According to Business Insider twenty-three states have issued stay-at-home orders, encouraging isolation measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. During that time normal, working-class Americans are being asked to shelter in place and go out only for essential services like buying food and medicine. That means the work duties that once took place in an office or other business place are now expected to happen at home. While some may see this as a hindrance to efficiency working from home can also be an ideal way to have the freedom to be your own boss, so to speak. That said, setting up a home office requires a significant change if you’re used to working in a more formal office setting. It takes a bit of planning and a bit of effort to make sure this space maximizes your efficiency and productivity during the stay-at-home orders.
Working from home is enticing because it gives you an opportunity to set up your office to be as comfortable and efficient as you desire. You can decorate with crayon illustrations drawn by your daughter, you can wear basketball shorts instead of khakis, and you can have the television playing right next to your laptop screen. But it can be also a challenge due to the number of distractions that are unique to the home environment.
Consider how to effectively set up a home office to avoid the temptation to start a quick load of laundry or catch up on that ‘Tiger King’ episode you missed last night. We all run the risk of not being very productive when we don’t create a proper environment. It is just too easy to get distracted!
To help minimize distractions, and ensure peak efficiency, here is the ultimate home office setup guide for productivity:
Make sure that you have access to natural lighting in your office. One of the best ways to do this while also saving space is to put your desk or workspace in front of a window. Studies have shown that having exposure to natural light has a wide range of health benefits, including increased productivity. For example, natural light helps constrict your pupils, which benefits the function and reading ability of your eyes. Our eyes are not meant to function with artificial light, but rather under full-spectrum lighting. Having exposure to natural light will help boost your productivity and improve your vision. Furthermore, working in a naturally lit environment will trigger critical signals in your endocrine system to help manage sleep, your moods, and your immune system.
How many times have you heard through the other end of the phone “I’m sorry. My computer is being so slow today.” It seems like an excuse most times but if you’ve ever had to work on satellite Internet, older DSL, or even dial-up connection, you know this is 100% conceivable. We’ve all been there. This lag in time can not only slow you down, but it also offers you an opportunity to be distracted by other things. It is well documented that the primary cause of employee frustration is slow Internet.
Not only is a slow Internet connection frustrating, but it will also make your productivity grind to a screeching halt! While you wait for attachments to download, files to transfer, or web pages to load, you could be getting work done.
PRINTER/SCANNER OR MULTIPURPOSE MACHINE
Despite the fact that we now live in a predominantly paperless world, having the option to print and scan at home is a large part of being productive. There is nothing worse than being in a good workflow and needing to stop to figure out printing options. Sometimes you just need to print a file or an email or some other document. A good wireless printer/scanner/fax is perfect for the serious homebound worker.
STANDING DESK EXTENDER
Working from home can cause most people to lose even the minimum exercise they typically get at a more traditional office space. You get comfortable, you get in the zone, you’ve got snacks and a good coffee in front of you at all times, etc. It is important though to keep activity and stave off the sedentary lifestyle of a homebound worker. Consider an adjustable laptop desk or a standing extender. Let’s face it. The human body was not designed to sit, and the long-term consequences include upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, bad posture, and even spine or back injuries. According to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for developing non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. A standing desk keeps you on your feet more, which, is an effective way to burn calories and thereby help control your weight and overall health.
Your desk needs to have a large empty area for you to work, or you need to dedicate some space elsewhere. According to a study published in Forbes, about 57% of people think that one’s work directly correlates with the tidiness of their office. This means that if your office is messy, your work is likely to be messy as well. Clutter in your office can undermine both your productivity and your motivation. If your workspace is too crowded, you need to either consider buying a larger desk or start looking into a more efficient system for organizing your things. So put the stress toys away, get a pen/pencil organizer, tidy up any cords you may have out, and put all non-work related items back in their places.
From working in a more traditional work environment you are probably used to a stationary closet or supply closet. It is out of sight and out of mind and better yet, you don’t have to keep it stocked or cleaned up. When working at home though you will need somewhere to store your supplies, such as pens, paper, sticky notes, ink, and business cards. Consider a simple file box or a rolling drawer system, or even an art cart, of sorts. Whatever you choose, this element of storage will help keep your workplace clear, will help you work more efficiently, and will keep your necessary items in one place.
The above certainly is not an exhaustive list of what you may need to be successful working from home. For most though, the arrangement is only temporary and with a little creativity and thought you can turn items you already own into great office tools. That said, what are you doing to make your stay-at-home working life more efficient and successful?