Shifting into a more remote work-from-home arrangement, or looking to be more productive in your own spare time? Setting up the perfect home office is key to accomplishing your new work goals in 2021. Take it as the first step towards a year of success for you. To help you get started, we’ve highlighted the important things to consider and steps you should be taking to get your workspace just right for you!
The ideal home office environment
Perhaps the most simple but important aspect of a good home office is choosing the environment it is in. Find a space which you can dedicate solely as your home office, and put effort into mentally keeping it separate from the rest of your home. Having this degree of separation and distinction is necessary, not only to allow you to to feel productive "in the office" within your home, but also to get you accustomed to shifting your mindset to "work" when in your home office. On top of this, in a work from home scenario your privacy can be more difficult to maintain, which an enclosed space helps achieve. It can be all too easy to fall into the comfort of working in a home office, lowering your productivity from what you are really capable of. In a best-case scenario, this could be a spare room, but if this isn’t available try getting creative with room dividers and rearranging what spare space you have to work with.
A well organised space is critical for keeping you in a good mood, as a tightly-packed and cluttered space can lead you to feel boxed in and pressured over time. This means that you should set up your home office in an area with enough space for you to get up and stretch, walk around, and not feel cramped. This ties into another crucial factor of every home office, which is the lighting. There should be sufficient ambient lighting which illuminates the whole home office area, but also targeted soft lighting at your desk or work area. Natural lighting is hard to beat, so make use of it by positioning your workspace around it, taking care to avoid glare throughout the day. Although bluer ‘cold’ lighting is preferred for productivity, take liberty in choosing artificial lighting (ambient or lamps) that pleases you in terms of temperature/colour.
Carefully setting up the basic environment of your home office ensures that you are operating at your best state and not losing focus — the effects on your productivity and mood can be more profound than you think. Every little detail helps to keep you on track to achieve those new work goals in 2021!
Now let’s focus and lose the distractions
We can all repeat this one - distractions, distractions, distractions! The biggest antagonist to a productive home office is the little distractions that sneak their way in over time, or the ones we leave in at the start. You’ve no doubt had those moments of deep focus broken when you unconsciously fixated on a distraction, and forget your entire train of thought. Keep only the bare essentials that you will regularly use on your desk and within reach of your work station, and anything else that may prove useful from time to time nearby but out of sight. Make sure to maintain this in the future, as once you grow comfortable with your workspace you may find yourself leaving things around out of habit. Having something such as a cabinet or bookshelf behind you to store personal effects and work reference material helps you keep an efficient work station with everything in reach.
It can be very tempting to include decorations, stress-relieving toys and such to add some personal flair to your home office, but be truthful with yourself on whether they have a place in your immediate view. A neat idea for small home offices involves placing a diffuser to provide a pleasant scent, but be wary of whether this helps you focus or distracts you instead.
There are other distractions that can crop up working in a home office, such as thoughts about meals. Plan these ahead of time, try to eat meals outside of your office, and use timers to keep track of how long you spend on breaks — I can vouch first-hand on how easy it is to lose track of time at home! Using a traditional timer instead of your phone also helps you stay off devices for non-work-related purposes, and can also help schedule blocks during your day to allocate to specific tasks. Having a prioritised planner in your home office can help with reducing downtime, as you can keep track of tasks as they crop up as well as plan ahead for the next day so you can pick up right where you left off.
Optimising your work station for optimal productivity
Investing in the right equipment for your work station is another factor that dictates the comfort and productivity of your home office, helping you get it perfect. Often underestimated, the humble chair can greatly influence your home office experience in terms of physical comfort and productivity, alongside being important for health reasons. A good office chair is one that encourages an upright sitting posture, provides adequate lumbar support, and ultimately feels comfortable to you. Having an ergonomic and adjustable chair can help reduce muscle pain and other musculoskeletal complications, with many guides available on what aspects to consider when buying one. There is a wide selection of options to choose from, offered by retailers ranging from Warehouse Stationery to Harvey Norman, so shop around! If you are especially tall or short, you may also want to consider getting an appropriate table to match your chair, so that you maintain a good work surface height, keeping your hands almost perpendicular to your upper arms.
To avoid a strained neck and back from looking down on your laptop screen for 8 hours a day, a laptop stand, a a keyboard and a mouse can really help with getting the right set up for comfort. You can easily order and these items up delivered to you affordably and quickly. Check out our Guide to Online Shopping.
As always, your health and wellbeing comes first.
Many people have moved towards laptops as the primary device for work, away from desktop computers, as laptops have become just as technologically capable. However, having a separate monitor can bring great benefits in terms of viewing ease and increased productivity. Having a monitor mounted high up on your desk, above your laptop, allows you to have a second (much larger) screen to help multitask and keep track of different programs/documents. If you use a desktop computer, it may also help to have a second monitor for the same reasons, especially if you normally find yourself flicking between documents, programs or tabs, or if you need to constantly refer to material as you work. Many online tutorials exist to help you set up two monitors under one device, such as that provided by Microsoft. Don’t be afraid to invest in any other additional equipment that might be relevant to you, such as a printer or a new network router. For example, if the household is busy and bustling when you are working, you may also want to consider noise-cancelling headphones to bring some more peace into your home office.
Simplifying your life admin with Quashed
Having that perfect home office makes your home an even bigger part of your life, and consequently makes Home and Contents insurance all the more important too! Check that your Home and Contents insurance policy is still in place. Keeping on top of your insurance policies whilst juggling your daily responsibilities can be a tiresome affair, so why not try Quashed and make insurance simple! Quashed lets you store, view and organise all your different insurance policies all on one platform, easily accessible on your mobile too!
Setting up your home office is another step closer to freedom, giving you more control of your workflow as well as the opportunity to maximise your productivity output. Whatever your work goals are for 2021, hit the ground running with a comfortable and effective home office!