Market experts project that at least a quarter of the US workforce will work remotely this 2021. Of these employees, more than 40% will adopt full-time remote work.
Remote work, also called digital or virtual jobs, has been on the rise even before the pandemic, though. However, the current health crisis has led to almost twice as many people in the US working from home.
However, as great and safe as working from home is, it can also drain your productivity.
Fortunately, there are several ways to boost working from home productivity levels. Many of these tactics boil down to the kind of home office set-up you have.
To that end, we came up with this guide listing some of the best tips to maximize your work productivity at home. Read on to learn how location, light, air, furniture, and technology can set you up for success.
Secure a Quiet Spot
Researchers have previously found that other humans are the number one workplace distraction. They even noted how sounds made by other people are more distracting than noisy machines.
Either way, noises can affect your productivity since they detract you from the tasks at hand. The more simultaneous information your senses have to deal with, the less focused you can get. This can result in you committing many errors, or worse, not finishing a job on time.
As such, the first step on how to work from home in a more productive way is to find yourself a quiet spot. If you don’t have an extra room to work alone in, you can go for a corner and, if possible, use a wall divider.
You should also talk to the other members of your household about your work schedule. Ask them to give you peace during those hours so that you can work without distractions.
Noise-canceling headphones with great sound quality can also boost your anti-distraction strategies. These features can drown out unnecessary background noise, letting you focus on work.
Keep Your Work Nook Well-Lit
When you choose your work spot at home, don’t forget to factor in lighting and ventilation. Bad lighting can cause digital eye strain (DES), which affects 50% of computer users. Having DES is bad enough, as it can cause dry, itchy, red eyes, and even headaches.
With that said, a corner by the windows can be a great spot for your at-home office. Be careful of too much sun exposure, though, as the sun’s ultraviolet rays can permeate glass. You can use window blinds or window films to help control the sun’s light and UV rays.
Mind the position of your desk and computer, too; if possible, they should be against the window. A computer screen that faces the window creates glare, which can also hurt your eyes.
Don’t Forget To Ventilate
Poor ventilation in a room can also drain your productivity by impairing your lungs. Moreover, ventilation problems lead to symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS). These include DES-like symptoms as well as runny nose, asthma attacks, and fatigue.
Opening your doors and windows, so long as it’s safe to do so, is one of the best ways to boost ventilation at home. This is also why a work set-up by the windows is great for boosting productivity.
If it’s not safe to keep your doors and windows open, make sure you run your exhaust fans. Doing so helps pull stale air out of your home and replace it with cleaner, fresher air.
Invest in Ergonomic Furniture
In the US, an average of 36.8 million new cases of chronic musculoskeletal pain occurs each year. Many of these diagnoses are for back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain.
Poor posture, in turn, is one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain. Prolonged sitting can also make the painful symptoms worsen.
Either way, feeling achy all over can cause a drop in your at-home work productivity.
Ergonomic furniture, including chairs and desks, can help keep such conditions at bay. These are pieces of furniture designed to support the body and promote comfort. They encourage proper posture and minimize extra pressure on the musculoskeletal system.
Ergonomic chairs are height-adjustable, reclinable, and offer neck support. They have a wide, cushioned sitting surface semi-enclosed with arm supports. Some also have back support that promotes air circulation to keep your back from getting too hot.
Many of today’s ergonomic desks are also height-adjustable to accommodate different user heights. Use this to your advantage so that you can alternate from sitting and standing while you work. If you have kids, you might want to go for a desk with curved corners, as those with pointed edges can cause injuries.
Consider Upgrading Your Gear
Subpar computer software quality alone cost the US an estimated $2.08 trillion in 2020. Software problems in existing systems accounted for nearly all those losses.
Outdated technologies are among the top culprits behind such issues. For starters, it’s common for modern hardware to be incompatible with outdated software. On the other hand, new software won’t run well in obsolete hardware.
A real-life example is installing a new application on a computer with too little memory (RAM). You’d either be unable to install it, or your laptop or desktop would work at a snail’s pace. Your gear will experience lags, or worse, freeze and crash.
When any of those happens, you’re likely to end up losing all that work you spent so much time on.
As such, one of the best working from home tips you should follow is to upgrade your laptop or home PC. Modern computers have more memory, space, and specs that make them work well with new software. The faster your computer is, the more work you can finish, thus, raising your productivity.
Bring the Greens In
A previous study found that enriching an office with plants can boost productivity by up to 15%. The researchers also noted how plants could bring physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits.
That should be enough reason to decorate your home office set-up with a few potted plants. Be careful of your choices if you have pets, though, as some plants can be poisonous to them. Boston ferns, spider plants, and herbs like basil, sage, and thyme are all pet-friendly.
Invest in Portable Tech
Speaking of plants, why not consider setting up an outdoor office near your garden, too? This way, you can have direct access to nature, which experts say is a big productivity booster. Being outdoors also exposes you to fresh air and gives you a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.
To benefit from an outdoor office, though, you need a laptop, as you can’t really bring an entire PC outside. Most modern laptops are lightweight, averaging 3 to 4 pounds, so you won’t have issues bringing it in and out.
Your outdoor office furniture should not only be ergonomic but weather-resistant, too. You can go with the usual patio table, but be sure to get an adjustable laptop stand. This way, you can position your laptop in a way that won’t hurt your arms, wrists, shoulders, neck, and back.
Many patio chairs now also feature ergonomic designs, such as lumbar and neck support. Some even have adjustable heights while retaining their water-resistant features.
Master the 20-20-20 Rule
According to experts, digital eye strain reduces productivity among computer users. That’s why it’s important to take screen breaks as often as possible. Taking breaks may sound counterproductive, but it’s effective in the long run.
Besides, even just a five-minute rest for the eyes can be enough to fend off DES.
You should try to apply the 20-20-20 rule whenever you take these mini-breaks, though. The American Optometric Association (AOA) says it’s a useful tactic to prevent DES.
The rule is to take screen breaks every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for no less than 20 seconds. You can then close your eyes to simply relax them after this.
Better yet, get up from your chair and walk around your home to get your blood flowing. You can also use your screen breaks as a chance to stretch your arms and legs to keep them from cramping. This is also a great time to rehydrate, as dehydration can impact your productivity, too.
Boost Working From Home Productivity Levels With These Tips
There you have it, your ultimate guide on how to maximize working from home productivity. As you can see, many of these have to do with your work environment and not just the tech you use. Of course, your equipment will also play a huge role, so be sure to invest in a good quality computer.
Interested in more tips and tricks to make the most out of your tech devices? Then feel free to check out our other educational resources and gadget reviews!