch to your workspace.
Create a home working routine
Whilst 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 would usually; if you’re a fan of a morning workout, 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’re finding you have lots of time to spare in the morning, thanks to the lack of commute, make the most of it: start exercising, 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 company operates on flexi-time 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 proper lunch break, away from your screen, and take breaks as you would normally – they’re key to both productivity and your wellbeing.
Lastly, make sure to separate the professional from the personal. It’s easy for 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.