Working from Home

Creating a Productive Work-from-Home Environment

By SaleCore Elite

Although working from home is not a new concept, it is the new normal for many Americans. Employers have discovered that they no longer need large office buildings and can save thousands on overhead costs by having their employees work from home. Similarly, employees have discovered that they are equally, if not more, productive when working from home and have saved hours of their personal time and money by eliminating their commute. It is, however, essential to create a productive work-from-home environment, one that will separate you from your home life, including caretaking or homeschooling duties. Not having these boundaries can make it difficult to stay focused on work.

Designate a Workspace

An ideal long-term home office setup should be a separate space in your home properly equipped for your daily tasks. Since many people don’t have an office in their home, convert an extra space, such as a spare bedroom, flex room, attic or basement into an office. Even an enclosed porch or a large closet can work (need be), as long as it’s quiet enough to take calls, attend video meetings, and get work done without distraction. Your bedroom and family room are intended for rest and relaxation and should be kept as such to help you maintain a work-life balance. Whatever area you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional workspace.

Equip Yourself for Success

A man setting up a monitor at his home office desk

Once you have a designated workspace, you must have a proper setup to perform at your very best. Keeping your well-being in mind, you should have these essentials to set yourself up for daily success.

  • Suitable Desk: When it comes to home office desks, ideally you’ll want something that’s big enough to fit your computer, store basic office supplies, and allow you to spread out. There are many types of desks from standing desks and writing desks to L-shaped desks and small corner desks. Whichever option you go with, be sure it’s a reasonable height for your needs and with your office chair.
  • Comfortable Chair: Comfort is key when investing in your office chair. Be sure to select an office chair that’s the right height and provides good back and arm support. Ideally, get one with adjustable height, that can roll, provides lumbar support for the lower back, and an arm rest is preferable.
A man smiling while on a conference call at his desk
  • Monitor: You likely already have a computer, such as a work-issued laptop, but get a monitor with specs that meet or exceed what your computer can deliver. For the best video quality, you want one that supports HDMI 2.x, DisplayPort or USB-C connectors. Line your monitor up so that when looking straight ahead, your eyes are at a 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.
  • Other Equipment: Be sure you have a functional keyboard and mouse or trackpad. When feasible, use the computer’s audio or a speaker for joining online conference calls. But when competing noises make it more difficult to work, having a headset is ideal for you and for the others in the home who may be working, sleeping, etc. In addition, if you find that you need to print regularly for your occupation, having a wireless multifunction printer is convenient.
  • Good Internet Service: It is absolutely crucial to have good (or great) internet service. Aim for speeds of at least 50Mbps, higher if there are many people using the internet at the same time. The bandwidth within your home matters as well. The best connections are wired Ethernet ones, so if possible, connect your computer to your router via an Ethernet cable; that’s especially important if you do video or other bandwidth-intensive work. Otherwise, Wi-Fi is fine for basic office work.

Set the Tone

Without setting the right tone in your workspace, it’ll be nearly impossible to be productive or focus on your daily tasks. There are many small and inexpensive things you can do to ensure that you have the most optimal work-from-home environment.

A woman stretching her arms while sitting at her office desk with plants around
  • Declutter & Organize: It is absolutely key to keep your workspace decluttered and organized to stay productive. Eliminate what you don’t need, and organize what you do, making sure you have all your workday essentials close at hand. Use a desk organizer or drawers to keep all supplies in one place. Separate important documents or files to a secure cabinet or drawer with a filing system. If video calls are part of your day-to-day, think about what your clients or colleagues are seeing behind you.
  • Inspire Yourself: Showcase your personality or things that inspire you, keeping the focus positive and uplifting. Incorporate some pops of color, add some wall art behind your desk, put images of your beloved people and pets on your desk. Include a candle or aromatherapy diffuser, and make a playlist of your favorite tunes to play softly in the background. It’s okay for your home office to feel more like home, and to treat yourself with some comforts that make you feel calm and inspired.
  • Brighten It Up: Proper lighting is essential to keep your eyes from get tired or strained while you’re working. If possible, set up near a window giving you access to natural light. This provides both good office lighting and can improve your focus and general mood while working. If you don’t have that option, overhead lighting is good, but add a desk lamp or a floor lamp near your desk, being cognizant of competing light sources and possible glare.
  • Incorporate Plants: Having office plants can be beneficial to your overall wellness. Not only do they add some pops of color, they can even remove indoor toxins from your workspace. In addition, research shows that plants have the ability to reduce stress and restore your ability to concentrate. Flowers and bamboo can help bring a peaceful feeling to your workspace. If you prefer a low-maintenance option, succulents are a good alternative.

Stay Focused

One downside to working from home can be the many distractions (kids, laundry, the TV, etc.). The key to keeping yourself accountable is to be intentional about your office time. Schedule everything from meetings to free time using an online calendar, daily planner or whiteboard. This makes it much easier to stay on top of deadlines, meetings, and tasks. Put together a daily or weekly list of what’s coming up so that you can remain focused and productive.

Concept photo of notebook with Stay Focused written on the front on a desk with a clock and glasses

Take Care of Yourself: Mind & Body

Where some people love being able to work from home in their pajama pants, others miss the routine and seeing their colleagues in-person. Whether you love it or hate it, the lack of structure working remotely provides can be stressful and make it easy to forget about your body’s basic needs. Therefore, it’s vital to include some stress relief for your mind, body, and soul during your home workdays.

  • Be Playful: A playful workspace creates more opportunity to de-stress throughout your day. Have a fidget spinner, Rubik’s cube or stress ball nearby to keep your hands busy while your mind is working through ideas. Switching out your chair for an exercise ball can also bring a sense of play and exercise.
  • Move Your Body: Pay attention to your movement throughout your day; try to schedule some time for yoga or a walk through the neighborhood. Not only will this get your blood pumping, but it will help to clear your mind preparing you for the remainder of your day. When that’s not possible, it’s as simple as setting a timer reminding you to get up and stretch every few hours.
  • Get Some Sunshine: Research shows that people who have more exposure to sunshine sleep better, are less stressed, and are more active during the day. Light regulates key hormones and neuro-transmitters, affecting everything from our immune system, moods, level of alertness, and stress. Have lunch on the patio, take a walk or open up the windows to let in some daylight and fresh air.
  • Feed Your Soul: Be sure that you take regular lunch or snack breaks to get the nourishment your body needs to stay strong. Prepare some healthy snacks (such as, fruits, veggies, cheeses, pickles, olives or nuts) that will make you feel energized and more motivated. This will help you to avoid grabbing processed foods that make you feel sluggish. In addition, keep some of your favorite coffees, teas or other beverages on-hand to enjoy as a pick-me-up during your day.

Establish Work-Life Boundaries

A ven diagram of body, spirit and soul leading to balance in life

Due to the lack of structure, it’s easy for work and home life to overlap when working remotely. Avoid this as much as possible by setting firm boundaries to keep these areas of your life separate. Determine your office hours, and stick to a set routine to create consistency and help you remain productive throughout the day.

Once you have established a quiet area with the right equipment, the right tone, a focus on your mind and body, and an emphasis on work-life boundaries, you will be all set for long-term and productive work-from-home success!

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