8 Ways to Improve Your Home Working Environment
In an ideal situation, working from home can boost both your mood and your productivity. Multiple studies, including an oft-cited Stanford study, have confirmed the benefits of a home working environment.
Experts disagree about what, exactly, is responsible for this effect. Some insist it’s the sudden lack of interruptions and distractions, while others assert that it’s actually employees’ desire to remain working from home that pushes them to “prove” that it makes them more productive. In any case, it’s clear that different people respond to working from home in different ways, and it may take some additional effort to maximize the benefits of this arrangement for yourself.
If you’re new to working from home, there are some steps you can take to improve your work environment—tweaking it to your liking—so you can work happier and more efficiently.
How to Improve Your Work Environment
Any or all of these changes could improve how you work from home:
- Designate a room (or space). First, make sure you designate an actual room, or at least a section of your home, to be used specifically for work purposes. If you work wherever, or if you work in a room where you frequently relax, the lines between work and home life will blur. This is bad for a few reasons; first, it will be harder for you to get into “work mode,” focusing on the tasks in front of you. Second, it will make it harder to end your day and start relaxing.
- Get a window. If you can, try to get a room with a view. Natural daylight has the power to improve your health, and help you focus on your work (while boosting your mood at the same time). Plus, when you’re trying to solve a tough problem or think about how to respond to a challenging email, it helps to be able to stare out the window at whatever happens to be going on outside.
- Invest in a fireplace. It may seem like a big investment for a home office, but installing a fireplace can significantly improve the ambience of the room. In winter, it will keep you warmer, so you can work at the perfect temperature, and other times, even the visual of the fireplace can make your office seem cozier and more inviting.
- Hang art. Wherever you choose to set up your office, hang art on the walls, and choose whatever style appeals to you. Looking at art when you’re trying to brainstorm or when you’re frustrated with a given project can help inspire you, or spark a new line of thinking. If you ever host people in your office, it will also serve to make the environment classier and more welcoming.
- Get proper sound equipment. Most people work better when there’s low- to moderate-volume music playing in the background throughout the day. If you invest in a high-quality speaker system, you can perfectly control the sound in your office at all times. Of course, if you’re a rare member of the population who works better in silence, you may be able to forgo this step—and invest in soundproofing materials instead.
- Buy ergonomic furniture. Ergonomic furniture isn’t just about making yourself more comfortable (though it will help with that too). It’s also about preventing injuries that could keep you from working efficiently or jeopardize your health. Get a desk that fits you perfectly, and don’t be afraid to splurge on a good chair.
- Get a backup plan. Sooner or later, something will go wrong in your home office; the power will go out, or the internet will waver. If and when this happens, it pays to have a backup plan. Even something simple, like an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and a phone with a data plan you can use as a tether, can serve as your backup.
- Experiment. Finally, take the time to experiment with different features and arrangements in your office. Everyone is unique, so you may discover that your initial thoughts aren’t quite as beneficial as you imagined—or that some strange addition suits you perfectly.
Bonus Tip: Work Somewhere Else
Even the best home office can get stale over time. And even if you’re naturally introverted, several months (or even years) of working in isolation can be tough. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to break your routine occasionally and work in a public area—or at least a different one. Head to a local coworking space, or a café that offers free Wi-Fi. You could even head to the park to work on nice days if you wanted. What’s important is that you do something different.