Over the last year, working from home has become relatively routine. Although we have nearly reached the end of the pandemic, it is possible that many people have found home working so effective that companies will choose to leave their staff as remote workers and save money on office and building costs. However, it can also be a little bit distracting to be in your home all day, every day, so you need to make sure that you can create a suitable office space where you work and leave it at the end of the day. It is crucial that you consider the location, you have good hardware to work on, and other factors that we will discuss in this article. So just how do you turn a home into an efficient office?
You may be lucky enough to have a choice of location, or practically it may only make sense for you to work in one place. However, you should try and make sure that this has natural light and adequate ventilation and is away from the distractions of things like the washing machine and the laundry pile. Some people have a garden office, convert their garage, or work in the attic depending on how long they intend to run their business at home. Of course, if you are working from home because you are combining it with childcare, you may need to be in the main body of the house to keep an eye on the little ones. If space really is a premium, tucking yourself in the corner of your living room or bedroom can equally work well as long as you plan it properly.
The equipment you need in your home office will vary according to what it is you do for a living. Generally, most home offices require some kind of computer setup, and this will either be provided by your company or yourself. If they give you a desktop rather than a laptop, you will have to work around that, but laptops do have the advantage, if available, of being able to be portable and move around the house with you. Some jobs require a printer, whereas others simply do not. Are you going to need special telephone equipment? Or does your mobile on the desk near you suffice? For many people, paper is an outdated premise when it comes to working, and a genuinely virtual job means you do not need storage for files or documents, but if you do again, you need to consider this. It is pointless having to trek all the way through the house to retrieve a file and then go back to your desk.
One thing about offices is they tend to be ergonomically correct. The desks, while rather dull, are a uniform size and the chairs adjustable so that you can correctly set yourself up to place minimal strain on your back and shoulders. If you are working at home from a laptop, it can be very tempting to sit on the sofa, but this can also lead to ongoing back issues. If you do use a laptop, you also have to guard against the fact that you are usually looking down at the screen, which can place strain on your neck. The advantage of a desktop PC is that you can raise the screen to an eye-level height, and the separate keyboard can be placed on a desk that works well with fewer arms and hands. Working at home, you also need to ensure that you take regular breaks and get up and stretch your legs. In an office-based environment, people tend to pop into each other’s spaces and have a chat, wander to the coffee area, or get up and down for the toilet. Snuggled up at home with your belongings around you and no colleagues to talk to you, it can be very tempting to stay sitting down for hours at a time. Many smartwatches and other devices can set a timer to remind you to stand up and stretch.
Depending on your working style, there are various ways to keep track of your productivity and goals. Some people like a large whiteboard or notice board where they can update progress and cross things off. Others prefer to use software packages that help track progress. Things like ToDoist and Asana are great for recording tasks and seeing your to-do list shrink at the end of the day. Voice assistants are also a good way of aiding productivity when you are working from home so take advantage of these if you have them. If you are more visual, you may want to print out various tasks and stick them to a whiteboard or use posters to create a list. Again, it depends on how much space is available to you.
If you are going to be doing a lot of work on your computer, you do need to consider the lighting. Eye strain is another worry for people who spend the whole day looking at screens. It is vital that you ensure a good source of natural daylight and some fresh air and take advantage of settings on your monitor and phone that philtre out some of the most aggressive blue light. Of course, one benefit of working from home is that you can have your choice of music in the background, providing it does not act as a distraction.