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Home Field Advantage: Helpful Tips For Working From Home
Approximately 3.9 million people currently work from home in the U.S., according to the State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs. Recent studies have also shown that telecommuters and freelancers on average take shorter breaks, have fewer sick days, and naturally leave a smaller ecological footprint.
Home offices do present a unique set of challenges and requirements, however, including a variety of potential distractions.
Here are some steps you can take to create an ideal workplace at home.
GET IN THE ZONE
Many people believe working from home has the advantage of skipping the morning shower and staying in your sweatpants and pajamas all day. But approaching your workday as if you were heading to an office building helps you set regular hours and stick with them.
Establish a morning ritual of taking a shower, getting dressed in at least business casual attire, and then having your morning cup of tea or coffee. You are essentially preparing yourself for the workday, even if that workday will take place in the next room. This structure has been shown to boost productivity while retaining the perk of an easy commute.
Dedicate a specific room or area of your home for your office, which will help create the “I’m at work” attitude as you enter. Next, space permitting, divide this work area into three zones:
Zone One: The central hub of your activity housing your chair, desk, computer, and printer;
Zone Two: A designated reference section for storage of files and books;
Zone Three: For everyday supplies such as paper, binders and any other materials frequently used.
WORK YOUR WAY UP
Once you define your zones, there are creative ways to make the best use of your particular space. Modular shelving is a simple and highly effective solution, allowing you to custom-design your combination of shelves, cabinets, desks, and drawers tailored to your specific needs.
Modular systems (like BDI's Semblance) allow you to create configurations that separate your workspace from the rest of your living space. This flexibility keeps your office fresh yet functional and gives you ultimate customization. Also, take advantage of any vertical space for shelving and storage that keeps office essentials close by but out of the way.
DON'T MESS AROUND
One key to staying focused in any office is staying organized. Look for office furniture with adequate storage options such as a filing cabinet with built-in supply drawers or a multi-function cabinet that has room for a printer as well as file storage.
A basic home office usually includes a monitor, printer, keyboard and various peripheral devices. Unfortunately, most of these devices do not come with a "no strings attached" arrangement, so cable management will be crucial for keeping clutter to a minimum.
Try corralling wires using ties and bundlers for a DIY solution, or look for furniture with built-in cable management and dedicated routing channels. You can also try mounting a power strip underneath your desktop using Velcro fasteners to keep your work surface free of snaking cords.
Better yet, go cord-free completely by using a Bluetooth or wireless mouse, keyboard and other options that eliminate cords, freeing your space (and your mind) for ultimate creativity and organization.
When working from home, reducing distractions is as necessary as reducing clutter. Playing music in the background can be a good motivator, especially if your playlists spark creativity, but keep the volume low, so you remain in the workflow. You can also try websites like Coffitivity, which replicate the sound and ambiance of a coffee-house for those who prefer more muted background noise.
Temporarily unplugging from social media is also an excellent way to keep from getting distracted. You can always set aside a few short moments a day to check back in with friends and breaking news.
But taking a breather from social media doesn’t mean eliminating social interaction. Stay connected with colleagues via regular conference calls or by scheduling daily chats to touch base. On-line hubs like Google Hangouts and Slack keep everybody on the same page and foster effective communication and collaboration.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
No matter the workload, taking regular breaks during the day is essential to keeping a clear head and a healthy attitude. Studies have shown that getting out of the house periodically and working in a public space can have beneficial effects.
If working out of the local Starbucks is not your thing, make sure to stand up and move around occasionally, even taking a quick walk around the block to get your blood pumping again.
Better yet, try using a standing desk, which will allow you to sit and stand throughout the workday periodically. It’s a great way to work healthier while changing your perspective and your position.
By selecting the best furniture for your home office space, and creating an environment conducive to work, you can set yourself up for success and create a highly functioning, professional office environment with all of the comforts of home.
Feel free to share any additional tips that you may have for working from home in the comment section below!