26 Mar Get More Done: How to Set Up an Efficient Home Office
If you’re like millions of people who turned remote workers overnight (thanks to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19), you need to know how to set up an efficient home office…and pronto!
With movement restrictions dramatically ramping up, this pandemic has inspired an undeniable work-from-home trend.
Millions of city residents are on lockdown.
Gyms, bars, and restaurants are closed.
Schools are out.
And businesses are sending workers home to work remotely.
For those who typically have to leave home to go to work, this is a whole new normal.
And, while some remote-based workers and side hustlers have a handle on it, there is room to put additional things into practice.
How can a place we normally come to for relaxing be converted into a place for expected productivity?
How do we create spaces at home that translate into efficient professional workspaces?
This simple breakdown is designed to give you what you need to design your home office experience.
Down to Basics
Ok, so you have a laptop or desktop computer.
Wireless router? Yep.
Aside from the obvious equipment requirements, there are some things to consider when setting up an efficient home office.
Working remotely (and successfully doing it) requires figuring out…
- Where to work.
- When to work.
- How to create healthy work and personal life boundaries.
The following elements assist in making working from home both productive and, dare we say, enjoyable.
One of the most challenging parts of working from home is creating and maintaining a routine. There are countless things that can distract you from work. But, you don’t need to do that laundry load right this second!
Having some things in place ahead of time will help limit interruptions to your workflow and encourage productivity. Here are a few:
1. Set regular hours
Although remote work has the benefit of time flexibility, it is important to have clear guidelines on your workday.
Sure, you may have to accommodate time zones by getting up early or extending your day. If that happens, adjust your schedule.
Being mindful of how much time you’ve punched in “on the clock” helps limit burnout and inspires a healthy balance.
2. Follow a morning routine
Perhaps just as important as setting up your work hours is following a routine in the morning.
If you were going to an office every day until now, you didn’t jump out of bed and hop into work, did you?
No, you didn’t. There are things that happen leading to “work mode.”
Tasks such as taking a shower, doing a quick workout, and making a pot of coffee signal preparing for work. These activities go a long way in getting our bodies and minds ready for work.
3. Limit distractions
If you share a space with others in your home, it’s crucial to set ground rules up front.
Let your kids, roommates, or partners know what times you’re accessible and what area of the house is considered your home office.
If useful, create a “do not disturb” or “in office” sign for the door, or post outside near your workstation if you don’t have a designated room to work in.
Making your expectations clear allows for others in the household to limit interruptions that happen in a shared home. If you’re working, designate someone else to answer the phone and accept food or UPS deliveries.
For us smartphone addicts, reducing use is the best way to promote productivity. Turning off notifications, hiding apps, or blocking yourself on social media will help.
4. Take breaks
Just like in the office, make sure you take the standard breaks (two 15-minute breaks and one-hour lunch). Moving around and resting your eyes from your computer or phone during breaks replenish your energy.
Hard to step away?
This way you really maximize that time-out you deserve.
5. Use sick days
When you’re feeling unwell, take the time you need. Bed rest and healing are the long-term plan for productivity.
Simple as that.
6. Have an end-your-day routine
Just like you begin the workday with a routine, create a habit that ends it.
Signal the closing of the day by shutting down your laptop and playing music or a favorite podcast. Take the dog for a walk or take an online yoga class to wind down.
With the above parameters in place, it’s time to get organized.
Setting up an efficient home office not only means you have the necessary equipment needed to complete your work effectively. It also means you have tech tools that will enhance organization, communication, and productivity.
If your company or organization requires you to work from home, take note of what is needed for you to work comfortably and effectively.
Would an additional monitor improve your work?
Are you in need of a printer or mousepad?
If you need it…ask your employer for it.
Technology also plays a big role in the office-to-home transition.
Communication tools like Slack are key tools in bringing remote teams together. This app prioritizes and organizes conversations, allowing colleagues to give instant feedback. Connection happens both one-on-one and in groups.
A rise in video conferencing makes the need for platforms like Zoom indispensabile.
With rapid growth of 30,000 users in 2014 to 700,000 in 2017 (a 2233% increase), it has easily become the best video conferencing app there is.
It’s a reliable way for companies to conduct virtual meetings, have check-ins, and even engage in informal hangout sessions.
Design Your Space
In an ideal world, part of setting up an efficient home office would be to physically have one.
“Being able to separate work from home is essential in setting healthy boundaries,” shares online interior designer of The Good Abode, Christine Martin.
“While this may not be a physical possibility for some during this time, there are definitely ways to create a workspace that honors that balance.”
According to Martin, the first thing to do is designate the space.
“Whether it’s converting the guest room, taking an area in the garage, or assigning a seat at the dining table, it’s important to establish where you call work.”
In terms of office furniture, a comfy desk and ergonomic chair certainly are a good starting point.
But, Martin says, “creative solutions can go a long way both spatially and economically, especially if you live in a small space.”
Here are Martin’s top space-saving solutions to promote productivity:
- Lap desk: Full-sized desks are not imperative to create your home office environment. Lap desks are a clever way to designate a work space while allowing you to enjoy the comfort of your bed or couch. And, they don’t have to break the bank!
- Lumbar support pillow: Investment in a comfortable desk chair you can sit at for hours is not always possible. One way to ensure back and lower spine support while sitting at stiff dining chairs or mushy sofas for hours is to slip in a lumbar pillow. Bonus is getting one with memory foam. This way it conforms to the natural curvature of your back.
- Lighting: Having a deliberate choice of lighting for your home office is important. Not only does it help with eye strain while at the computer, but it’s a different type of lighting you’d use to relax at home. The best desk lamps are both stylish and energy efficient. A favorite is TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp with 5 adjustable brightness settings and a USB plug in the back. Now, that’s efficiency!