Working from home, also known as telecommuting, is an ideal situation for a lot of people. Not only do workers feel more productive when working from home, but it also assists in creating a more ideal work-life balance. In 2008, 1.7 million employed Canadians worked from home at least once a week. This trend of working remotely is continuing to increase as more and more companies are offering this type of flexible work arrangement. Some workers feel they more efficient and experience less distractions when they have this opportunity. Employers can reduce their overhead expenditures, experience higher morale, increased work productivity, and retain employees.
In a recent survey, What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers, findings confirmed remote workers are happier, feel more valued, and are more productive. The survey even found there was better, more detailed communication with managers/supervisors and goals and objectives were clearer. However, when working from home, it is important that a home office set-up isn’t too casual or too formal – it needs to be just right!
Setting Up a Good Home Office
There needs to be a distinction between your home and your work space, otherwise you run the risk of poor work-life balance due to the inability to separate the two. Separating yourself from the two ensures during the work hours you are doing your work, not getting consumed by binge watching the latest TV series on Netflix.
Some things to consider when designing your work space are:
- What will you be doing in the space?
- Will anyone be visiting the space?
- What type of materials will be stored or needed?
- Will you be making conference calls or video conferencing?
- When will you be doing the bulk of your work?
Next, consider where your office will be in your home. This is critical in the set-up process. Again, there needs to be a clear distinction between home and work-life. You cannot mix the two. Your office can be in a spare bedroom, basement, converted closet, or another room that isn’t used all that often. Wherever you choose, it needs to be your work space. If you set-up your office in a shared room (e.g. the basement), try creating some sort of partition to physically distinguish your workspace vs. home-space.
This work space needs to have all your work items, so you can easily retrieve them. Your workspace will need the appropriate furniture, equipment, lighting, and privacy. Adequate lighting is essential for your home office. Try to get as much natural light as possible, and position your desk close and parallel to the window. In addition to natural light, table lamps are said to be preferred with a soft glow, which promotes stress relief compared to overhead lighting, which is more unappealing. Furthermore, corrective lighting can ease bright glares from the computer screen and lessen eye strain and migraines.
The layout of the space and organization is important for productivity and efficiency, as well as ergonomics. Your work station needs to be ergonomically sound to ensure you are minimizing health and safety issues that can arise due to poor positioning and posture. Having a proper desk and chair is important. Doing your work on the couch or bed can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and will be more of a detriment to your productivity than a comfort.
Paint colour is also an important factor when designing our workspace. Colour can have impacts on your mood, energy, perception, focus, productivity, and performance. There is tons of literature on colour psychology and various recommendations on what colours are best for each room in your house. Predominately the colour red affects the body, blue affects the mind, yellow affects self-confidence, and green affects the balance between mind, body, and emotions. If you choose a bright colour, use it as an accent wall with a more natural colour for the remaining walls. However, colour is subjected to the individual.
Personalize the space by adding greenery and personal mementos. Having plants in your office space, such as aloe, spider plants, succulents, cactus, or a peace lily contribute to increased focus, productivity, and cleaner air to breathe, as well as reduces sickness and noise. Add some personal touches that make you happy, a family photo or a picture of your dog, a framed record or some sort of sports memorabilia. Something simple. You don’t need your entire collection of Star Wars figurines watching you work, that might be a bit too much. You want personal items that afford focus, not distraction.
The space needs to be your own. It needs to be a space that makes you want to be there. The space and the items in it should positively influence and enhance the work that you do there; and that makes for a happy, productive worker, a satisfied employer, which have positive effects on the bottom line!
Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer
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