A few of you may remember that late last year we published a post named How To Create The Perfect Home Office (And Why You Should). While we could already see the huge benefits of incorporating a home office into your dwelling back then, we obviously had no idea that so many of the UK workforce would be working from home in 2020...us included!
As the trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the post from a different angle: productivity. Working from home can be challenging as we’re often surrounded by distractions that we love, be it pets, kids, entertainment, food, the garden...the list goes on.
So, what to do? Read on to see how creating a productive home office can make a huge difference to your working day and allow you to get things done quicker (which will, in turn, give you plenty of time for those distractions once you’re done!).
Find the quietest nook
Naturally, we’re generalising here to some extent, but most of us will work far better in peace and quiet rather than being surrounded by noise and chaos. While a few carefully selected tunes, or the cat gently snoring in the corner, won’t necessarily impact productivity, things like washing machines at full spin or a housemate's constant phone chatter likely will, so always opt for the quietest spot wherever possible.
Although many will not have the luxury of a room for the sole purpose of work, seeking out the quietest spot in your home will still pay dividends when it comes to being more productive. If you don’t have a specific room for your home office, there’s something else you need to consider, too...
Do have a designated work area
If you haven’t got an actual home office to retreat to, it’s still absolutely vital to have a designated area to go to for the sole purpose of work. Now, that may be the kitchen table for some or the bedroom’s dressing table for others but, regardless of where it is, you do need to pick your spot and stick to it.
Selecting a single location for work sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to focus, and it’ll also give you a degree of separation once the working day is done. If you’re sharing your home with others, consider investing in some good quality noise-canceling headphones to help lock you into the task at hand and keep distraction to a minimum.
Keep desk clutter to a minimum
A cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, and that’s no recipe for productivity. Flat surfaces are a magnet for clutter. Cups, letters, phones, books, wallets, keys, pens, and just about anything else you can think of, will easily find itself at home on your work desk, so you have to be ruthless.
Of course, an entirely empty desk can be counterproductive, as you’ll no doubt end up searching for the Post-It notes or something, but you do want your workspace to be as clear as possible. Balance, once again, is your friend here, so choose what stays and what goes wisely.
We all know the importance of ergonomics, but working from home can see that wisdom fly out of the window pretty rapidly, especially if you’re only working remotely on the odd occasion. It’s all too easy to flop onto the sofa rather than sit at a table like an adult. Laptops were built for laps, right?
While that may be true, when it comes to productivity, balancing your comfort levels is key. Hard wooden chairs that constantly have you shifting your weight around are no good, but nor is that favourite armchair that always has you yawning. You want the Goldilocks solution. Something comfortable enough to maintain focus, but not snoozy comfortable.
Think about colour
If you’re lucky enough to have a specific room for your home office, choosing the right colours can have a dramatic impact on your productivity, both negatively and positively depending on what you select. Color psychology is surprisingly powerful, which is why big brand names spend so much on such things to ensure they get it right.
All is not lost for you kitchen table warriors, though. While you may not be able to repaint the walls in the correct colour to boost your output, you can still surround yourself with items that nod towards it. Just remember the minimal clutter rule if you go down this route.
And lighting, too
Lighting is just as important as colour selection. In fact, for some professions, it could easily be argued that the light you have in your home office is more important than anything else.
Natural light is always going to be the clear winner here, but sometimes Mother Nature herself can let us down and opening every blind in the house seems to make little difference. Then there’s the fact that some rooms never seem to have enough light, even on the brightest of days.
So, be sure to arrange your office to make as much use of natural light as you possibly can, but also have some good artificial options at your disposal for days where it’s necessary. Oh, and always remember to take screen glare into account. Squinting all day isn’t going to make you work faster.
Add a plant or three
A key aspect of a productive home office is making the space you’re working in as pleasant as possible. Adding a few plants around your workspace helps enormously in this regard, and they also have the additional benefit of keeping the mind calm and engaged in the work you’re doing.
A study by the University of Exeter back in 2014 showed that ‘green’ offices can increase productivity by as much as 15%, so it definitely makes sense to get a few houseplants around you when working from home.
Equally, if your home office looks out onto your garden, setting the room up so that you can enjoy the view will have a similar effect. Just don’t get too tempted to go outside when the mercury rises!
Obviously, all of the above should be used in conjunction with all the usual productivity advice, such as taking regular breaks, starting early, setting boundaries with distracting people you may live with, and, erm, actually getting dressed in the morning. Hopefully, when you put everything together, you’ll find your working day easier, more fulfilling, and, yes, more productive. It’s certainly worked for us.
If you’re finding yourself working from home more than usual since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in, and look set to spend more time doing so moving forward, you may be considering a change in living space to accommodate the shift. If so, and you’re in or around Wanstead, East London, give us a call to find out how we can help make things happen for you.
We have been operating in E11 for well over a century, so we know the local property market like no other estate agent in the area. Our friendly team of experts are always happy to answer any questions you may have, so drop them a line. That designated home office may well be closer than you think!