Flexible arrangements enabling employees to work from home are quickly becoming the new normal across many companies. In part, it’s a reflection of a digital workplace where collaborative tools like Slack and Google Hangouts pull together teams across locations. It’s also part of a holistic approach to wellness at work that hypothesizes that productivity and happiness levels rise in environments with flexible policies. In the UK, 68% of businesses are reported to have a work from home policy and 73% of employees now expect this from a company.
Policy or not, we find ourselves currently in a unique situation with the spread of coronavirus, and the implications this has on self-isolation and working from home. While this is a comfortable or appealing prospect for some, working from home – especially if expected to extend over more than a day or two – is a new uncomfortable reality to adjust to for many. Not every person was made to work from home, nor was every home created to be worked from. However, there are ways to adjust the home for productivity and here are some you can implement right away.
CLEAR SPACE, CLEAR MIND
According to a study published in Forbes, about 57% of people think that one’s work directly correlates with the tidiness of their office. Unless you have the luxury of a home office, you’ll need to find somewhere to work productively; and that may well end up being the kitchen table. Before you get going, there are a few easy adjustments you can make to the room. First, completely clear your space from clutter associated with your morning or evening routines. Becky Stanton, a professional work sanctuary expert, believes “ a cluttered home creates a cluttered mind”. Our subconscious gets distracted and whether we realise it or not, we get less done. Secondly, delineate the time for meals and the time for work. If you don’t stick to a fixed lunch hour you may find yourself floating to the fridge every 15 minutes and disrupting your pattern, as well as the cleanliness of the room.
If you have a lamp or desk light, grab it and get it on the table. Desk lamps are extremely helpful for our eyes as the light from the lamp focusses us and reduces eye strain as we work. Ambient lighting makes reading easier as the glare is minimised. You’ll also need to make sure you get enough natural light during the day to keep alert and fight off any feelings of claustrophobia. Remember to break from the screen for 5-10 minutes every hour, take a walk or position yourself near natural light in the home for a coffee break.
Now is the time to bring in a way to connect with the outside world, whether that’s colleagues, friends or family. There are a number of smart home tools on the market but one to recommend is Facebook Portal. In brief, it’s the closest you can get to feeling like you’re in the same room with those you’re calling. As well as streaming the call from the largest screen in your house, the Smart Camera adjusts to your movements to follow you in the room, as well as widening up as necessary to keep everyone in the frame. Smart Sound also enhances the voice of whoever is speaking and zones out background noise. Starts at £79.
TIME TO INVEST IN A STAND-UP DESK?
According to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle is a significant risk factor for developing non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. If you do have a home office, and you plan on spending more time in it, you can make modest purchases to create your version of a standup desk – without having to invest in the full solution. VariDesk, who do specialise in the full stand up solution, also create desk convertors, height-adjustable standing desks to sit atop your existing desk and allow you to stretch out for a bit.
MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR CHAIR
Unless you’re blessed with an ergonomic chair, there are edits you can easily make to your existing chairs. A seat cushion is one purchase to make on Amazon. Supportiback offers an award-winning one. With memory foam and CoolGel, it adapts to your shape and takes the pressure off your coccyx to avoid any pain from sitting down too long. You can also pick up an ergonomic footrest to improve blood circulation and decrease pressure on your legs, so they don’t hurt after prolonged sitting down.
According to The Guardian, employees are 15% more productive when their workplaces have a few houseplants. If you’re working from home, plants can get you psychologically engaged and help relax you in uncertain times. It’s likely you’ll start getting conscious of the fact that you’ve been within these four walls for a few days so an injection of novelty, beauty and nature into the room will freshen the mind and attitude. Check out these startups for speedy delivery to your door.
AND FINALLY, SET BOUNDARIES
Unless you live alone you are going to have to start thinking about how you share the space with friends and family when all working from home. On average it takes around 23 minutes to refocus once you’ve been interrupted. This means, while it may be fun for the first day, frustration will become an issue at the point where you struggle to take calls or get some real work done. Make sure you have a frank discussion about your space and how to divide it up. If you’re all around the kitchen table, designate times for quiet work – i.e. chat-free – and then maybe open up the late afternoon for a more relaxed environment.
Lastly, be strict about your office hours and stick to what you would at work. It’s easy to let your work creep into the evening, and equally hard to get going in the morning. Get showered, dressed and take on the To Do list. That way, getting back to work won’t be a shock to the system.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.