7 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
This article was written by Elizabeth Harris, a member of Entrepreneur NEXT supported by the Assemble Content team. Entrepreneur NEXT powered by Assemble is a freelance matching platform leading the future of work. If you're struggling to find, review, and hire the right freelancers for your business, Entrepreneur NEXT can help you hire the freelancers you need, exactly when you need them. From business to marketing, sales, design, finance to technology, we have the top 3 percent of freelance professionals ready to work for you
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed millions of people into makeshift home offices. For example, dining tables and beds have replaced the typical desks and office-friendly ergonomic chairs.
When you work from home, there is a difficult tradeoff between building the perfect workspace and adapting your skills. An open plan office with floor to ceiling windows, a meditation room, and a slide are not really realistic for most of us. Instead, you need to find a way to design your workspace to fit into your home while maximizing your productivity.
There are a few ways to make this balancing act a little easier. It starts with choosing the right space for your WFH facility, organizing your desk, and incorporating items that make your wellbeing a priority.
Here are the most important things you will need to build an effective home office from scratch.
Choose the right place.
The first step in building a home office where productivity comes first is choosing the right space. For some people, choices may be limited. They can only be used where you can put a desk or find some quiet. For others, you may have more options.
If you can, try to find a room near a window with plenty of natural light to improve your mood and improve productivity. Also, choose the room where work and personal life are easiest to separate. Ideally, it is a fixed room so that you don't have to put your things away every evening.
Try to get a feel for your work area and identify the things that you can adjust to affect that atmosphere. You may need to adjust the lighting, play background music, or remove distractions. That way, even if your home office is just your kitchen table, it is a great way to customize your space to be more suitable for work.
Prioritize the supplies you really need.
When you first set up your home office, ask yourself what you really need to get your job done effectively. This can help you prioritize your shopping and should help you get to work right away. For most of us, it's a desk or flat surface, a comfortable chair, internet access, a laptop or computer, and an electrical outlet. The rest can come later.
This is especially important if you are working on a tight budget. Do you really need a mini fridge or can you use the one in the kitchen? Can you do without all the productivity books you will never read? What about the monogrammed stress ball?
By focusing on the essentials, you can help keep your work area clear and get you to work as quickly as possible. A clear, tidy desk with plenty of space to spread out can also help you focus better.
Once you have all the essentials, you can add more extras along the way. For example, most people benefit from a notepad and pen, and a desk lamp to reduce eye strain. You may need a printer and a paper shredder or whiteboard.
The last thing to add is personal items that make the room feel like your own. Some people benefit from having photos, motivational quotes, or objects on their desk to help focus. Add the things you need to make you feel safe and ready to work.
Add productivity tools.
Productivity tools can also be useful in a home office environment. Exactly what you need depends on your job, but many people benefit from a calendar, a messaging platform for communicating with colleagues, and a headset. A to-do list can also help you stay focused throughout the day and improve your time management. This can be a physical to-do list on paper or a digital one. There are quite a few apps out there for setting up goals and to-do lists. It can also be helpful to have a clock or timer to remind you to take regular breaks and add structure to your day.
The biggest problem entrepreneurs have in common today is finding, reviewing, hiring, and maintaining expertise.
Think about how you can increase your well-being.
To maximize your productivity while working from home, it is also important to consider your well-being. When building a home office, think about design elements that will improve your mood and deal with stress.
Research has shown that green design can make a big difference in employee satisfaction and wellbeing. So-called biophilic design elements like natural materials, plants, and water can reduce stress and anxiety, so it's worth adding to your home office setup.
Plants are perhaps the easiest way to incorporate green design into your home office. Just looking at a plant has been shown to lower blood pressure while minimizing feelings of stress and anxiety. You can also incorporate natural materials like bamboo, wood, and stone into your home office design.
Remember that colors can also affect your mood. Blue interiors have been shown to increase relaxation and tranquility while promoting logic, sanity and intellectualism. Neutral tones can also be calming.
If you want to take your home office to the next level, you can even include smells in your design plans. Research has shown that fragrance can significantly improve productivity. A 2020 study found that peppermint boosted participants' attention and memory. To achieve this effect at home, consider buying a diffuser, scented candle, or a simple room spray.
Build a break room.
In a normal office environment, you are unlikely to spend a full day at your desk. On a typical day, you get up to have a drink, chat with colleagues, and maybe have lunch. These activities, small as they are, will help you get exercise.
When you work from home, it is much more difficult to maintain this regular break routine. You have to force yourself to take breaks. This is important not only for your productivity but also for your physical health.
It is very important to have a dedicated break room that will bring you up and down from your desk. This can be your kitchen or the stairs to your apartment
Taking a break in the fresh air is a really good idea, but make sure it is in a different location from where you work.
Top tip: don't make your bed your break room. Keep your bed apart from work to avoid insomnia.
Design the perfect home office.
The ideal home office setup is different for everyone. It can take time to customize your workspace to work for you, and there is seldom a one-size-fits-all solution. The trick is to find a space where you can feel calm, focused, and positive.
Due to Covid-19, many of us will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is very important to create a comfortable and convenient work area. We're here for the long term, so it's worth investing a little time now to get your home office in order.
Visit next.entrepreneur.com to hire the experts you need, when you need them, and make an appointment with our Expert Solutions team.