Working from home? Here are some tips to help you thrive in your home office space
It has been more than a year since the onset of the pandemic which forced many people to work from home. Initially, the set-up seemed to be a welcome dream, but months later many were struggling to carve out an appropriate space in their homes where they could feel energised and focused. With the boundaries between work and life blurred beyond recognition, how can we best utilise the spaces in our home to feel comfortable and productive?
Green spaces are happy spaces
When planning your home office space, don't just concentrate on the major things you need to get work done, like a computer or a desk. Think about how small design elements can affect your mood, wellbeing and overall approach to work. Since you spend hours at your desk every day, even the smallest of adjustments can make a big difference.
In 2014, a research team at the University of Exeter in the UK found that providing plants in workplaces improved productivity by up to 15%, as well as increased engagement and happiness in the workplace. So, the same should be implemented in your home workspaces. If you do not have a window facing nature, get some plants to spruce up your desk.
Find good lighting
A well-lit workspace is an absolute must. According to a recent study by the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell, “optimising the amount of natural light in a workspace significantly improves health and wellness among workers, leading to gains in productivity”. Therefore, make sure your home office is positioned in the part of your house that gets the most natural daylight and watch your productivity and creativity grow.
If you do not have access to natural light, make sure you have several light sources, from a good desk lamp, a broad range of light bulbs or other indirect lighting. You can also brighten your workspace by painting the walls a lighter shade and accessorise your surroundings with office paraphernalia in cheerful colours.
Focus on good ergonomics
While tempting, it is best to avoid working on your bed or sofa. Even in a small home, it is essential to create some separation between your living and working spaces. If it is difficult for you to source an ergonomic chair, try to find a chair and table that let you work without hunching over.
Another option would be to consider devising your own "standing desk". You can do this at the kitchen counter or prop your system up on books at your table to create the right height. Always aim to build a setup that holds your back in alignment, so you won't lean over to see the screen.
Declutter your workspace
A clear desk policy is both a productivity boost and a great way to minimise the inevitable distractions of working in your own home. The first step in keeping your desk minimalistic is keeping fewer things on it and around it. Secondly, store your stationary supplies and other items that you do not use frequently on shelves or in drawers that are within your reach but out of your sight.
Thirdly, declutter your PC! We tend to save too many files right onto the computer desktop, making it difficult for us to find what we need, when we need it. Try to select a non-distracting wallpaper image, store finished projects within marked folders and remove all unnecessary icons on your main screen.
Make sure your workspace is conveniently located near a power outlet or look for an extension cord so you can plug in everything that you need at the same time.
If you're going to make a lot of video calls, try a mock call in your new office to see how it feels like. A clear wall that isn't too distracting is a good backdrop, and proper lighting enhances video quality. While you're at it, test out your internet speed and WiFi signal in that area of the house to make sure it is strong.
WFH can boost productivity
While balancing comfort, function and aesthetics is sometimes a challenge, you should consider the importance of each and prioritise them to create a more relaxed work environment. Research from a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that people who follow their same office schedule from home get more done per day, as the quiet environment boosts their productivity.
Personalising your workspace is just the first step in designing a comfortable home office. No matter where you start, you should continue to address other areas of the room to eventually end up with a thoughtfully decorated space that will recharge your mind and improve your productivity.