Working from home is an art. And, as millions of people have discovered over the past year, it’s not as easy as it seems. In fact, working from home can be downright unproductive if you don’t take the time to optimize.
In short, if your home office isn’t optimized, your work will suffer.
HOME OFFICES AND PRODUCTIVITY
This 2020 survey from Nulab looked at people who made the shift from working from an office to working from home, and there’s a lot to learn here. Only 28.6% of respondents were working from an actual home office, while a nearly identical 28.5% were working from their bedrooms. On top of that, 19.9% were using their living rooms as workspaces.
Interestingly, 35% of respondents said they were more productive, but 42.9% said they were less productive. These numbers make sense—after all, just as many people are working in bedrooms as home offices, and it’s likely that most of those home offices weren’t optimized.
However, when work environments are carefully designed, productivity skyrockets. In a Capital One survey, 90% of respondents said they perform better in well-designed workplaces. In addition, a well-lit and well-ventilated workplace can increase satisfaction by 24% and productivity by 16%.
Thankfully, there are some simple changes you can make to drastically improve your productivity while working from home. Here are five simple tips for designing an effective home office space.
1. DESIGNATE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE.
Working from home is already rife with distractions so, if your workspace isn’t explicitly set apart from the rest of your home, your productivity will plummet.
If you can use an entire room, fantastic. If not, designate a portion of a room solely for your home office. There needs to be a clear separation between your home and your office, whether that’s created by distance or physical barriers (like privacy screens).
2. INVEST IN GOOD EQUIPMENT.
You are a one-person business, and your home office is your HQ. If you want to get the most out of your HQ, you need to put something into it, and that means investing in high-quality tools that will help you do your job.
A good rule of thumb is to buy the best equipment you can afford. Focus on the basics first: computer, desk, chair, peripherals, lighting, organization/note taking, etc. Investing in these tools will ensure that you have the least amount of friction between you and your work.
Also, you might want to consider a standing desk. These are more expensive, but it’s nice to be able to alternate between sitting and standing. (I’ve been using a standing desk for several years, and love it.)
3. FOCUS ON AESTHETICS.
When you’re designing your home office space, don’t skimp on appearance. After all, In order to be productive, you have to like how your workplace looks and feels.
Look for furniture that meshes with your design preferences. Think about what kind of workspaces you tend to like. Do you prefer cozy wooden offices or wide-open minimalist work stations? If you’re feeling stuck, try surfing Instagram for inspiration.
4. KEEP IT CLEAN!
While people have long romanticized the idea of a genius with a messy desk, the truth is that clean desks are generally better for freelancers. It’s much easier to organize what you have and find what you need, which in turn reduces the amount of friction you have to experience on a daily basis.
5. GET SOME OFFICE PLANTS.
It’s amazing what plants can do for your productivity and overall well-being. One study found that adding plants to the office boosted productivity by 15%. Plants can also increase cognitive skills, improve air quality, and reduce stress.
Whether you have a few small succulents or an entire jungle, you’ll feel happier and perform better thanks to the power of greenery.
A well-designed home office is one of the most important investments you can make as a freelance writer. If you don’t currently have a proper home office, then consider making it a priority. It’s a serious upgrade and one that you’ll be glad you made.
Ian Chandler is a freelance writer and Head Instructor at Writing Launch.
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