Here in Chicagoland and around the country, millions of people are adjusting to working from home and enjoying some of the benefits of telecommuting — while also running into some unexpected hurdles along the way.
Many people say that working from home increases their productivity, and this arrangement certainly offers certain perks — including a shorter commute, and more time to spend with family. However, working from home can also mean more distractions during the workday, and a harder time unplugging at night.
In a recent survey, homeowners and renters agreed that more space and better technology are high on their wish lists for a new home.
Looking to make the most of your “work-from-home” space in the meantime? Whether your set-up is a dedicated home office, a dining room table, or simply a stool pulled up to your kitchen island, there are lots of ways to increase your productivity and be creative while working from home.
Here are seven simple, practical ways to make sure your home office really works for you:
1.) Keep Your Space Organized
Studies have shown that working in a clean, organized setting can help dramatically lower your stress levels, and actually help you to be more productive. Want to get more done while working from home? Whether you’re working from your coffee table or a separate home office, make sure that your work area is clean and clutter-free. To help free up some room, look into organizing solutions that can work for the space you have — from discreet storage boxes to handy hanging organizers.
2.) Bring In Your Favorite Scents
Could following your nose be the secret to a happier, more productive workday? Bringing your favorite scents into your work-from-home set-up may help give you the inspiration you need to power through your paperwork — while also stimulating your senses. For example? Lavender essential oils have been shown to help you relax and create a calming environment, while peppermint oil may give your energy levels a boost. Similarly, the smell of freshly brewed coffee has been shown to help stimulate the brain.
In addition to these benefits, bringing a unique scent into your work area can help you to subconsciously separate your “work” space from your “living” space — making it easier to focus on getting work done when you need to, and relax when it’s time to step away.
3.) Invest in Equipment That Makes a Difference
It can be a lot easier to get things done when you have the right tools for the job. The more time you spend working from home, the more you’ll get a sense of the equipment that can make your job easier — from an upgraded computer, to a wireless headset for phone calls, to a webcam for high quality video conferences. If you like to play music while you work, you may benefit from a new speaker system. If you’re on WiFi all day, it may be time to look into a wireless hub device, to make it easier to keep your signal while moving around. Sick of looking at a bundle of cords, or feel short-changed by your outlets? You might consider investing in a seamless cord organizer, or green power strips perfect for maximizing your space. It’s all about finding what works for you.
4.) Think About Light
Surveys have shown that natural light is one of the top features that employees want in a professional workspace. Working in the sunlight has been proven to help people to relax and focus. A well-lit room can also help reduce the strain that you put on your eyes during a long day of work. If it’s possible, try to work in an area that has a window and lots of natural light. You can also increase the amount of natural light in your space through simple design tricks, like hanging a mirror. For dark or cloudy days, look into task lighting, such as a desk lamp.
5.) Create a Space You Want to Work In
It’s a lot easier to get work done when you’re in an environment that feels safe, supportive, and comfortable. No matter how much room you have to create a work-from-home station, there are lots of design choices that can help you create the space you need to achieve. Houseplants can help create a fresh and relaxing environment, as can adding a portable air purifier. Decorating with colors can help create an energy and mood in the space, whether you opt for calming blues and greens or energizing shades of yellow and red. Similarly, some reports have shown that hanging artwork can help boost creative thinking and productivity. Investing in a comfortable, ergonomic chair can help protect your posture and allow you to stay focused.
6.) Find Your Quiet Place
Whenever possible, try to set up your home office or workstation in a part of your home that is quiet and free of distractions. If possible, it may help to use a room with physical boundaries, to prevent the chance that a nosy roommate or overeager pet will bound in when you least expect it. Working in a separate area can help you concentrate, and protect your privacy. For those times when you can’t get a room to yourself — or you have to contend with the sounds of construction or a noisy trash truck outside — consider looking into a reliable pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
7.) Block Off Your Time
Just as important as setting up physical boundaries is setting up what Architectural Digest calls “temporal” boundaries — that is, creating a schedule and finding ways to stick to it over time. Try to create a routine while working from home, including a time that you plan to go “dark” and step away from work for the day. Try to block off moments throughout the day to spend with your kids, pets, or roommates, and give yourself regular breaks to exercise, meditate, eat lunch, rest your eyes, and do whatever it takes to recharge your mental and physical batteries.
Making the Most Your Time at Home
Whether it’s now serving as a school, office, playground, or simply a safe space, our home has never been more important. We know this is as well as anyone. At Baird & Warner, Chicagoland has been our home since 1855.
Looking for new ideas to make the most of your space? Ready to start your search for a new home in the months ahead? Whatever your real estate goals may be, we get you — and we’re here to help make things easier, at every step of the way.