Remote working has become part of our “new normal”. Employers and workers are reaping the benefits of a workforce that telecommutes, either full or part-time – better work/life balance, less stressed employees, and higher productivity, to name a few. And with high-quality, simple-to-use apps and software for video conferencing, a remote workforce can stay connected and collaborative.
If you are starting remote work, the first thing to do is set up your home office. There are no hard and fast rules for home offices – a quiet kitchen table might provide all you need – but to succeed you’ll need to maximize productivity, no matter what kind of industry you work in. Here are some tips for setting up your home office.
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Space and layout
Where you set up your office within your home is something you will need to decide for yourself, and based on very subjective considerations. You’ll need an area where you won’t be disturbed by children, animals, or housemates – especially if you are needed in a lot of video meetings. Most home offices are fairly compact, which is why you will have to plan the layout carefully. Make the most of natural light – and a window with a nice view is great if you can get it.
One of the worst things about working at a desk is the physical effects of sitting in an uncomfortable or ergonomically unsound chair. The wrong seat can cause backaches, neck aches, and even stomach aches. There have been countless studies into the ill effects of perching on the wrong chair, and workers with ergonomic chairs report less back ache which means increased productivity.
No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll probably have been frustrated by having to flick between different programs or having a cluttered screen. An extra monitor makes it easy to cross-reference between spreadsheets, databases, emails and messaging tools, meaning less aggravation and greatly increased productivity. Monitors can be found to suit any budget and go from fairly basic to ultra-high definition.
Although the trend these days is towards paperless offices, the reality is that we still need to print off many documents. There are ranges of great home office printing solutions available which are compact without sacrificing quality. Finding the right model for your needs depends upon how you use the printer – there are workhorse models for heavy use, as well as those that give high-quality color prints. Many printers also feature scanning and faxing features to help maximize your productivity while saving space.
Just as a good chair can help you when working from home, a desk is equally important. Sitting for extended periods of time is linked to – amongst other things – obesity, which can lead to heart problems or diabetes. There are a number of models on the market that switch between sitting and standing mode – standing up is good for your posture, your muscles, your back and even helps with your digestion. Needless to say, your productivity gets a boost as well. And of course, your desk will need to be the right size to accommodate all your working needs – there is nothing more annoying than rearranging everything whenever you need to find a document.
Almost all of us use video conferencing apps such as Zoom or Google Meet. These are incredibly easy to set up on your computer or mobile device, and with inbuilt cameras and microphones the norm, this couldn’t be more idiot-proof. Having said that, a more professional set-up, with an external microphone and webcam, or headset, will mean guaranteed sound and picture quality from the word go. This means less messing about at the start of meetings and interviews, ensuring a smoother experience which again, gives productivity a boost.
Office lighting plays a critical role in our productivity. Of course, natural light is best, if you are blessed with large windows. But if not, variable temperature lights can help boost productivity or aid relaxation. A stylish desk lamp is essential, and depending on your job you may need additional task lighting to help you throughout the day. But mood lighting is also important in an office – traditional workplace lighting can feel a bit austere.
A successful home office is one that runs smoothly without compromising your well-being. These tips will help you maximize your productivity, helping both you and your business.