As most of the world takes a drastic and sudden shift toward working remotely in the time of coronavirus, companies are scrambling to create communication protocols on the fly. In the meantime, remote workers are left to carve out a home office setup in whatever space is available. But remote work is nothing new, and it has actually been on the rise for some time.
It’s easy to see why remote working (in non-pandemic times) appeals to so many people. There’s no more rush hour, complete control of the Spotify playlist, and a pants-optional dress code (if your roommate is cool with that). Meanwhile, employers can reap many benefits as well, including lower overheads and a happier, more flexible workforce.
In fact, according to a survey by Global Workplace Analytics, 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) currently work at home half-time or more — and that number is increasing.
Working in your PJs from your bed (aka the Soft Office) all sounds great on paper, but as anyone who has ever worked from home will tell you, it’s not as easy as it seems.
There are unique challenges to deal with, including distracting kids, a lack of supervision, loneliness — the list goes on. You also have to manage the home office setup itself. Trying to work in an uncomfy chair near a pile of laundry is distracting and can seriously hamper your productivity.
There’s a lot to love about working remotely, but you need to approach it with purpose. To help you focus, we’ve created a guide to creating an awesome home office setup that’s geared for productivity.
Perfecting your home office setup
Quick tips for streamlining the remote workday
- Create a neutral background. Most video chatting software allows you to load a fake background, but you might not like the blurring that occurs any time you move. The solution? Try to create a space in your home office setup with a blank or minimally decorated wall. Avoid taking video calls in a spot where someone, or a pet, could walk behind you and show up on camera.
- Invest in a headset. Even if your home office is relatively quiet throughout the day, you can’t control everything happening around you. Road construction near your home or neighbors mowing the lawn, for example, can become very loud if you work near a window. Using a headset for video calls will completely block out background noise and keep your focus on the meeting.
- Rest your eyes. If there’s work you can do offline, take that time to give your eyes a break. Between 50 and 90% of people who use computers for work develop some symptoms of digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome. Adjust the screen settings to reduce strain, and rest your eyes at least every 20 minutes.
When it comes to working from home, the more you can focus, the better. Create a clean, calming workspace, stock up on snacks, and make a schedule to help you stay on track throughout the day. The more you can do to recreate an awesome office environment at home, the easier the transition will be.
This post was originally published on April 8, 2020, and updated most recently on January 31, 2022.