Since the introduction of the smartphone, businesses have been able to relax their grip on employees’ whereabouts. Safe in the knowledge that smart devices can let employees be productive from anywhere, organisations are more willing than ever to let people work from home. It can help in attracting and retaining the best talent, and it can reduce the costs involved in maintaining a large office, so it’s a win-win for organisations.
Working from home gives your employees freedom and flexibility that they can’t get working in an office, so it’s an attractive option. And, although it can boost their productivity, it’s not a guarantee. Sometimes, working from the comfort of a couch can actually become a hindrance to the work ethic of even your best employee.
There are pros and cons of working in the office and at home. For example, an office environment is dynamic, with constant noise and commotion. However, most of us have become accustomed to this and found ways to keep ourselves productive amidst the chaos. For those who find it distracting, working from home can be the best solution.
Having said that, many distractions come up at home as well, and there are even more opportunities to procrastinate. Loved ones, pets, cleaning, and television may be a constant part of a normal home life, but each of these cause concentration problems when your home is also your workplace.
There are ways to overcome this, and for full-time or part-time home workers, it’s important to have the right solution in place. Business leaders should encourage remote workers to ensure they have a dedicated home office that’s conducive to productive work.
You’ll need to start with a stable desk that suits your working needs, whether it needs to be wider, taller, or have drawers. Ideally, set your office up in a spare room or study that gives you privacy. This way you’re positioning yourself away from potential distractions and you have a door you can close when home seems a little too close.
A comfortable and ergonomic chair can go a long way towards keeping you focused when at work. Having an uncomfortable, squeaky or broken chair only hinders productivity as you’ll find yourself getting easily distracted by it. Not only that, but the sore back and neck you’ll end up with can also mean you’ll need to take time off work for physio or chiropractic appointments.
Whether you’re using office-provided equipment or bringing your own device, it’s important to make sure your computer is powerful, has reliable internet access, and is completely secure. You’ll be accessing potentially-confidential data, so it’s important to make sure you’re not inadvertently putting the company at risk by using an unsecured device.
While the paperless office remains a dream, most home office workers will need access to a printer at the very least, and a scanner and copier in most cases. Therefore, a multifunction device (MFD) that can do all of this and more, in a small physical footprint, is essential.
Choosing the right MFD depends on what you’ll use it for. If you think you’ll be printing reports and presentations for clients, then you’ll need a high-quality colour MFD. Or, if you’re more likely to print regular documents and don’t need a colour option, you may opt for a low-cost MFD. If you think you’ll be doing a high volume of printing, it might make sense to get a laser printer. Inkjet printers tend to be perfectly suitable for most home office requirements.
There’s nothing more distracting than having your laptop battery run out in the middle of an important task or meeting. Be proactive and set up chargers ahead of time. You don’t want to have to stop to find a plug every time your laptop runs out of charge. If your office space doesn’t have power outlets, it may be worth investing in an electrician to put some in so that you can continue to work ergonomically without having to shift locations when you need to recharge.
If you can, set up your work area somewhere with natural light. As it is, staring at screens constantly doesn’t help our eye health. Lighting can also help with productivity as dark rooms tend to feel constrictive and get uncomfortable after too long. Protect your eyes by taking regular breaks from staring at the screen and focus into the middle distance to relax them, and stay hydrated.
Surround yourself with things that inspire you. This can include pictures, quotes, or a list of your work and personal goals. Even a desk plant can brighten your work area and make it more inviting and inspiring. A small speaker or radio can create a more office-like ambiance and combat uncomfortable silences.
For businesses with remote workers, or individuals working from home, it’s important to remember that the work environment can have a significant effect on engagement and productivity. Businesses should ensure their employees have all the tools they need to be just as productive at home as they would be in an office.