Increasingly, more employees in the United States are working from remote locations. According to a New York Times article and Gallup poll, in 2016, 43 percent of American employees reported they had spent some time working out of the office.
When people sign in remotely, they’re doing so from coworking spaces, local coffee shops with free Wi-Fi, connected airplanes, buses and trains, and most importantly, their homes.
But working from home can be distracting—between kids, clutter and chores, the need for a dedicated home office is essential for maximizing productivity. If you have your own business or are working for your employer remotely, it’s critical to set up a home office that allows you to focus and complete your work, day in and day out.
Here are some tips for ensuring that you are as productive as possible in your home office.
Let in Natural Light
Studies show that letting natural light into a workspace contributes to productivity. According to one report from Cornell University, in work environments with natural light, there is a 63 percent decrease in headaches and a 51 percent decrease in symptoms of eyestrain. In addition, the study revealed that workers that sit near windows increase their overall productivity. Make sure your home office has good natural lighting. If it’s too bright or warm with the blinds or curtains open all the way, try light filtering roller shades, which allow soft light in during the daytime. For a more natural vibe, try faux wood blinds, which add an earthy appeal and allow you to adjust the amount and direction of the light coming in.
Cancel Out the Noise
In one study, it was found that workers are 66 percent less productive when they hear one conversation happening nearby. If you are constantly exposed to the sounds of your home, like a barking dog, kids playing or your partner watching TV, you are not going to be as focused on your work. Your home office should be in a place that is quiet, even if it’s outside of the home in a shed or garage. If it’s in your actual home, you can invest in a soundproof weather strip to put at the bottom of your door and put up curtains or fabric window shades to prevent sounds from bouncing off your windows.
Pick Your Wall Color Thoughtfully
Different colors evoke different reactions. In general, your office should include a bright color on the walls, but the exact color depends on the type of work you are performing. For instance, if you need to crunch numbers all day or write lengthy articles, choose blue, which will stimulate your mind. You can use a little bit of orange as well to introduce some emotion into your office. The color red will help you be more physically productive – say, if you’re building arts and crafts or furniture – and yellow is great for creative workers, like artists and designers.
Choose Ergonomic Furniture
You need to think about the desk and chair you’ll be using in your home office as well. If your home office is tiny, then invest in a mobile computer cart you can move around as needed. If you have to meet with clients at home, go for an L-shaped desk. You should also consider a desk that converts to the stand-up position since workers that switch between standing up and sitting throughout the day are 46 percent more productive. When you’re sitting, look for a chair that flexes like your spine and improves your posture, which will keep you more alert throughout the day.
Organize Your Desk
Working at a cluttered desk all day can have a negative impact on your productivity, so keep it neat and organized to stay productive. Put the items you need all the time closest to you, like your laptop, pen, notebook, mouse, and phone. Get organized folders for all your non-essential papers and place them in the drawers of your desk. Use a little bowl or hook where you can place or hang your keys and various items and empty it out weekly. On a regular basis, go through your papers and miscellaneous items to keep them from cluttering your whole workspace.
As the world becomes more globalized, remote work opportunities will increase. Improving your home office now can help put you in a mindset that fosters motivation and success so you’re ready to take on any new projects that come your way.
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