New cloud data storage systems and shared workplaces like Microsoft Teams have made the millennial dream of working from home more attainable than ever. According to data published by the US Census, 5.2% of workers in the US worked from home office in 2017 (around eight million people) and these numbers are expected to grow, thanks in no small part to the refinement of technology for remote working teams. Technology is only one aspect that enables workers and teams to be more productive, of course. Features such as office layout, light, and bring a bit of the ‘Great Outdoors’ into your workspace, can make a big difference in terms of how much you achieve every day.
Essentials come First
If you are using technology such as Office 365 and Teams, then you are probably making frequent VoIP calls to other team members using your desktop computer for greater convenience. Your office should boast the kind of design you wouldn’t mind showing off to colleagues, collaborators, and bosses. Clean and clear should be your aim; an untidy office riddled with papers, books, coffee cups and may lead others to get the wrong impression of you. Research carried out at the University of Western Ontario reveals that first impressions are persistent in business. This means it is important to get it right from the word go, even you are in a home office. Your desk should be large enough to comfortably sustain your computer, and your office should contain enough storage space to ensure only essential items are on your desk when making a conference call.
Lighting is Key
You will need optimal lighting if you are working remotely and speaking via video, and nothing is more flattering than natural light. If your current home office is located in the most unwanted corner of the home (e.g. the basement or otherwise artificially lit space), consider bringing it outside. An outdoor shed-office can be built in your yard to make the most of sunny weather; if you have the budget for this type of renovation, forego walls in favor of glass sliding doors and roofs to flood your space with light. An outdoor office will not only enhance the quality of video calls, but also have powerful effects on your productivity. As noted in one Northwestern University study, “There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day, particularly in the morning, is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism.”
A Dash of Personality
Depending on the industry you work in, your home office can display more or less artistry. If you work in design, your interiors will definitely need to show off your eye for style. Thus, although tidiness is still key, you should consider the use of accents in seasonal tones - including cushions, frames, photography, etc. Even if you work in tech or business, you don’t need to sacrifice artistry. Neutral tones like grey, black, white, and beige work well alongside metallic accents in the form of computers, shelves, or lighting. Especially if you own your own business, your office should contain more than a basic desk and phone. Bear in mind that you may have to greet clients in this space, as well as communicate with them via video calls.
Productivity and Plants
Whether you opt for a minimalist or countryside look for your office, try to make room for plants. A study carried out at the University of Exeter found that green offices with plants make us happier and more productive than minimalistic designs devoid of all plant life. Aspects such as air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction were found to improve in two large commercial offices in the UK and Netherlands, as observed by researchers.
Remote work is increasing in popularity, as cloud storage and other technologies are making it easier than ever to work as part of a team, regardless of where you are. Your office design should be clean and tidy, though it definitely should contain elements that reflect your personality and taste. Remember the power of light and plants for a productivity boost, and invest in the technology you need to function optimally despite the physical distance from colleagues.
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