Whether you love it or hate it, working from home (WFM) is an adjustment. While you might enjoy having the flexibility that comes from working remotely, it can take some trial and error to develop a routine and define a space that helps you work efficiently and comfortably. You might skip a gnarly commute only to be hit with the demands of loved ones, conflicting schedules with roommates, and other distractions you might not have had to handle at the office. Left without your office’s amenities like ergonomic chairs and desks, free coffee (no matter how over-roasted), and your favorite coworkers just a cubicle away, you’re left to find your own sources of accountability.
It’s important to set up your work from home office space in such a way that will help you stay productive, connected, comfortable, and— dare we say— inspired.
Defining your work from home space.
At first, working from home might seem simple: just plop your laptop on the kitchen table and get to work. But, we know from environmental psychology that developing a defined workspace, in alignment with your own preferences and needs, can make a huge difference when it comes to your productivity and happiness.
Brian Barrett from WIRED puts it like this: “The point [of a defined workspace] is to clearly define the part of your house where work happens. That makes it more likely that you’ll actually get things done when you’re there, but just as importantly might help you disconnect when you’re not.”
So ask yourself— what kind of environment helps you get in the zone? Do you like privacy, quiet, and consistency? Then carving out a closed-door home office might be the best move. Do you thrive with background noise, some social pressure, and variety? Retreating to a coffee shop and finding ways to rotate around your home might be the best route for you.
If you’re living with your family, significant other, or roommates, it’s well worth your time to discuss your work styles and needs. Jill Hunt at PCMag suggests, “if you share a space with another adult who’s working from home, you may have to negotiate quiet times, meeting times, and any shared equipment, like desks and chairs.” That way, everyone can know each other’s boundaries, and together you can allocate workspaces that serve everyone.
Ultimately, though, there are a few steps that everyone, regardless of preferences, can take to maximize their cognitive performance and ease.
Add some green.
Those with a green window view or some house plants with which to co-work outperform those with industrial views and sterile spaces. Up your efficiency and lower your blood pressure with a natural view, some plants, or, given the lack of either, even nature sounds and pictures of bucolic scenes.
Shine with natural light.
If you can, work near a window. Natural light and improved ventilation (and, of course, a pretty view) are believed to enhance concentration and up cognitive ability. If a window seat proves a little too distracting for you, try placing your desk catty-corner to the window rather than right up against it. You’ll still reap the benefits of natural light and ventilation without direct distractions.
Declutter your space, declutter your mind.
A clear space makes for a clear mind. While decorating (or not) comes down to personal preference, offering yourself a “low-complexity” space is easier on your brain. If you love to surround yourself with meaningful mementos (a choice linked to higher job satisfaction), curate a selection of knick-knacks and photos that bring you joy without taking over.
Set the soundscape.
Again, the relationship between sound and background noise is very personal. Some people thrive with the kind of white noise you might find at a cafe; others prefer something quieter. However, complete silence is universally distracting, and, on the other side of things, human speech is the most distracting noise to our brains. So, maybe sub out your favorite podcasts for classical music, a flow playlist, or nature sounds. But, be sure to choose an ambiance you actually enjoy; otherwise, it’ll just become another distraction.
Upgrade your furniture.
Sitting on the sofa or a kitchen table all day will quickly take a toll on your body. Offices hire ergonomic experts to consult as they equip their offices with chairs, desks, and even keyboards. Maybe you can’t invest in a standing desk and Herman Miller chair all at once, but see if there are simple opportunities to upgrade your office furniture. Any office chair will offer more support than the stool at your kitchen island, and a forearm rest could go a long way to prevent pain and carpal tunnel.
If you plan to work from home for the long haul, it might also be worth it to invest in furniture that sets your monitors and keyboards at an ideal height for you. Galen Grumen from ComputerWorld says that “Your monitor should line up so that if you look straight ahead when sitting straight, your eyes are at the height of 25% to 30% below the top of the screen. That way, you keep your shoulders level and don’t hunch your back — two easy ways to cause injury.” You can adjust your monitor height using stands or if you’re in a pinch, books.
Check your tech.
You can have a nice comfy space, but if you don’t have reliable internet or the appliances you need to complete your work, you’re out of luck. Many people working from home find laptops the most versatile, but you know your job and work style best. Do you thrive with a bigger monitor (or two)? Are you on calls all day and need an excellent webcam and speaker system? Most offices supply their employees with the gear they need to succeed at their job, but when you start to work remotely, you might find that you’ve been left to your own devices.
Computer PROS can help you find the right equipment for your work needs and preferences. Here are some things to consider:
- Do you need to upgrade your laptop or level up to a desktop display?
- How many monitors do you need to do your job efficiently and comfortably?
- Does your computer have sufficient speed and storage for all your work needs?
- Is your WiFi reliable, and do you have a backup option if it goes out?
- Are the videos and speakers you have sufficient for the demands of your job?
- What kind of accessories do you need to optimize your performance? Are your keyboard, mouse, power hubs, and headphones helping you succeed or letting you down?
At Computer PROS, you can find all the equipment, accessories, and support you need to turn your home office into the workspace of your dreams. Our friendly experts are available to talk to you either on the phone or at our in-store location whether you know exactly what you’re looking for or would like help choosing the best gear and models to help you thrive as you work from home. Plus, we offer a wide variety of repair services to keep your existing technology performing at its best.
Give us a call at 615.383.8200 or stop by our store in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville today. We look forward to hearing from you.