According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, over half of the pre-COVID 19 working population began working from home.
If you are one of the new work-from-home group of people, there are several things you can do to increase productivity while maintaining maximum comfort in your home office.
1. Dedicate a Home Office Space
Creating a work mindset at home can be a challenge, especially if working from home is a new experience for you.
In order to establish clear boundaries between work and home, here are some suggestions that will smooth your transition and set you up for success in your home office.
Whether it is a corner of the living room or a dedicated office in your home, clearly establish your workspace and commit to keeping that space filled only with work-related items.
This means removing your grocery list or the laundry basket from this designated office space.
2. Clear the Clutter
Having a clear workspace that is organized and geared for work will establish boundaries between work time and time at home.
Keep this space tidy and organized by dedicating the last 5 minutes of your workday getting your home office ready for the morning.
A cluttered workspace equals a cluttered brain.
Give your brain and mood the best start to the day by creating the declutter habit at the end of your workday.
Your morning self will thank you.
3. Create a Brain-Break Rhythm
Having a rhythm to your workday will help establish periods of uninterrupted work time, followed by a bit of a brain break.
A healthy rhythm is one that balances a breathing-in activity, such as concentrated productivity, with a breathing-out activity, such as a short walk around the block.
Having this rhythmic balance to your day will increase productivity and reduce the temptation of distraction during concentrated work times.
Since you know that your time to breathe out and do something that gives your brain a break is already scheduled into your rhythm, it becomes easier to focus on your work.
For adults, taking 5 minutes per hour as a quick brain break is recommended.
When we are concentrating on work, our pre-frontal cortex is hard at work.
Your brain break, or breathing out activity, should be something that gives your prefrontal cortex a break.
Suggested 5-minute activities include a walk around your block, eating a healthy snack, a quick meditation, dancing to your favorite song, having a tickle fight with your child, throwing the ball for your furry friend, or whatever gets you away from the computer and brings joy to your day.
Setting a timer for work time and break time ensures you will stick to your rhythm and prevents you from feeling the need to watch the clock.
Honoring your body’s need for a brain break will increase your productivity, your level of concentration, and significantly reduce eye strain and decision fatigue.
It is also a great mood booster.
4. Dress for Work
As tempting as it is to work in your pajamas all day, getting dressed and ready for work as you did before you began to work at home will get you in the best mindset for work.
How we dress impacts our attitude and establishes a clear intention for you and your housemates that you are ready for business.
Being dressed for work also means that you are ready for any impromptu virtual business meetings with your colleagues or boss.
5. Avoid Distractions
While in working mode, turn off distracting phone notifications.
It is too tempting to follow up on your high school crush‘s latest Instagram post when you hear the notification chime.
Any personal notification that is not a necessity for work or family should be silenced until you are on a break or finished with your workday.
6. Proper Office Equipment
This is an important one. List the equipment you have at work that contribute to your productivity.
For some, that includes a high-quality computer, an ergonomic keyboard and office chair, a printer/scanner, or other miscellaneous office supplies.
Whatever your home office is lacking from this list, ask your boss if you could borrow the equipment from your company.
They also might have funds to help supply some of these items for their employees to use at home.
If you do end up purchasing some items from your personal budget, be sure to keep your receipts in case your company implements a reimbursement program.
These items may also be tax-deductible. Your accountant or tax service will be able to help you with this potential benefit.
7. Happy Body, Happy Work
Having proper posture with ergonomic support increases attention span and productivity.
But most importantly, it keeps you healthier.
Poor alignment or bodily discomfort can cause aches and pains that may prevent you from being as healthy or as happy at work or in life.
Not everyone has access to an expensive ergonomic office chair, especially when you work from home.
One solution to create a comfortable office chair that better aligns your body for seated work is to add a wedge cushion to your current office chair.
You can read more about this here.
Foot placement is also important for proper alignment.
If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor, then use a step stool to raise your feet to a more comfortable height.
This is good to try if you experience knee discomfort or if your legs tend to fall asleep while sitting at your desk.
8. Healthy Lighting
If you have the option to place your desk by a window, that is the best way to keep you awake and engaged during your workday.
Natural light boosts our serotonin levels, which means a happier, healthier state of mind.
No windows in your home workspace? No problem!
There are many styles of inexpensive therapy light lamps on the market that simulate sunlight.
These are not only used to boost moods but also to help reduce work-induced sleepiness.
You should also ensure you have a good task lamp if there is not sufficient natural light or overhead light.
Many office buildings use cool light, whereas homes typically use softer warm light.
Warm light is great for casting a relaxing glow, but it is not as suitable for creating a brighter workspace.
A task lamp will enable you to have the light you need to focus on while working.
Then at the end of your workday, it can be turned off with your work mindset so you can focus on relaxing at home.
Blue light filters are also something to consider in reducing eye-strain and improving sleep.
Blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm.
This means you might not be sleeping as deeply as you could be, which interferes with energy levels, mood, and your body’s ability to adequately enter into restorative sleep.
Blue light filters come in the form of screen covers and stylish glasses.
9. Stay Connected
If you worked in an office environment before COVID-19, then chances are work relationships were a big part of your socialization.
Healthy work relationships are well known to have a significant impact on job satisfaction and job performance.
Just because you are physically distanced from colleagues, doesn’t mean you have to distance your work relationships.
Utilize video conferencing, email, or phone calls to maintain strong connections.
Chances are, they are missing you too.
10. Keep Active
Working in an office often necessitates walking from the parking lot, walking to other people’s offices, walking to the restroom or break room.
These moments of incidental walking gets our blood flowing, helps reduce fatigue, and even boosts our immune system.
At home, there is less walking necessary throughout your workday, so be intentional in moving your body.
There are many equipment options available, from cycling desks, balance board feet rockers, to mini elliptical machines that can be utilized while at your desk.
Of course, dancing around the living room, doing 20 jumping jacks, or a 5-minute yoga sequence will do have the same effect at no out-of-pocket expenses.
11. Plant It
This isn’t referring to your planting your booty in your office chair.
Get a plant or two and keep them in view of your work area.
Plants are known to boost your mood and your health.
They are the most natural air purifier you can find.
Research shows that indoor plants increase productivity, boost the immune system, and reduces stress during work.
The same holds true whether your work is in an office building or if you work at home.
Work From Home in the Good Life
Making the transition from an external office to a home office requires planning and intention.
With some minor adjustments to your mindset, your home office space, and your routine can make this transition simple but satisfying.
With these work from home tips, you will find a healthy balance between solid productivity, optimal health, and happy home life.
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