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8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office for Serious Productivity

8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office for Serious Productivity

Productivity flourishes in environments where creative thoughts bloom, distractions are minimized, and healthy atmospheres invigorate us. Many modern workplaces are cleverly designed for employee productivity, but our home offices lack these innovations. Luckily, those of us who work from home can learn a lot from the revolutionary designs of green, organized, and innovative workspaces.

Whether you’re starting your own business, you work from home full time, or you occasionally conduct business from your home office, you can benefit from optimizing your workspace for serious productivity using these tips.

1. Incorporate Your Own Style

According to a study from the University of Exeter, making design decisions about your workspace improves productivity, as well as health and happiness. In fact, the participants were found to have increased productivity of 32%.

Before you hire an interior designer to make design decisions for you, think about your personal style. Do you like urban decor, art deco, modern country, or shabby chic? What types of personal items inspire you in your workspace? Do personal keepsakes make you motivated and happy? These individual touches will make you more comfortable in your space, which boosts productivity.

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2. Apply Principles of Feng Shui When Positioning Your Desk

If your workspace is making you feel sluggish rather than energized, consider rearranging it according to Feng shui practices. Feng shui is a practice that applies spatial arrangement and energy balance for optimum design and layout. The Chinese have been utilizing it for 6000 years. Feng shui practitioners believe that positive energy comes from the flow of good chi, and if the arrangement of your workspace blocks the flow of it, energy levels are negatively affected.

According to Feng shui practitioners, it’s important to place your desk in a “commanding position.” This position requires that your back does not face the door and that your desk isn’t near the door. The best position is diagonal to the room’s entrance with you facing the door. It’s preferable to have strong backing placed behind you, such as a solid wall, rather than an opening or window.

3. Utilize the Color Green in Your Home Office

Choosing the right paint colors for your home office can stimulate your creativity and productivity. According to Feng shui, green is associated with growth and decisiveness. Green brings forth feelings of calm. Moreover, a study from Stephanie Lichtenfeld at the University of Munich concludes that the color green might awaken creative performance. In the study, researchers found that a glimpse of green spurs “the type of pure, open (mental) processing required to do well on creativity tasks.”

If painting your entire office green doesn’t please you, you can still reap the benefits by painting an accent wall green. Plants and other accessories are also excellent additions for introducing green into your home office.

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4. Include Natural Light and Proper Lighting in Your Home Office

A study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that higher lighting levels and daylight simulating fixtures can improve productivity. Furthermore, in a study investigating daylighting in schools, students who studied in classrooms with the largest windows progressed 15% faster in math and 23% faster in reading than those with the lower levels of daylight.

When working from a home office, you have the luxury of choosing where your office is located to optimize light levels and natural light. Locating your office where you receive natural light is a great strategy to boost your productivity. For example, windows that face towards the south give you abundant sunshine, which is especially important during the winter months.

Improper lighting can cause eye fatigue and drowsiness, which hinders productivity. The hue of light is also a factor to take into consideration. Warm color temperatures are calming, while cool color temperatures stimulate productivity. Choosing an LED task light that allows you to change color temperature settings gives you the flexibility to select a suitable light for the task at hand.

5. Incorporate a Standing Desk

You might believe that using a standing desk is a just a trend, but did you know that it can actually increase productivity? According to this article, sitting during most of the day can decrease productivity significantly due to obesity, cardiovascular issues, and our relaxed frame of mind while sitting.

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However, many who have incorporated standing desks report foot and back pain as well as achy legs. The key to avoiding this type of fatigue is to alternate standing with sitting throughout the day. Slowly work up to a goal of standing approximately four hours daily. Furthermore, choose appropriate footwear with proper support when standing. Utilize a motorized standing desk that can be easily adjusted to a standing or sitting position. Although, these motorized desks can be expensive. As an alternative, you can purchase a standing desk on wheels to use on and off throughout the day. Another option is a tabletop standing desk that sits on top of a traditional desk.

6. Clear Your Home Office of Clutter

When your workspace is free of clutter, your mind can think clearly. The first step in clearing your office of clutter is to simply rid yourself of items that you don’t need.

As for the items you wish to save that you don’t use every day, there are many organizing products that are specifically designed to organize them. Clustering your items into groups helps you find items when you need them because it’s easy to remember where they’re located. Utilize filing cabinets, decorative baskets, and other holders. These organizing items can be both pleasing to the eye and functional. Hence, attractive and organized spaces improve your happiness and productivity.

7. Ensure Your Home Office is a Dedicated and Private Space

Distractions from family members, pets, and televisions can hamper your productivity. Have you ever participated in a conference call from home and your dog barks at a delivery person or your children interrupt you? It’s embarrassing and it hinders productivity of the entire team involved. For these reasons, if you work from home, a private office is a necessity.

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Set up a dedicated home office in the quietest area of your home, which is away from the bustle of everyday life. If a private office is not possible for you, consider purchasing a room divider or shoji screen to cut out the distractions at your home. Ensure family members respect your private time by using a visual cue, such as a “Do Not Disturb” sign, especially when participating on audio and video calls.

8. Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY-Upstate Medical School, those who work in green environments with better air quality have higher cognitive functioning scores, compared to those working in conventional airtight environments with poorer air quality. The green buildings use low emitting materials and increase outdoor air, which result in reduced VOC (volatile organic compounds) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) exposures.

In most home environments, these chemicals are found to be low. However, if you want to improve indoor air quality, there are small things that you can do. For example, the use of indoor plants improves air quality. In addition, keeping your environment clean through frequent vacuuming using a HEPA filter and dusting with non-toxic cleaners results in better air quality. Furthermore, letting in fresh air by opening windows and using ceiling fans to improve air circulation can also be also beneficial.

Featured photo credit: blupics/Home Office | San Francisco via flic.kr

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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