If there’s one silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s how remote work is now a big part of our lives. People are now discovering they can be just as productive at home as they are in the office. Having said that, it can be hard to get your creative juices flowing when you are constantly facing the same four walls. To help you out, we’ve written this article so you can get inspired and maximise productivity from home. Read on and find out more!
Home Office Design Tips
If you’ve played The Sims, you’d know that good interior design can significantly boost morale and cheer up even the unhappiest of Sims. Especially if you are now working from home most of the time, the design of your work space requires some thought. Here are some of our best home office tips for you!
1. Invest in a good desk and (ergonomic) chair
A good chair is integral to productivity. Everything is resting on it (literally). The good news is, there are relatively inexpensive options that provide decent lumbar support, so just go ahead and pick one out. For a desk, we recommend something around 70 - 75cm high as this would be an ideal fit for most chairs. Length-wise, we like something spacious enough to i) place an external monitor and keyboard if you use one, and ii) have some storage underneath for the office supplies you use most e.g. extra notebooks, post-it pads and emergency snacks.
For those who are working from home permanently, it might also be worth it to invest in an additional standing desk, so you can switch things up once in a while.
2. Find your ideal location
Do you struggle to work when it’s too quiet/noisy? Some people find pin-drop silence uncomfortable, and would rather read in a cafe than a library, while others cannot work without it. If you need absolute silence and full-on concentration, it’s great if you have a separate space for your own home office but if not, you’ll need to use the quietest corner in your apartment and shell out for extra-powerful noise-cancelling headphones. For those that prefer some background noise, a corner in your living room might be a viable option as people come and go occasionally, giving you the opportunity to chat here and there.
While you’re giving your home office set-up a mini makeover, it may also be a good time to question if your current location gives you enough space. If your chair is constantly bumping against the back of the wall, or you’ve stubbed your toe against a table leg one too many times, it may be time to find a new location for your desk.
3. Station home office equipment nearby
While it’s a good way to get extra steps in, walking around takes time. For example, if you are always using the printer, make sure it’s set up in the same room as your desk, so you can grab your printouts quickly. If you are always going to the kitchen for a snack/drink, consider getting a minibar under your desk or stationing a water carafe on your desk first thing in the morning. The extra few minutes coming and going may not mean much to you but it certainly adds up. Also, nothing is worse than losing your train of thought when you’re in the zone.
Some things we’d avoid:
- Your desk facing the bed
Let’s face it, no one needs further temptation to take a nap after lunch
- The back of your chair facing the door
Not being able to see who is coming in, can cause you to feel on edge subconsciously
- Sitting directly under the window
We love the fresh air and view, but the strong glare and sunlight is just not worth it, especially in summer.
How to get more productive: Tools & Tips
Now that you have a rough idea about what constitutes good home office design, here are some extra tips to improve your productivity.
1. Invest in an external computer screen, keyboard and mouse.
Many people think extra monitors are only for people working with design, but they are really great for everyone. Hint: if you are the type of person that always has 20 tabs open at any one time, it can be useful to have an extended screen to open multiple windows, especially when you need to compare information.
Likewise, an external keyboard and mouse provides you with that extra flexibility. If you’re always typing on your laptop, it’s unlikely that your eyes are the recommended 40 cm away from the computer screen (hello, glasses!). Lastly, a mouse is pretty self-explanatory but for those who are working in the field of design, we would recommend taking it further and investing in an ergonomic mouse. Graphic design and carpal tunnel syndrome come hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.
2. Use Work & Project Management Apps
It can be easy to lose track of things in a remote work environment. If you’re not already, try a project management tool like Asana so you can be better aligned with your team. Asana is also great for managing personal deadlines and making sure you don’t have too much on your plate on each day.
There is a saying that if you want something done (well), do it yourself. This absolutely does not apply to work. Especially if you are at a managerial position or a leader, it’s important to give your subordinates the chance to learn. They might not do things exactly the way you do, but with time, they will learn how you need things to be done and this frees up more time for you to focus on other priorities.
The Importance of Light and Hydration
The perfect home office setup isn’t complete without good lighting. And by that, we don’t necessarily mean it has to be bright in your room. Every light serves a purpose. It may not matter so much in the day as natural daylight is usually enough, but when the sun sets, you need to pick something that works well for you.
If you need to work on tasks that require you to use your imagination for example, an LED with a warm, yellowish hue is easy on the eyes and creates a relaxing mood that boosts creativity. On the other hand, if you need to be 100% focused, go for a LED light with a blue tinge, as it’s known to increase attention span and concentration. When you can’t make up your mind what is more important to you – concentration versus creativity – then choose a natural white light as it has no known disadvantages.
With all that’s said, what is perhaps most important, is to ensure you stay well hydrated while working as staying hydrated leads to better mental performance and cognition. You may have the best home office set-up in the world but you will never be able to perform your best if you’re feeling lethargic from not drinking enough. Remind yourself to keep sipping by using a hydration app or, if you can swing it, a Smart Cap that blinks when you haven’t had enough.
Conclusion & Takeaways
In conclusion, improving your productivity while working from home is largely a matter of good design and having the right equipment. Be it an external screen, keyboard or mouse, these will all help you work faster and you should definitely see it as an investment. Add some optimal lighting and good hydration habits and you’re all set. Remember: you don’t have to blow your life savings on a thorough renovation for a good home office layout. Just take some time to consider what is important for you and how you work best.
Oftentimes, it’s simply a matter of putting some thought into it, followed by a trip to everyone’s favourite Swedish furniture store.