Despite some of the workforce returning to the office, 7 out of 10 U.S. employees report working from home since the Coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, over 65 percent of pandemic remote workers said they wanted to keep working from home moving forward and would even look for a new job if required to return to the office.
It’s no wonder the home office is the preferred corner office for the majority of workers today. With benefits such as flexible hours and the elimination of long commutes, remote working saves valuable time and energy. Employees are 13% more productive when working from home, according to a study conducted by Stanford.
However, with increased self-accountability and distraction just around the corner, a well-functioning and organized home office is necessary for any remote worker.
Here are some valuable tips you can start using today to make the most of your home office space.
Start Your Day Off Right
Choose a time to wake up that matches your needs and stick to it. Waking up at the same time every morning helps establish an efficient routine by strengthening your circadian rhythm, encouraging your bodily cycles to work at a set schedule to keep you energized throughout the day.
Right after waking up, try not to immediately browse through emails or scroll through social media—taking a few quiet moments to yourself in the morning to make coffee or stretch will promote a tranquil mindset that leaves your brain refreshed and eager to work.
And while it may seem tempting to stay in cozy pajamas throughout the day, showering and getting dressed in some form of work attire establishes an office-like atmosphere and signals to your mind that it's time to get to work.
Give Yourself Space
While schooling-from-home kids or package deliveries can easily disrupt your day, setting tangible boundaries and designating an area strictly for work can help you separate your home office from the daily commotion of a busy house. If space is limited, tall storage systems such as modular shelves can form a divider within a single room to block out distractions from the other side. They can be easily reconfigured and customized to suit your workday needs.
Instead of crowding your desk with loose sticky notes and reminders, to-do lists (with a recommended amount of 3-5 achievable list items) can be tidily inscribed on a whiteboard or hung on a corkboard to keep your goals in view. Better yet, keep everything digital with task management apps such as Monday, EasyNote, and Trello.
Also, remember to give your body space to stretch, stand up and move around throughout the workday. Standing while working not only improves your health in the long run but is proven to uplift your mood and increase mental alertness, providing the necessary focus to be at your best throughout the day.
Clear Things Up
Excessive clutter provokes unnecessary stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling disorganized and unfocused. Keep loose files, documents, and essential materials tucked away in compact, conveniently accessible cabinets underneath or next to the desk for easy access when necessary.
Try to keep things wireless or Bluetooth-accessible wherever possible for a more cable and clutter-free surface. But when that’s not a viable option, desks with built-in cable management and integrated support for technology help avoid crossed wires.
Floating shelves and wall storage are great for arranging essential items with arms-length without compromising coveted desk space. Invest in pieces that are functional as well as thoughtfully designed.
Time is of the Essence
Studies have shown that between 75 and 90 minutes is the ideal duration of time to fully concentrate on work before your mind begins to wander or feel fatigued. 10-to-15-minute breaks are just enough time to temporarily disconnect from work and reinvigorate your brain without veering your mind too far from the job at hand. Taking meaningful breaks away from screens and social media—walking around the block or making a snack—refreshes your body, eyes, and mind.
According to a study conducted by U.K. scheduling firm YouCanBookMe, the optimal time to schedule meetings and phone calls is Tuesday at 2:30, a sweet spot that is just early enough in the week and late enough in the day. Forty-five minutes to an hour is considered the most advantageous length for a phone call or meeting, allocating enough time at the beginning for introductions or small talk and leaving an abundance of time to concisely cover important objectives without losing attention.
Light Up Your Life
The proper lighting can brighten up your mood, plus the health benefits of natural and warm-toned lights include reduced headaches and diminished fatigue. Fortunately, at home, you’re not confined to a space assigned by the company; choose a spot rich in natural light and bask in the benefits.
Color and greenery can also contribute to creating a positive and healthy work environment, cultivating an atmosphere of creativity and enthusiasm.
Researchers at the University of Munich found that the color green stimulates the part of the brain that incites ingenuity and mental acuity.
Communication is Key
Don’t let anything get lost in Zoom translation! Preserving clear communication with colleagues helps maintain a cohesive company culture despite not being in the same place. Consistently checking in allows you to be held accountable and keep others accountable, working collectively towards company-wide goals.
Social distancing doesn’t have to be anti-social, either. Something as little as taking a coffee break or having a quick lunch with a friend over Zoom adds much needed variety and interaction to a workday and can be just the boost of encouragement you need to tackle work with newfound motivation.
Communication doesn’t just take place in the office. Clearly relay your schedule (quiet hours, phone calls, meeting times, etc.) to family members and others in the house so they know exactly when work ends and family time begins.
After that, be sure you take time to wind down and relax after a productive day of work!