How intentional are you about working from your home office?
Do you have a home office? More and more companies are allowing their staff to work from home. While most of us still go into an office, working from home has numerous advantages. A recent World at Work study found, 91% of employees say they are more productive working from home. Now, that’s a great benefit for companies. But what if your home office makes you everything but productive?
First, let’s have a look where your home office is. Not everyone needs to have a designed room to create a home office. A separate space can work just as well.
What does your workspace look like? Depending on your work, you may require a regular desk or a bigger and higher table. Will just one work station be sufficient or do you require additional space? Many of my IT friends work with 2 large screens. They wouldn’t fit on the desk I’m using and they need extra long desks. What are requirements?
Once you know what you need, you can also consider what you want. In your office, you may have an adjustable desk, one that can be brought up to such a height that you work while standing. You may wish to have a table where the top can be put in different angles. This is especially useful if you need to draw or sketch.
Invest in a quality chair. Even if you’re working from a couple of times per month, working from the couch is generally not the most productive area. Lounging on your couch, trying to type, your spine is not supported and you may notice some back pain by the end of your day at home. Get a chair which gives you the necessary support for your back.
Plan around your workstation. If you’re working with only your laptop, check where the charger can go in. If there’s no socket available nearby, get an extension cord.
Where will your phone go? Do you even have or need a landline phone for your home office? If you do, then place it to your left if you’re right handed or right if you’re left handed. Putting in the opposite side of dominant hand allows you to write down notes during any call.
Pens and notepads may not be stored on top of your workstation. They can be kept in the top drawer and be pulled out on as needed basis. If you’re using them constantly, then, I’d place them on your workstation. At the end of each work day, put the pens back into their containers to create an empty desk.
What about your files, samples, materials, etc? Unless you’re purely working with electronic files, you will have some paper files, work samples or materials to be used. It’s recommended to have them nearby you. The frequency of you needing them will determine where they should be located. For example, you pull out the same paper documents a number of times per day, then have them next to your desk. Your desk may even have space for them inside its drawers. If the materials you’re using are only pulled out once a week, you can keep these in a cupboard to which you have to walk.
Have the right light for your needs. Daylight is fantastic and studies have shown how employees are more productive when elements of nature are brought into the office. Your home office may by default be a lot closer to nature than your corporate office. Still, you need to have the right natural and artificial light for your work or your eyes will be drained. Focused floor lamps which can lighten the room and direct light towards you may be an option. A desk light is another option and more targeted if your work is in a smaller space than the entire room.
Be intentional about your day. Decide how you want to spend your day. This may be the analysis you couldn’t get done at work because it’s too noisy and you needed some quiet areas, i.e. your home office. Define your 3 priorities for the day and don’t move on to the next tasks until the first one is completed. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can slag and watch TV all day.
Reduce distractions. Colleagues are the biggest source of distractions in a corporate office. What do you think t’s in a home office? The children, the internet games (I love Mahjong) or the TV? The fridge is pretty high up there, too. If you find yourself distracted by the internet, use websites like Freedom which block access to specific sites or the internet in general. You can determine for how long you want to have these sites blocked and focus on your actual work.
Closing the door often helps for distractions by family members, the cleaner or even the little furry friends. If your family is the distraction, ask them to give you time to work on this task. Estimate how long it will take and join them for a quick break afterwards. For example, you need 1 ½ hours for this activity and it’s 9:45 am. Finish your work and leave your office by 11:15 am to spend a few minutes with them.
Don’t forget to take breaks. When we work from home, we may get on that productivity train where we forget the time. That’s great if we can bang out so many projects. Give your eyes some break, especially when working on a computer screen. You should look into the far for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Look out of your window and notice what’s happening in front of your house. Go to the fridge (yes, you have permission this time) and get something to drink. Have a nutritious snack and rest for a few minutes before you continue.
I personally like to work from the dining table if no one else is in the house. It’s positioned in such a way that I can look outside the window and gets flooded with natural light in the morning hours. I’m fortunate enough to have this option and move to my home office desk later on. As I work from home quite a bit, I’ve noticed that moving locations gives me a burst in energy and has made a positive impact on my creativity.
Where do you work from home? Share a picture of your home office. I’d love to see how you work.
Until next time,