Countless companies have adopted a work from home or hybrid model ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While, at first glance, it may sound like a dream situation — more control of your time, no rush-hour commute, and avoiding office politics… However, what seemed to be a perk only few could imagine, has become a challenge most employees have yet to overcome, especially when it comes to communication and maintaining focus.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re at your best when at home is to have a dedicated home office. Although you can argue that all you’ll need is a desk and a chair, this may not inspire much creativity and inspiration, no matter how energized or focused you claim to be.
So, how do you build a home office that’s conducive to a positive and productive work atmosphere? In this article, we’ll share five tips that will help you achieve just that:
1. Invest in office equipment
The first step to creating a productive home office is to make sure you establish a workspace environment that is equipped with adequate office essentials. When your office has the right equipment, you maximize your efficiency by having all the facilities you’ll need within arm’s length from your work desk.
While you may finally have the freedom to design your office in a way your boss may never have agreed to, remember to have the following:
- Reliable internet connection
- Ergonomic equipment
- Adequate lighting
- Wide desk
- Backup drive
- File cabinet
2. Add a personal touch
The ambiance of any office space is an important factor to maintain productivity. Take time to think about how you can transform your old, spare room into a place where you’ll be excited to wake up and go to during workdays.
You can hang posters of your favorite role models, play relaxing music, or experiment with different colors to see which ones get your creative juices flowing.
Your home office shouldn’t have to always be a place where you hone in and isolate yourself from others inside your home; you should aim to turn it into a modern space that reflects your values, and fosters inspiration.
3. Keep your home office tidy at all times
Nobody wants to enter an untidy workplace, regardless of whether it’s at home or the office.
Staying productive while working remotely is more than finishing the tasks on your to-do list and making sure you work your required number of hours. It includes staying organized and motivated every day to put your best foot forward and help your company achieve its long-term goals.
The best way to keep your office clean is to declutter your workspace every day after you shut down your computer. By building a routine of cleaning up every day, you make your home office a better work environment, and help limit distractions.
4. Set firm boundaries
Staying focused has become one of the leading complaints people experience when working from home. It can be attributed to a lack of supervision or accountability, or simply succumbing to the temptations of different leisure activities accessible during work hours.
Now that you’ve finished setting up your home office, your next challenge is to find a way to be productive in that space.
While working from home is an adjustment everyone at home needs to get accustomed to, when you don’t start by setting any boundaries you’ll have difficulty finding a perfect work-life balance.
Knowing that you may not be the only one who’ll utilize your home office during work hours, you’ll need to keep important items like documents and flash drives locked in areas where only you can access them to avoid misplacing or even losing them.
Aside from setting boundaries with people you live with at home, you should also learn to set boundaries for work, whether it’s responding to a coworker’s email or getting started on another task.
To help you come to grips with establishing boundaries with your job and coworkers, here’s what you can do:
- Establish a work routine
- Learn to politely but firmly decline when given tasks beyond your assigned work hours
- Make your schedule visible to other coworkers
- Communicate your boundaries effectively
5. Set alarms
It can be easy to get so lost in trying to check off all the tasks on your to-do list that you forget to take care of your well-being. This can lead to unproductive outputs, anxiety and, ultimately, job burnout.
In fact, over 69% of work-from-home employees claim they are experiencing burnout symptoms; these symptoms include:
- Lack of energy
- Inability to concentrate
- Frequent headaches
- Loss of appetite
Knowing the symptoms, this leads to the next question. How can you cope?
While everyone deals with stress differently, you can start by setting alarms throughout the day to remind you when it’s time to stretch, eat your meals, or take breaks.
If you’re always in ‘work mode’, your body gets exhausted, causing you to alienate yourself from your family, friends, and coworkers. Setting fixed alarms during your work schedule will help you develop a self-care routine and counter the effects of burnout.
Here are some activities you can do to prevent burnout while working from home:
- Reach out to your boss about a change of workload
- Get regular exercise
- Spend time outdoors
- Establish work and home boundaries
- Check up on other employees
- Take some time off
It’s been a long time since some of us have had to step foot in an office. While most employees have had to swap their office cubicles for kitchen counters and study tables, finding the right mix to achieve a perfect work-life balance continues to be a real challenge. Most employees either feel the need to work longer hours to make up for any delayed or unsatisfactory outputs, or work less to avoid job burnout.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to finding a ‘happy medium’ for your work routine, this also gives you the best chance to experiment with what work style and environment work best for you. Are you more comfortable working at night or during the day? Do you work better in silence or if there’s music or ‘white noise’ playing in the background?
Although this process may take some time to accomplish, having a carefully considered working environment is vital to keeping you productive and focused every time you need to clock in.