How to improve your working from home environment and boost productivity

By now most of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home will be doing so, and will be all too familiar with the acronym ‘WFH’ in the subject line of our email. Your home environment will play a big part in your productivity over the coming months, so here are our top tips for remaining efficient and positive in your temporary home-office

 

Research suggests that we should try to keep to our usual routine. This means that getting up at your usual time is advised. If you’re an early riser, it can seem like there are endless hours to fill before you have to open your laptop. Instead of staying in bed, go downstairs and make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Take the extra hour (or hours) to start your morning slowly and create a routine. We’re so used to rushing around that most of us miss breakfast! Now is the time to re-start those small habits and make it mandatory. Meditation, dog walks, home yoga are all good to get your body moving and energised for your morning tasks.

Most of us are in an office daily so it’s important to make sure that you have a dedicated space in which to work, especially if you don’t have a home office. The environment of your work space is crucial to your physical comfort and mindset, so here are four top tips on how to optimise your environment and consequently boost home productivity.

Tips to boost productivity when you’re working from home:

• Rearranging furniture

It’s important to make sure that your work-space is as spacious as possible and clean. It is advisable to clear away all files and paperwork at the end of the day so that when we come back to the desk in the morning, it’s clear and ready for a new day. Tidy desk, tidy mind.

• Alternatives for a home desk

We know that home offices can be a bit of a luxury. If you don’t have one don’t worry! Your kitchen table will work perfectly. Or if you’re used to a stand-up desk or need to change your posture, an ironing board can be your saving grace and double as a great sit or stand desk – put a book under your laptop for extra leverage.

• Lighting

In the office you might hate that bright, neon headache-inducing  lighting . However, that brightness mixed with the soft natural light from outside is what keeps us awake and on the ball. Whilst working at home it is important to have natural light. Make sure your blinds are opened fully and that your screen is positioned to benefit from the natural light. It is also a good idea to have the window open a crack so provide fresh air and stop you from feeling sluggish.

• Plants

They say plants can become like pets – so don’t be panicked if you start talking to them either! They’re also very good for your mental health and the work atmosphere. If you were listening hard enough in science you will know that they breath in CO2 and exhale oxygen, the more oxygen in the atmosphere the higher the productivity, meaning you are going to feel even more efficient and energised. Interested in learning more about the impact plants have on our working environment? Read our article on biophilic office design.

Other tips to boost productivity:

• Get dressed!

Getting dressed and making a to-do-list will make you feel like you have achieved something. Working at home can often make people feel like they haven’t fulfilled anything throughout the day. We know that the idea of staying in your pyjamas is a tantalising prospect but psychologically, it isn’t going to help you. By sticking to your usual morning routine of washing and dressing you will find yourself mentally prepared for a day of work. Equally, if you change out of your clothes at the end of the work day, this will tell your brain that the work day is done and will help you to wind down for the evening.

• Establish boundaries

This is vital when working at home, especially in times like this when its likely all of you are at home, at the same time. We recommend that you shut your door when you’re working. This stops awkward interruptions (who can forget that Prof Robert Kelly interview on the BBC?) and also creates a boundary between work-space and your home.

• The Pomodoro Technique

Never heard of it? Many home workers swear by this technique. For every 25 minutes of work you do, give yourself five minutes for a break. Research suggests that this is often more efficient than taking less frequent and longer breaks. In these breaks, you should stand up and move, avert your attention from the work at hand and go get a cup of tea or biscuit, or both.

Unless you’re self-isolating, get out of the house and go for a walk, run or cycle. Being stuck in the house will lead to a bad case of cabin fever and won’t help with your productivity levels either. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, the fresh air will boost your productivity levels dramatically.