Home offices were once very much in the minority, used only by freelancers, solopreneurs and a select number of people working for office-based companies. Now, they’re the norm and could end up becoming a permanent feature of businesses everywhere.
Productivity was long a rationale against working from home — the logic being that if you’re out of the office then you’ll slack off. This is proven to be false, with many employees believing and proving they’re more productive at home.
But it’s not as simple as setting up your office and then being more prolific by default. You need to do the right things and have the right things in place for this to happen. From picking the right room to selecting the right software (even recommending your preferred tools to your employer will help your company become more efficient), this is how to set your home office in the most efficient way.
Start by moving yourself in a room that isn’t your bedroom
Not everyone lives in a place with a home office setup. You may have a family, live in a houseshare or simply not have the space to have a separate office room. The result is that many people work remotely from their bedroom. Warning: this is a drain on your productivity.
Working from your bedroom removes the separation between work and rest.
The reason for this is that it creates an association between wakefulness and your bedroom, so it’s no longer a place your body relates with restfulness. This decreases your sleep quality, lowering your energy levels and draining your productivity.
The solution to this is to create a workspace that separates your bedroom from your office.
You can do this by picking a room that’s associated with activities, such as your living room or perhaps your kitchen. Ideally, it’ll be an environment with plenty of space, so you don’t feel boxed in and trapped while you’re working. So, pick your room for your home office and keep your bedroom for rest time.
Select the hardware you need to work at your most productive
Hardware is easy if you’re employed by a company that works in an external office — your employer simply provides the equipment you need, as it’s in their best interest to ensure you have the tools to work at your most productive. However, this can be problematic when you’re at home.
When you’re not in the office you can be out of sight and out of mind. Of course, your employer still has the same objective to ensure you have all of the appropriate hardware but a couple of things change when you’re at home.
Firstly, it’s harder for superiors to see if you’re struggling because they’re not physically there to witness it. Secondly, you might feel like it’s inappropriate to request items you would’ve asked for if you were in the office, such as a better chair or desk.
The way to fix this is to pick the hardware you need and make the case to your employer to get them to deliver the items to your home.
You do this by thinking about what works best for you. This means if you need a lowset keyboard then ask for one. If you require a chair with additional back support then request it. If you’ve only got one screen to work from then make sure you get a second (we’re big fans of the double screen here at Just Another Magazine). Basically, ask for all the things you’d expect to have if you were working in an office — your employer needs to supply you with what you need to make your home office a productive work environment.
Put yourself in a place where you can get sunlight and air
Very few office spaces are outside. Indeed, they can be grim places that have little access to natural light and fresh air.
This doesn’t mean you should follow suit when setting up your home office — quite the opposite. You should position yourself where you can get both of these things, as they each aid your productivity.
Fresh air and sunlight offer different benefits.
A lack of natural light leads to headaches, blurred vision and eyestrain. Research from Cornell University found that optimising your work environment to include sunlight can reduce these things by 84%.
Not getting enough fresh air makes you drowsy. This affects your decision making, causing you to make the wrong choices and work less productively than you can do.
You can solve these problems by setting up your office in a room with windows, ideally one that the sun faces. This will allow you to get access to sunlight and fresh air throughout the day. Alternatively, you could also schedule some time into your calendar when you take a break outside.
Get the software you require to work productively and safely
Remote working is about being digitised. You need the tools and connectivity to access your work, keep in touch with your colleagues and speak to your clients. It’s a no-brainer then that you need the correct software to be able to work at all, let alone to do so productively.
There’s a multitude of software you need to work but some are more pronounced at home. For example, you need:
- A word processor and spreadsheet program (to complete your work)
- Time tracking software (to record how productive you are with your time)
- A project management tool (to keep track of projects and tasks)
- Video conferencing software (to speak with colleagues and clients)
- Business communication platform (to hold quick conversations)
- VPN (to go online under a different IP address identity and work safely)
- Malware and antivirus software (to protect your information while online)
And these are just the essentials.
Much like the hardware you require, it’s in the interests of your employer to provide you with all the software you need to work productively at home. This means you should be provided with all of the essentials listed above.
However, it might be that the software provided isn’t the best option for you (for example, it may not be as user-friendly as you’d like). If this is true of you then it’s probably true of your colleagues too — and presents a great opportunity for you to make the business you work for more productive.
So, firstly make sure you have all of the essential software. Secondly, make sure it allows you to work as productively as possible. And thirdly, make suggestions to your employer if you can think of better pieces of software than those you’re using.
Your room, your hardware, your access to sunlight and fresh air, and your software are all essential to setting up your office in the most productive way possible.
We’ve explained why this is the case and what you should expect from your employer. All you need to do is make sure you have all these things and that you have the best options for you. Then it’s up to you to do just your work!