By this point in 2020, one thing is clear. Remote work will remain a reality for countless workers across the world.
A recent S&P flash survey shows that over two thirds of companies plan to maintain distributed workforces, regardless of the public health crisis. In the meantime, a third pandemic wave is driving telecommuting even among those teams hoping to go back to normal as soon as possible.
All of this means that working from home is no longer an emergency measure, but a business fixture. A well-designed home office has turned into an indispensable asset.
Here are five strategies to adapt your home office, or set one up from scratch – for maximum productivity during permanent remote work.
1 – Choose the Right Spot
In the long run, setting up shop at the kitchen counter or dining room table is unsustainable. It’s time to create a dedicated work-from-home area.
Without such a space, productivity suffers. Distraction lurks everywhere – from snacks beckoning in the kitchen to the lure of the living room TV. More than that, humans are creatures of habit. Working in the same area you sleep, eat, or relax in sends mixed signals. It’s infinitely easier to get into the right headspace for work in a consistent setting.
While a separate room is ideal, a living room corner will do the trick as long as you mentally delineate it as a workspace. Physical dividers can help, like a cheap screen to partition your living space into work and relaxation areas.
If you can, put some distance between your home office and noisy, distracting areas like the kitchen, kid’s room, or bathroom. You’ll also need enough power outlets and a good Wi-Fi and cell phone signal. Sufficient natural light is a major plus – it’ll help you stay awake and alert throughout a long day of work.
2 – Invest in Office Furniture
Once you’ve picked a designated home office area, you need to outfit it properly.
For a few weeks, there’s some novelty in typing sales reports on the couch, or drawing up stakeholder presentations perched on a barstool in the kitchen. In the long run, however, dedicated office furniture is essential for both your productivity and your health.
In a big office, an inventory manager might take care of ergonomics: supplying suitable office chairs and desks, managing multiple monitors, and handing out wrist guards and laptop stands. At home, it’s your job.
Laptop users are prone to unhealthy postures and wrist positions. Without proper equipment, working from home long-term can result in chronic pain – from back-aches to carpal tunnel.
Invest in an ergonomic office chair suited to your height and build. Make sure that you can adjust its height and inclination.
When looking for a desk, err on the side of bigger sizes. During busy periods, you’ll thank yourself for the space to spread out all your print-outs, notes, post-its, and writing utensils. And snacks.
A separate monitor, mouse, and keyboard will keep you from contorting yourself to work on a laptop. Even a cheap laptop stand and wrist supports can make your workspace healthier in the long run.
3 – Optimize Storage Space
Clutter and chaos don’t make for a productive workspace. You don’t have to be Marie Kondo to know it’s vital to clean up once in a while and chuck what you no longer need.
It’s just as important to plan ahead and include enough smart storage space in your home office when setting it up. Filing cabinets, magazine racks, and shelves can organize folders and boxes of files.
When you’re picking a desk, take a good look at the drawers and other storage space that it offers. It might even have a fold-out for extra desk space when you need it most.
Make use of your walls: Pegboards and pinboards can take office supplies and organize the notes and ideas you jotted on stray scraps of paper.
Smart office storage and organization lets you be more productive. Plus, it makes for a stunning backdrop for your video calls with clients or colleagues.
4 – Set up a Reliable Tech System
Reliable hard- and software are crucial to telecommuting.
While your remote team probably already has dedicated team collaboration and project management tools, creating the right tech setup in your home office is up to you.
When working from home permanently, fast internet is indispensable for high productivity. From HD video conferences with clients to speedy file sharing with colleagues, broadband and optic fiber connections are your friends. If your Wi-Fi is capricious, consider upgrading your router, or switching providers
While you may not end up using them often, having a printer and scanner at your beck and call is essential.
Finally, consider getting a good headset or noise-canceling headphones. These can boost audio quality during video calls, and concentration while you are working.
5 – Make it Your Own
While your home office shouldn’t be so cozy you’d rather relax than work in it, a few personal touches can increase your well-being and productivity in the long run.
Add a few splashes of paint to your office space, or hang some of your favorite artworks. Lively reds and oranges can stimulate, touches of pastel blues and greens can calm. Picking colors for your workspace that are distinct from the rest of your home also helps to set it apart in your mind.
Plants are another great addition. Research has shown that greenery doesn’t just do wonders for air quality, but also improves overall concentration and productivity.
Remote work is fast becoming a permanent feature of modern business life. Many workers will have to face the challenges of a home office sooner rather than later.
For permanent telecommuters, a well-designed, ergonomic home office is key to sustaining both long-term productivity and health.
By choosing the right spot, investing in office furniture and smart storage, setting up a reliable tech infrastructure, and adding a few personal touches, you’re on the right path.
With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to carve out a space to become your most productive self.