Working from home isn’t for everyone especially when they don’t have a separate home office. Although it seems perfect at first, some people’s productivity can be severely hampered by continual distractions that entice them to do something else.
Still, there is no disputing the enormous advantages of working from home. With over 3.7 million employees working from home for at least half of their time in the US, it’s more popular than ever.
If you’ve decided to join the millions of other professionals who forgo the typical office setting to work in your own home, you need an effective workspace that keeps you comfortable and focused. But where do you start?
Working from home can provide small business owners and solopreneurs with a healthy work-life balance. It allows you to work at your own pace and save time and money that would otherwise be wasted on commuting and rent. But sometimes people struggle with it because they don’t have a proper workspace.
According to HingeHealth’s research on remote workspaces, 67% of employees don’t have a separate room for their office. Instead, they just settle on organizing their workplace in other places, like the living room or bedroom. Often times, they’d sit on the office couch or bed while holding their laptop on their knees, which is definitely not good for their back, neck, or joints.
One of three people who were asked in an interview with HingeHealth said that they suffer from both mental health and chronic joint pain. Pain doesn’t happen immediately, but if you sit incorrectly for a long period of time, you could start to feel uncomfortable. To avoid any risks to your health, create a personal workspace.
Whether you’re occasionally working from home or all the time, have your own business or work for someone else’s, here are some best tips to create a productive home office!
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Find the best spot in the house:
For some people, finding a spot for their office is simple. They utilize a vacant room as their designated workspace. It can be a real-life “office,” but many prefer to use whatever space they can find. But that’s not always the case.
Others need to think creatively about their office space because they don’t have the luxury of free space in their home. The first place you could think of using is your kitchen table; you just need to pack up your office before every meal, which can become pretty tedious. If constantly resetting seems like too much work, then something will have to click in your head about what you can do with the little space you have.
Take a look at unused corners in larger rooms, big and empty closets or maybe just under the stairs—there are plenty of places that could be converted into a small office with some creativity.
If possible, set it up in an area where distractions are minimal, like a quiet corner of your house with some kind of privacy. This is particularly important if you share a house with other people.
Choose the right lighting:
If you want to be more productive at work, there is one thing you can’t overlook — lighting.
A study found that poor lighting can lead to productivity issues, drowsiness, and difficulty with focus. However, intense artificial light can cause headaches.
To get the best results in your work environment, try to use as much natural light as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have a window near you, take full advantage of it by sitting near it. An increase in natural light will support your body’s sleep-wake cycle, allowing it to better regulate when to feel refreshed and drowsy.
Plants are an added touch you might want in your workspace. Research has shown that when people have plants nearby, they’re happier and more productive while they work.
A curtain of privacy:
Not everyone enjoys the luxury of having a room all their own for work. If you have one, your room probably has four walls and a door to separate you from the rest of your home. But for those who have their office tucked away in the corner of their room, separating work from home can be difficult.
One solution to this problem is adding a privacy divider to your home office setup. You can get traditional dividers that stay on the bottom half. Or something like a curtain that you hang from the ceiling or a rod. Because curtains are lightweight and usually affordable, you can “close the door” to your office without going over budget. If you’d like, you could choose something subtle so it blends in with everything else.
Put that noise away!
If you get distracted by noise easily, then take that as a positive. Arthur Schopenhauer suggested that “the amount of noise that anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity.” Let’s just hope that isn’t true.
Unwanted sounds could seriously annoy you and get in the way when you’re trying to work. Imagine being on a call, and there’s a lawnmower going off outside. It would be extremely distracting for both parties.
In your workspace, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce noise. Although you won’t be able to completely soundproof the room, it’ll still be an improvement. Here are some creative ways:
- Put bookcases next to walls
- Add heavy furniture everywhere
- Decorate your walls
And if all else fails and the noise still pierces through your eardrums, get yourself a pair of sound-canceling headphones.
Ensure you have the best internet!
It is difficult to run a home-based online business without a reliable internet connection. If your service isn’t up to par, then look for a new provider or buy a Wi-Fi router before making an office in your house. You’ll run into problems and get easily distracted if you’re constantly dealing with slow speeds.
To get a better signal, raise your router above the ground and put it in the center of your house. Make sure there’s no mess or appliances around it that can disrupt the signal. Microwaves and old phones are good examples.
