Sunday Apr 02, 2023

Optimizing your home office for an office return in limbo – Fast Company


A 2021 study from Chicago Booth Review found 40% of employees say working from home is more productive than working in an office.

Some may shake their heads at this, unable to fathom the possibility. And I understand this feeling of skepticism. Personally, it took me many months to establish my own at-home work routine after shifting from an in-office 9-to-5 to freelance work. I spent months experimenting with my schedule and home-office setup to determine what made me most productive during my work hours at home.

Here are some ways you can accomplish the same feat.

Declutter your workspace frequently and keep it organized

Studies show that visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and make it difficult to focus. Thus, using your desk as a space to hold nonwork-related items is probably not the best idea. In fact, An Ikea study showed that we spend as many as 5,000 hours during our lives looking for things around the house.

As a result, I consciously try to remove the clutter from my desk daily. Most of the time, I find it better to clear away the accumulated stuff and gradually add things back if and when I need them.

Following a decluttering, I reorganize my essentials, positioning them so they’re always within arm’s reach. Pens, chargers, books, documents, and other things I use daily are displayed. Valet trays (like this option from the company Ugmonk) help me locate each item quickly. Other supplies I don’t need often are kept neatly tucked away in drawers.

Put your comfort first

Labor Department data indicate ergonomic injuries cost workers more productivity and lost time than other types of workplace illnesses.

While looking for a comfortable desk chair when setting up your home office might seem like an obvious first move, it’s not always the case. I opted for a (rather expensive) ergonomic chair from Herman Miller, so it took me a while to save up for this purchase.

Now, I’m not encouraging everyone to opt for high-end home office equipment, but it is important to prioritize your comfort long term. After all, you’ll be spending eight hours a day here, five days a week.

What’s comfortable for you will depend on how you work. A bike or standing desk may be better options if you want to stay active while working.

Set the mood for a productive work environment

Despite being inconvenient most days, commuting often helps prepare you for your workday; not an option when working from home. There’s no seamless flow between home and work life, making it hard to enter and exit “work mode.”

I discovered that setting the mood in my home office helped me create a transitory and more productive experience. A few things that helped me do this:

  • Scent and air-quality improvements. Data show quality indoor air increases employee productivity by 8% to 11%. I start by turning on my scent diffuser and adding a few drops of essential oils to create an inviting, productive atmosphere.
  • Lighting. When it gets dark early in winter, I set up a decorative yet functional lamp for softer, nonfluorescent lighting. This lamp offers warm, cool, and daylight settings. It helps me complete my tasks on days when my brain tricks me into thinking it’s late afternoon. For …….


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