Last year, we learned that the number of people working from home surpassed 1.5 million. And that begs a really important question…
Why are more people working from home?
Flexible working patterns are fast becoming the norm across a variety of sectors. This is because flexibility in the working day makes employees happier, more productive and far more likely to stay onboard.
As a result, businesses can expect increased output, a vastly superior quality of work and far lower recruitment costs thanks to improved staff retention.
Home working is directly linked to flexible working hours, and with technology enabling people to get stuff done wherever they happen to be, it’s no surprise more people are choosing to stay within the confines of their homes to ensure they do what’s expected of them.
While not for everyone (the distractions are often too much for certain people), working from home offers benefits that far outweigh any concern over a perceived lack of visibility or accountability.
Tuning the home working environment
If you’ve ever worked from home, you may have nodded your head surreptitiously at that last paragraph above; there’s no getting away from the fact that there are distractions aplenty if you choose to work from the same place in which you relax and spend time with your family.
There’s the TV, radio and lure of a piping-hot garden on a beautiful summer’s day to contend with. And that’s before the rest of your family and the ever-expectant dog make an appearance.
The key to work-from-home success lies in tuning your environment to make it the perfect place in which to be exceedingly creative and productive.
Here’s 7 ways you can do just that:
1. Set a clear distinction between where you work and where you chill out
Few of us are blessed with huge homes where we can house office space of which most businesses would be envious. That usually means we have to make do with what we have and cram our office into a space that doubles as chill out area.
It’s for this reason that such offices can be found in bedrooms, living rooms and even kitchens, and if you sit among the majority who have to ‘make do’ with one of these solutions, it’s vital that you create a clear divide between the work area and home life.
To do this, invest in a desk that can be shut away or – if practical – add a physical divide to make the boundary clear.
2. Give yourself the exact amount of space you need
So, we’ve already established that you don’t have oodles of space in which to work at home, but that doesn’t mean you have to cram your business into the smallest space imaginable.
On the contrary, make sure you give yourself enough space to be as productive as possible. This might mean re-arrange the room somewhat, but if you can fit in a sizeable desk, some greenery and enough empty space to inspire creativity, you’ll never feel like you’re simply ‘making do’.
3. Add some personality
Offices don’t have to be boring, and the fact that yours is located within your home gives you one significant advantage over traditional business environments: you can get ultra creative!
It’s your space, so do with it as you please. Add some funky wall art, exotic plants or a stylish desk lamp. Do whatever you need to do to give your home office personality, because it will need it if you’re to get to the bottom of that to-do list each day without going mad.
4. Invest in the best tech
Technology is a homeworker’s best friend, which is why it pays to stretch the budget a little in order to buy the best technology you can afford.
A speedy laptop or desktop computer is essential, but so too is a second monitor. Add to that productivity software that enables you to track your time, keep on top of your to-do list and stay in touch with colleagues, and you’ll build a technology cave of which Batman would be immensely proud.
Lastly, consider buying a fitness tracker of some form. Devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit’s range of bands will enable you to track calorie burn and the amount of time you stay active. Some even remind you to stand up if you’ve remained sat in your chair for too long.
5. Keep yourself fuelled
An unfortunate side effect of being ultra productive from your home office is that it’s alarmingly easy to either consume the wrong kind of stuff or forget to eat entirely.
Food is a vital part of the homeworker’s day, therefore you need to make sure you can easily stay topped up with refreshments as you go about your business.
A pod-based coffee machine is a sensible investment, as is a healthy stock of bottled water, fruit and food that delivers a healthy energy punch.
Don’t be tempted to buy an office-based fridge, either, because such devices will prevent you from standing up and making the journey to the kitchen – a vital bit of exercise that you’ll need to complete several times each day to keep your mind fresh and productive.
6. Get seriously comfortable
If there’s one area of your home office in which you need to invest considerably, it’s the chair and desk.
Think about it: you’ll be sat on that chair for incredibly long periods of time, and the desk is the piece of furniture on which you’re expected to complete a solid day’s work.
So, make sure you buy a chair that is as comfortable and ergonomically-sound as possible. Don’t settle for something that’s cheap and likely to both fall apart and give you a bad back within a few weeks. Similarly, the desk should be solid, durable and height adjustable to ensure you have the best posture at all times.
If the budget allows, you could do a lot worse than plump for a standing desk, too. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
7. Switch it up
The beauty of working at home is that you don’t have to stay glued to the same location each and every day. In a ‘normal’ office, you typically have a fixed desk location, and that can easily lead to procrastination and reduced levels of creativity; there are few things more stifling than being stuck in the same place for days on end.
At home, you can work wherever you like – particularly if all you need to get the job done is a laptop.
Try mixing it up by working in your designated office in the morning and moving into the kitchen for the afternoon. Do this randomly throughout the week and you should find that your productivity levels increase significantly as a result.
There – we told you: working at home doesn’t have to be a disaster. You can easily resist the lure of your TV and the calling of the garden deckchairs if you build an office environment in which you want to work.
However, it should be noted that our tips above aren’t foolproof – nor will they work alone. You need to be disciplined, organised and, above all, willing to be productive if you’re to benefit from the working environment you’ve created.
Few things come for free in this life, but follow our guide to tuning your home working environment and you’ll be well on the way to productivity nirvana!