The advent of the information age has led to a number of innovations in the way people work. One of the most significant of these is the internet-enabled working from home trend. With powerful broadband connectivity now available almost everywhere, and with more and more jobs reliant on managing or accessing information via the web, working from home is, in many cases, both practical and efficient.
That being said, home working environments can vary greatly in appeal. From constant interruptions to uncomfortable furniture, the convenience of working from home can be counteracted by a variety of factors. To make working at home as productive as possible, designing your home office to be as conducive as possible to getting work done is imperative.
Physical comfort can play a big part in working productively. In designing the perfect home office, make sure to think ergonomically as you put together your plan. With more and more people working in front of a screen in the information age, health issues associated with doing so have come to the fore. These include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result from spending too much time typing on a keyboard. A number of health ailments which can be caused or exacerbated by spending too much time sitting.
Ergonomics, which stresses suiting the surroundings to the individual, rather than the other way around, can be used to avoid many of the health problems associated with poorly designed workspaces.
- To combat the risk of carpal tunnel, you may want to purchase an ergonomically designed mouse or keyboard.
- A standing desk, which typically features the ability to accommodate both sitting and standing postures, can be used to help combat the danger of sitting at your desk for an unhealthy amount of time.
- Ergonomic chairs are also worth considering – by accommodating a relaxed sitting posture they can help you be more productive on a daily basis.
A home office that is inundated in stray folders, files, paperwork or other material is unlikely to inspire your creativity, and is likely to harm your productivity. To build a perfect home office that allows you to work as efficiently as possible, do your best to design is so that it makes it easy for you to stay organized.
To accomplish this, an organizational plan is essential. One can be formulated as follows:
- Set aside space to keep items you use on a regular basis in a place where they can be easily accessed
- Items that are not used often can be stored in a location that is not as easily accessed. This could be a file cabinet or other form of storage located outside of your home office; a storage room or the garage, for example
- In some cases, to keep the perfect home office as organized as possible, you may want to store items that you rarely use at an offsite storage facility or other remote location
- Have a system for filing any paperwork that must be kept in the office. In this day and age, a tremendous amount of data can be stored digitally, cutting down on the need to keep paperwork, but there are some professions where it is still necessary
- Your system for filing paperwork should focus on getting it off your desk as quickly as possible and into a file where it can be stored
Focus on Lighting
While it may seem like a minor part of setting up the perfect home office, lighting can be a key factor in creating a productive environment. Natural light has been shown to help reduce stress, and lighting in general is known to be a factor in our overall feeling of contentedness. As a result, it makes sense to make lighting a key component of your home office design. If your office doesn’t feature a window, you can use lights that replicate the look of natural lighting. To save space, it may be worthwhile to invest in hanging lights.
One aspect to be cognizant of is how your office is lit during different times of day. If the room is oriented so that the sun causes intense glare at certain times of the day you may want to install heavier drapes or blinds, so you can shut out the light during those periods, but then allow natural light to enter the room when the sun is less intense.
While establishing an efficient organizational system for your office is crucial for enhancing your productivity, if you allow your desk to be covered in papers, cups of old coffee, and other forms of clutter such an environment is unlikely to serve to spur you to function at peak productivity. To avoid this, keep your desk clear of everything except for a writing implement or two, your calendar (if it’s not computerized), and your computer (or computer screen).
Other items should be removed and stored and trashed during the course of the day to keep your desk clean, helping you focus on what you have to do that day instead of what’s on your desk. Having an organizational system, as described earlier, and sticking to it is key to cutting down on clutter. Once you’ve established such a system, make sure to follow it religiously and you should be able to keep clutter in check.
Personalize Your Space
To make your working environment at home as appealing as possible, customize your space to reflect your personality. You can take advantage of a wider variety of decorative and functional items at home than you could at a work office. Instead of restricting yourself to small plants and pictures of the family, you could add a big-screen TV to the office if there was space, or cover the wall with prints of your favorite art.
You might add a bean bag or a recliner for comfortable lounging if you wanted to take a break from sitting at your desk. A surround sound system is another option, as is a deluxe desk chair or any other item designed to add creature comfort to your office. Take advantage of your control over your office space to add whatever makes you feel the most comfortable to the office. You'll surely feel the difference when you'll see how much easier you'll be handling your daily tasks after applying the change!
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