About four million U.S. employees work from home, according to a 2017 report by Flexjobs. Remote work can give you more flexibility with your work-life balance and move you beyond your local job market. However, as with any job, working from home comes with its unique challenges.
For example, if you’re working from home, you may have to think about your house in a different way than usual and make it more conducive for working. There are also the practical details of finding a suitable location inside the home, dividing time between family and work, and avoiding distractions that come with an at-home work environment.
If you’re starting to work from home, here are a few things to consider when creating a productive workspace.
1) Location of the workspace
When selecting where to work inside your home, consider productivity along with convenience. Having the workspace in a kitchen may be convenient, but it might not be the best for productivity if someone is cooking meals or your kids are chatting while doing their homework at the kitchen table. Although it varies from person to person and situation to situation, working in any high-trafficked area within the home typically will affect productivity and creativity.
Possible locations for workspace
Depending on the size of your house (and the type of work you’re doing), there could be a variety of places around the home that boost productivity. The dining room or bonus room are popular choices for workspaces because they’re not frequently used and are often quieter and cleaner than other parts of the house. Since they’re relatively low-trafficked areas, they can quickly translate into vital workspaces.
With a spare room, you’ll get the added advantage of a door, so you can create a barrier between the workspace and the rest of the house, therefore minimizing distractions. A benefit of using the dining room is that it’s relatively clean compared to other rooms and it affords a lot of workspace for papers and other supplies. ]If you live in a smaller space and don’t have a dining room or spare room to utilize, consider converting a quiet corner of your house into your workspace.
As a remote worker, the onus will be on you to create a work-friendly atmosphere for yourself. Invest in ergonomic furniture that will help your posture and balance as you work and make your work environment more comfortable. If you are going to be working long hours in the workspace, consider buying a medicine ball chair that will allow you to get some exercise in during your shift.
If you’ll be working in front of a computer for long hours, set your table and computer at the right height to avoid unnecessary strain on your body and consider buying blue light glasses to protect your eyes from harmful blue light.
Taking breaks between your work is also essential to maintain focus and minimize the strain on your body. If you find it difficult to walk away from your work, set a timer on your phone every hour to remind you to take breaks—these breaks don’t have to be long: they can be a quick walk around your house or 10 minutes of deep breathing.
One of the challenges of working from home is that no supervisor is telling you when projects are due or checking in on you to make sure your work is getting done. To ensure that you meet your deadlines, create a daily schedule full of priorities and stick to it.
Make a note of any roadblocks you experience and jump on a call as soon as you can with your manager to discuss possible solutions. This will not only show that you’re serious about your work, but it proves to your boss that you’re actually working and are coming up with innovative ways to get your job done in the most efficient way possible.
Another way you can maintain productivity at home is by organizing items according to their frequency of use. These items may include your files, folders, and desk supplies. If you find that you don’t use folders or notepads, keep them tucked away in a drawer to prevent cluttering up your desk.
If your office desk becomes too cramped for your work materials, consider installing a shelf, cupboard, or side table to keep all work-related materials within the workspace.
4) Automated technology
Having the right technology is essential for maximizing your work output. With the right technology, you can automate several daily work processes to increase productivity. For example, you can use an email program to manage all your communications or different apps to access all of your frequently used programs quickly.
If you’re looking to add a desktop computer to your workspace, consider the processing speed and storage space of the device. You should also think about the connection ports, panel technology, screen size, resolution, and curvature of the device. With the mouse and keyboard, think ergonomic design since you will be using these devices on a daily basis.
In general, a desktop PC package usually includes a CPU, a monitor, speakers, a keyboard, and a mouse. Besides offered packages, you can make your PC by choosing compatible pieces from different providers. If you need to print documents regularly, consider buying a laser printer because they are faster than the inkjet variety.
Another factor to consider to make your home workspace as productive as possible is the speed of your internet connection. In some cases, a residential internet connection might not cut it, meaning you’ll have to look for a business internet plan instead.
Either way, make sure to pair your high-speed internet with a wireless router (this can be easily set up in almost any location within your home). If you don’t already have internet installed, take the time to research different internet service providers (ISP) before selecting one.
5) How you dress for work
Work-from-home jobs are sometimes advertised as “jobs you can do in your pajamas.” This may give off the wrong impression and cause a lapse in productivity: making a mental translation from relaxing in your home to working at your job becomes even more important than an office job.
Dressing appropriately for your work can help you in making this transition every day. While you probably won’t have to wear a suit at home, wear comfortable, casual clothes that aren’t your pajamas.
6) Workspace lighting
If possible, create a workspace that has both natural light and sufficient artificial lighting. Researchers have found that natural light can have a significant effect on productivity. Similarly, you would want enough artificial lighting to maintain a well-lit environment at all times.
Open any window blinds and make sure you have all lights turned on in the space. Good lighting can not only reduce the strain on your eyes but also make you more productive.
One of the easiest ways to transform your home into a productive workspace is to remove all visible and blatant distractions. If you have lights that continuously flicker or light bulbs that have burnt out, replace them with new LED lights that will last longer and save you money in the long run.
If you have an appliance that starts to break down and always makes noise, check its warranty and get it fixed as soon as possible. Additionally, if you have kids at home while you work, consider hiring a nanny or babysitter to help keep noise levels down and occupy the kids with games, exercise, or outings.