Websites like Fast.com, SpeedOf.Me, and Speedtest let you check how fast your internet is. Do several tests at different times to get accurate results. Make sure nobody in the house is doing anything demanding, like downloading or streaming, when you do.
If the results are 5-10 Mbps off from what your provider promised, that’s fine. But if they’re way lower, then call them and make sure no one’s using your network without permission.
Invest in Yourself:
A home office setup can be purchased for a variety of reasons, but the primary one is self-investment. A professional environment will allow you to be productive and comfortable. But, like any investment, you get what you pay for. It may be tempting to buy the furniture that’s on sale, but don’t forget about what that low price gets you.
Peggy Brown from Bush Business Furniture advises people to consider quality “If you’re spending 40 hours a week working in your home office, make sure you think about how good it feels,” she says. “The cheapest desk won’t save money if it breaks after a year or two.”
Comfort should be your main priority:
When you’re working from home in the dining area and reach for a chair, avoid grabbing one because it’s close. The long-term effects of sitting at a desk without adequate back support will be problematic. Ergonomic chairs offer support for cases where we have bad posture and lack movement throughout the day. Putting money into one is putting money into yourself.
In terms of chairs, Brown suggests looking for these key features:
- Height adjustment
- 360-degree swivel base
- Backrest and armrest adjustments
- Seat depth adjustment
Find the perfect desk:
When working from home, the amount of time people spend at their desks has skyrocketed. That is why choosing the correct one is really important. This means finding a desk that complements your budget, workflow, and space. It should also be able to maintain your comfort throughout the day, which will increase your productivity.
Dave Hulst from Bush Business Furniture says, “Sitting all day and standing all day can cause aches and pains or even long-term health issues.” To save yourself from this situation, consider getting a height adjustable desk instead of a fixed desk. “This way, you can sit when you want to but also stretch your legs out by just pressing a button.”
Standing desks are good. Sitting is bad. It makes sense, at least from what I have been told. In a world where we spend most of our time sitting (even as I write this), it’s not hard to see why we need to get up and move more. A study found that standing six hours a day instead of sitting at a desk for the same period equated to a loss of 5.5 pounds of body fat in one year. While it’s not gym-level, standing desks still improve long-term health.
Spruce up your workspace with some personality and warmth:
One of the best things about a home office is making it cozy. You are free to add anything to it. Speaking of warm, welcoming environments, they actually improve productivity. According to a survey, 83% of workers stated they would like to see more artwork at work.
For color schemes, look into color psychology. Instead of dull colors, go for something that’s bright, like yellow, orange, or red. Those will keep you from feeling sluggish.
Easy storage solutions:
First, think about your available space. That way, you can find out how to make the most of it.
One recommendation is to hang things on the wall and use floating shelves. Assuming you have a desk, don’t forget all the space below it. You can fit a mobile pedestal or small filing cabinet and still leave enough room for your legs. For even more convenience, find desk high cabinets, bookcases, and drawer units that will sit alongside your desk.
If you have a computer system for your home office, then you’ll most likely need a printer to go with it. To figure out what type of printer is best for your work, consider how often you print. If it’s just a few letters or invoices every week, then an inkjet printer will be fine. Depending on what you need, you may want to get a scanner as well.
It’s amazing how much time can be saved just by organizing cables. And this should be done when first setting up your home office. Get yourself a cable tray that fits underneath the desk, along with desktop cable holders and cable ties. Make sure you identify each one by labeling them all. If possible, try going wireless with devices like keyboards, mice, and printers. Doing this will give your workspace more flexibility while also keeping it clean and organized.
Technology you need for you home office:
There are a few other items you can invest in in addition to the bare minimum, which includes a computer, phone, and Wi-Fi connection.
Make sure the technology you choose is simple to use, easy to set up, and compatible with all of your devices. You never want to buy something that you’ll have to return after figuring out that it doesn’t work with your computer or phone. When purchasing new technology, it is important to consider factors like how well it fits into your device and whether or not it has Bluetooth enabled, which will simplify setup.
If you’re using a laptop, then having a Bluetooth keyboard is a great way to improve its ergonomics and reduce wear and tear on your device. A docking station is also a handy tool for people who are constantly switching between working at home and in another place since it lets you quickly turn your laptop into a desktop without needing to disconnect multiple cables.