There has undoubtedly been a huge shift in working environments since the outbreak of coronavirus. Finder found that 60% of the UK adult workforce are now working from home with 26% of people planning to continue working from home either full-time or part-time after lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
Anyone who has gone through the process of leaving the office to work from home probably knows how difficult it is to be as productive at your home office as you were at work. It’s true that you don’t get stuck talking to Jill from finance about her weekend on the way to make a coffee and there are fewer meetings to attend. However, home offices are not free from distractions either. It could be the kids, the dog, the pile of washing, or simply the allure of the sofa. Add that to a poorly designed home office and you have a recipe for low productivity.
We’re going to explore how you can create the best home office set up that will help to boost your productivity. You’ll be able to get more done in less time, resulting in a better work/life balance. All it will take is some minor adjustments to your home office equipment and the layout of your home work environment.
Location, Location, Location...
Before we get into what you need in your home office we need to talk about where you are going to set up your home office. Some of you will have the luxury of having a whole house, while others in a house-share may have limited options. Some home office setup fundamentals apply to both situations but we’ll talk through the optimal set up for both circumstances.
How to find the best work environment in your home
Here are some things you’ll want to consider when choosing the location of your home office.
- Choose a quiet area of your home. Working in a busy room like a kitchen, dining room or even your bedroom will be filled with distractions. Find somewhere that you don’t often go so that you can create a clear association with that room as a ‘workspace’.
- Opt for somewhere that is spacious so that you will have room to think, stretch your legs and change positions.
- Seek out natural light if possible as this is strongly linked to alertness and productivity.
- Pick a room with a door so that you can shut yourself away when its time to concentrate.
House shares - how to create a home office in your bedroom
If you live in a house-share without much shared living space, it can be difficult to create a productive working environment. However, there are some things you can do to make the best of the situation.
- Create more space by decluttering your bedroom. Get rid of old clothes, tidy things away into storage boxes and remove anything unnecessary. The feeling of spaciousness has been linked with increased productivity and clearing your room will also reduce the number of distractions.
- Set up your desk near a window so that you feel a sense of space from seeing the outside world and so that you will get the full benefit of the natural light coming through the window.
- Rearrange your room so there is a clear working area and a clear non-working area. It’s not ideal to work, eat and sleep all from your bed. Having defined areas will help you to switch from work mode to relax mode.
Invest in the best home office equipment and accessories
I’m sure many of you reading this will have done exactly what I did when I first started working from home. I sat on the sofa or at the dining room table with just a laptop, a notepad and my phone. After a week or two sitting in that position my shoulders, back and neck were hurting from the hunched over position that you’re forced into when typing on a laptop all day. Then I was conscious that I often squinted to read on my small laptop screen and developed headaches as a consequence.
Even if working from home is temporary, it’s important to create the best home office setup to avoid the pain that can come from a poorly designed office. In a corporate office, it’s someone’s job to make sure that your workspace is set up correctly, but when you work from home, it’s down to you to make sure that you create an office that will boost productivity and take care of your health.
Here’s a list of the equipment that you need for an ergonomically designed office space that will protect your body from injury and boost your productivity.
- Adjustable standing desk - being in the most comfortable position will improve your concentration by reducing the aches and pains associated with sitting for long periods which can easily distract you from your work. Additionally, the movement that occurs in the body from switching between sitting and standing gives you a boost of energy throughout the day. There have been several studies that show using a height-adjustable desk can improve your focus and help to develop a healthy resting heart rate.
- Second screen - investing in a decent-sized second screen can increase your productivity by up to 44%.
- Laptop stand - being able to adjust your laptop screen so that the top third of your screen is at eye level will also make you more productive through increased comfort levels and the reduction in ache and pains associated with sitting with bad posture.
- Ergonomically designed office chair - just like the adjustable desk and laptop stand, having a chair with the correct support for your back, neck, and elbows will make you more comfortable and therefore more productive.
Buy some indoor plants to increase your productivity and happiness
Researchers at the University of Exeter found that indoor plants can increase productivity by 15%. As humans, we’re happiest when we are outdoors. It’s simply an evolutionary fact. However, it’s not possible or ideal to work on a laptop while exposed to the elements. So, the next best thing is to bring the outdoors to you. Having one or two indoor plants in your office will help make you feel like you are outside and improve the air quality in the room which helps with concentration.
Think about the colour
Colour psychology is the study of how certain colours can affect human behaviour and it’s a simple office hack that can have significant benefits. Neutral and blue shades are linked with improved concentration, green creates a calm, balancing effect, while yellow is supposed to stimulate mental activity. Think about what is most important to you and introduce the right colour to your office. You could paint a wall, put up a poster or have a colour scheme for your office accessories to induce these effects.
Add a nice smell
Making the room you work in smell nice will not only make you feel better about being there, but it can also have cognitive-enhancing effects. This is because the inhalation of an aroma activates the hypothalamus which is the area of the brain that sends messages to other parts of the body.
- Lemon promotes concentration and has a calming & clarifying properties.
- Lavender helps control emotional stress.
- Cinamon will help to fight mental fatigue and will improve focus.
- Peppermint can give you an energy boost and will promote creativity which is great for a brainstorming session.
Whether its a candle, essential oils or incense, this cheap home office hack can have profound benefits.
Hopefully, this article has given you an insight into how to set up your home office for productivity. The best thing about becoming more productive is that you can get more done in a shorter period of time. This will leave you with more time to spend with your friends and family and you effectively get paid more per hour. It’s a win-win!
If you don’t have the budget to kit yourself out with everything we’ve outlined in this article, here’s what we suggest.
- Move your desk near a window
- Purchase a second screen (new or used)
- Get a laptop stand to improve your posture and ability to focus
- Buy or find a small green plant to have on your desk
These are relatively cheap upgrades that will have a huge impact on your productivity!