There are plenty of advantages to working from home: no travel expenses can save you a bunch of money (especially in London), you can lie in longer, you don’t have to dress or – if you use video conferencing – don’t have to dress below the waist and the TV is right there for your lunch break.
But it’s also not always easy to get into that ‘work mode’ mentality, not least because the TV seriously is right there and what if they’ve finally put Gotham season 2 on Netflix?
The best way you can ensure maximum productivity is to create an environment in your home that feels like it’s an office, without making it uncomfortable. The psychological effect of a working environment is well documented and we know an office layout has an impact on work productivity. But one of the main advantages of working from home is that you can decorate your office any way you like! We recommend you don’t go too overboard by including a set of swings or Zorb ball, but developing an environment that will motivate you to work will increase your productivity and could do wonders for your job satisfaction! Here are some tips on designing your home office space:
We’re not talking about emotional support here (although feel free to lean on a friend about which mousepad to get), but the physical kind. You might have looked at a lot of magazines with home offices that look amazing, but many of them do not cater for a 50-hour work week. Perhaps that upholstered chair looks the bee’s knees in the picture you saw, but will it offer support for your back? Remember, sometimes your office chooses the ‘less fun’ furniture options for a reason: health and safety! This guide to ergonomic desk chairs might be useful.
As mentioned above, the TV is right there. That’s not to mention the sofa, your books, the tablet device, the cleaning you still have to do, the birthday presents you haven’t wrapped, the bills you haven’t paid… the list goes on. These things can be very distracting when you are supposedly in ‘office mode’. The best way to avoid distractions is to generate a clear distinction between what is ‘work’ and what is ‘home’. Developing this boundary will keep your ‘office mode’ mentality and your ‘relax at home’ mentality segregated.
People have less energy in the winter due to the lack of sunlight. With less light, our bodies produce more melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. This means – in the winter especially – you need to be sure your workspace is well lit. Get some lamps to make sure you’ll have enough light to keep your energy up! Overhead lights don’t fill up the room with much warmth, but lamps work great and offer you many more design options. Don’t be afraid of natural light either – set yourself up near the windows to take advantage of the sun.
Plants make people happier – it’s a fascinating and well-documented fact that having some greenery in your office will not only make you feel happier but also lower your blood pressure and increase productivity. In fact, there are several plants that will actually filter out harmful toxins from the air to produce cleaner air for you to breath – we made a list of these plants in a previous blog. Better mood, healthier body and cleaner air – the only thing you need to worry about is watering it. No brainer, right?
One thing that’s often unavoidable on most desks is the mess. Papers often get dropped on your desk, and you know that you’re going to need them soon but you’re not sure when so you keep it in sight, but then something else gets dropped too and the previous one is lost in the pile! At work, we have people to compare ourselves to and the pressure to maintain a semblance of tidiness and organisation can keep us in check. At home, there are no such judgemental eyes, so unless you want to wade through mountains of random papers to find a relevant one, you will want to invest in storage options. They may not be the most visually inspiring thing to keep in your office, but a filing cabinet might be just what you need!
Those are our top tips to consider when you’re creating your home office space. One last tip we have for free: make sure you are stocked to the gills with equipment. The last thing you need is to have a deadline but then run out of printer ink or have used up your last pen. Your office might have had a stationary cupboard, but you’re going to have to go to the shop!
Best of luck to you if you are designing your home office! Stay disciplined and try to ignore the fact that the TV is right there.