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Due to unprecedented circumstances, remote work has become the new normal. While working from the comfort of your home excludes the daily commuting expenses, it might not be easy for some of us to adapt to this drastic change in our working environment. That’s why it’s imperative to have a congenial yet efficient working space at home to ensure your ongoing productivity.
A great working space is pivotal to ensuring that you are productive, efficient, and have a positive work-from-home experience.
5 Hacks to help you create a vibey space
1. Set up a Functional Working Space:
Whether you plan to work on a desk in your room, the kitchen nook or in the formal dining area, it’s important that you identify the area where you’ll be working so as to create a sense of ‘ownership’. Next, organise your working space in an efficient way so as to create a serene yet productive ambience.
When you’re working remotely, it’s critical to have a quiet space so as to minimise any distractions that would impede your productivity. And, yes Netflix playing quietly in the background is still a distraction. Most of us work well in the humdrum of the office environment, and the deafening silence could actually prevent you from concentrating. So, when you’re planning your work-from-home space, create one that’s inspiring and visually appealing. Colour yourself productive and choose objects that stimulate and inspire creativity.
According to a colour psychologist, Angela Wright, blue hues stimulate the mind, red hues affect your body, green hues create a serene balance and yellow inspires creativity. Evidently, various saturations and intensities of these colours also influence your productivity.
One of the most important aspects of being productive is to ensure you’re comfortable. By this we mean, get yourself a comfortable chair and adjust it to an ergonomically suited position for the length of your arms and the eye-level height of your screen. Adjust everything and test – adjust your chair, desk (if you can) and ensure your legs are parallel to the floors and your upper arms are at a comfortable, 90-degree angle to the floor. You’ll know you’ve reached an ergonomic position when almost everything is within an easy reach without feeling any strain on your muscles.
On the subject of straining, ensure that your chosen workspace is well lit so that your eyes are not excessively strained. A light that is too harsh or too dimly lit will impede your productivity, not to mention it could result in frequent headaches. In addition to a well-lit workspace, ensure your body is maintaining its optimal basal temperature. If you have the budget, installing an energy-efficient control system that automatically adjusts the temperature (and in some cases the lighting) could be a good investment because nobody was ever productive wearing four layers of clothing.
2. Reduce Energy Costs
Working from home will certainly help you in reducing the commuting costs and your carbon footprint, so that’s a win. However, the increased usage of heating and lighting might lead to skyrocketing electricity bills.
This increase in costs can be remedied by a reduction in energy consumption which can be triggered by installing a smart thermostat. The motion detectors automatically control the energy usage by turning off the heat in a room which you are not using.
Another available option is to use an automation system that would allow you to customise the heat and lighting settings and control the energy consumptions according to your own preferences. You can also install energy monitors that give you an idea about which devices are consuming the most energy. Installation of a smart strip can also help to reduce energy consumption by shutting off the outlets which are not being used. If funds are tight, simply make a To-Do list to remember to unplug any appliances that are in ‘stand-by’ mode and turn off any lights in rooms that you are currently occupying.
A useful tip is that if you are working during the daytime, you should set up your workspace in a room that has access to natural light. The natural light helps you to have lesser dependence on artificial lighting and this could lead to a reduction in energy costs. On the contrary, if you are working during night hours, using a desk lamp with a broad illumination instead of turning on the lights in the entire room can be a very efficient way of minimising energy consumption as well.
3. Declutter your Workspace
We probably don’t have to say it, but you’re going to have to get organised. Ditching the clutter will significantly increase your productivity, not to mention your organisation. Most people prefer clutter-free workspaces as it increases motivation and their willingness to actually get stuck into their projects and tasks. Go minimal on the decorative objects and opt for ones that double up as functional storage.
Consider this: If you’re not using it every day, store it in your desk drawer. Overwhelmed by paperwork? Use a mobile scanner, or your phone – there are some Smartphones on the market that let you scan in high resolution with quality as though you used a physical office-based scanner.
Hidden charging stations that complement the interior design of your workspace can be installed inside desk drawers for convenience and clutter-free desk space. Installation of plug sockets on the floor below your desk or on a wall near it that is easily accessible can help you in charging your electronic devices conveniently without overcrowding your workspace.
4. Set a Schedule
While you may not be required to be at the office at a designated time, it is important to maintain a schedule to ensure you’re still being as efficient as possible. This will require you to plan and structure your daily schedule. When working from home, work and personal hours become muddled and oftentimes this leads to an imbalance of work and life largely as a result that you’re ‘always on’. Understand when you’re at most productive and organise your schedule around these times. While lounging around in your PJs can be fun, try to get dressed as you normally do for work but also set time aside to attend to chores around the house or running errands. Remember, you’ll be occupying more time in certain areas of your home while working remotely, for example, the kitchen – so you’ll need to set time aside to clean and tidy that area to ensure an optimal and clean working environment.
You can save a lot of time by installing a voice-activated solution such as Alexa and connect home functions to it which will help you in controlling your home systems without having to leave your workspace every now and then. However, it must be noted that getting up from behind your desk to stretch and perhaps do some face yoga is also very important to maintaining a level of attentiveness and soothe your tired eye muscles.
5. Stay Connected
There are various cohorts of people – the socialisers, the independents and the ring fencers – the latter who enjoy a bit of socialising but also enjoy working on their own. It is very natural to feel some form of anxiety as a result of social disconnectedness. We all have varying social styles and are rejuvenated by different social settings.
Look for ways to stay connected and socialise despite working remotely. Go beyond emailing and check in with your manager and coworkers over the phone or arrange Friday Virtual Check-Ins as this will help break the sense of isolation that often comes with working from home. Celebrate milestones, good news and birthdays with your team by finding creative ways to do so. There are many apps with great collaboration features including WhatsApp, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Slack that helps you stay in touch virtually. In the event that you don’t work in a team, there are fantastic podcasts that are geared exclusively towards the virtual environment and it also helps you stay abreast of what’s happening in and around the world.
Use these hacks to help you become more productive in your home office and add some hacks of your own. There’s really no hard-and-fast rules – find the ones that bring out your best and that work for you. The important thing is that you’re happy and motivated to tackle your tasks.
But, before we go… Did you know the ultimate way to really be the most productive while working from your home office, is to leave it every once in a while! Go for that walk, bake a loaf of banana bread, trawl social media – take that break!