As we approach the one year mark since we began the large-scale work-from-home experiment, the jury is still out on whether the home office is more or less productive than the physical office.
Sure, working remotely has the benefits that include a non-existent commute, the comforts of sweatpants, and elimination of certain workplace distractions. But inevitably, it also has its own fair share of unique factors that hinder your 9–5 productivity, such as kids and household chores.
Maybe you’ve tried different productivity tips and you’re still finding it challenging to remain engaged for the entire day. Or, you’re simply hoping to incorporate new methods and tools into your routine to find a better work-life balance. Either way, here is a guide with some simple hacks to help you maximize productivity in your home office.
What Makes a Productive Office?
A productive office layout has always been important for the success of a company. Before remote work took over, this was often reflected in how a company arranged the office. Ensuring optimal collaboration, creativity, and privacy, were the three main concerns of any management team.
In many ways, a productive home office can have these similar traits as a traditional office space. There are several things to keep in mind as you continue your quest for maximum productivity.
1. Start with an organized workspace
Staying on top of the cleanliness of your office is an easy start to maintaining, and even increasing, productivity. After all, a clean desk is a happy desk. It doesn’t do you any good if you’re wasting time trying to find a misplaced document or notes that have gone astray. Given the digital age that we live in, this applies to organizing files on your computer as well. Work to sustain a well-organized file system so that you can easily keep track of any budget sheets, presentations, or anything else you use from day-to-day.
Additionally, try to spend some time at the end of every week cleaning up around the office. Simply decluttering your desktop, wiping down surfaces, and a short vacuuming of the floor will go a long way in keeping your office looking its best. If you can’t make it to the store or are busy working extra time, take advantage of a cleaning products delivery app and have the supplies you need sent straight to your home. With cleaning essentials easily in reach, motivating yourself to do this quick Friday cleaning will never be easier.
2. Keep stock of the essentials
Your workflow will suffer if you don’t have the tools you need to stay productive. This includes office supplies and, of course, food. For your office, having a to-do list, pens and/or pencils, a calendar, post-it notes, and any other item that will help you stay organized, is a must. Keeping an ample supply of these around you constantly will help you stay on top of your agenda, and might even fuel your creativity.
Speaking of fuel, make sure to have healthy food and drinks around for when you need an energy boost. Keeping your office stocked with these essentials will help you stay focused throughout the day and be ready for any project.
3. Streamline team communication
At this point, everyone has heard of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and all of the other big names in work-from-home tech. They are all excellent resources in helping teams communicate with one another, creating an environment in which employees feel more connected with one another. Continue to use these tools to better your communication across the entire company. If there is a lack of transparency amongst your teams, suggest having an additional meeting every so often, which can help everyone feel more connected. Alternatively, if many meetings are seemingly redundant, you can always reduce their frequency to save time. Be adaptable and adjust accordingly so that you and your team will be successful.
Consider adding additional services to your toolbox as well. For example, actiPLANS can help you and your team automate time off and absence planning.
This enables you and others to plan projects around available resources, alleviating certain stresses on individual and team workloads. Tools like this can help create a more productive environment by streamlining communication across all employees.
4. Take meaningful breaks
Throughout the day, find ways to give your mind a breather by taking time to recharge with breaks. Instead of scrolling through social media during this time, find small tasks that will give you the pause that you need, while not disrupting your productivity. For example, you could go for a short walk, catch up on current events by reading the newspaper, or meditate. Whatever it may be, treat yourself with these healthy breaks to avoid burnout. Just be sure to time yourself so that you don’t forgo work for too long.
5. Bring nature indoors
As you know, taking walks outside can be a great way to boost your mood and productivity. But why not find a way to bring nature inside your office? If you can, arrange your office near a window because natural light can be energizing. Also, adding some plants to your workspace is a great way to liven up the room and brightens up the space. Much like spending time outdoors, office plants have many benefits, such as boosting productivity and improving your mood and health by removing toxins in the air. Adding a plant (or two) is a great way to add a little more life to your new and improved office.
6. Upgrade your furniture
In your office at work, you were likely provided an ergonomic desk chair, as well as other office furniture, helping you remain comfortable throughout the workday. At home, perhaps this has been neglected for some time now. Working from the comfort of your bed or couch is doable on the occasion, but having an ergonomic workstation in the long-term is important for your physical health as well as for your productivity. If you can afford to, invest in furniture, such as a sit-stand desk or a larger monitor, to reduce strain on your back and eyes. Alternatively, see if your employer provides a stipend or provides equipment for you to use while working from home remains in effect.
Incorporating new methods and habits in your daily work schedule will help keep your mind fresh and will likely boost your productivity. Consider this guide as a resource to finding ways to better manage your workspace, so that you can go to work ready to tackle whatever comes your way.