The modern workplace has evolved continuously over the decades. We’ve moved on from the dreaded cubicles to open office environments, mixed-use facilities, and co-working spaces. When studies found that many workers experienced “sick building syndrome,” indoor air quality testing for offices became vital to performance and well-being. Indoor plants and the increased use of natural light would soon follow suit.
As cities have gone into lockdown, however, more people have had to work from home. Office interactions take place in the virtual realm, and our apartments have been repurposed to accommodate our jobs. As days pass, this seems less likely to be a temporary arrangement. Homeowners might need to keep their office needs in mind as they undertake improvements.
The trend towards remote work was already picking up steam before the pandemic booted it into fast-forward. Now that we’re facing a world where our homes are becoming the office of the future, what can you do to shape your home environment for professional success?
Cover the essentials
In a time of crisis, everyone is learning and adapting together. Companies understand that most of their employees are navigating new waters. They are more likely to spare no expense and furnish their people with whatever is needed to do their jobs.
Twitter, for instance, is setting a strong example by giving its employees the option to work remotely “forever” and reimbursing all costs. That includes ergonomic furniture and the all-important internet connection. But how many companies will follow this precedent?
As remote work becomes commonplace, more companies are likely to value its cost-saving benefits. They will take it for granted that you have moved past today’s learning curve and have got the essentials covered. Even if you don’t work remotely right now, it’s wise to become familiar with the needs of a home office and be prepared.
Set aside a dedicated space for your office and clear out all non-essential features. Comfy cushions, TV sets, and other devices not related to work must go. The comings and goings of other people in the house need to be minimized. You want to set up an area where you enable yourself to concentrate and be productive.
Beyond that, the increasing reliance on online communications means you should invest further in that end. In addition to reliable internet service, make sure your setup has a quality webcam and audio input. Sound barriers to reduce outside noise, and improved lighting inside the office, will help significantly during video calls and presentations.
Learn from office design
You might not need to go to a shared office every day to work, but design trends in the past few years can provide many useful insights. These can guide you in creating a better home office environment.
For instance, using warm colors to boost mood is something well-known to most homeowners. But would you normally consider cool lighting and tones for a room? Studies have found those conditions to be optimal for learning. You might want to have different lighting options so that you can adjust them according to the task at hand.
Modern office spaces also encourage employees to get more exercise and experience a stronger connection to nature. An easy way to do this is through the use of indoor plants. Depending on where you live, having a room with a beautiful outdoor view can also boost your well-being. And if you keep some fitness equipment nearby, such as a stationary bike or some dumbbells, you can quickly get an impromptu workout when you take a break.
Often, the biggest concern when it comes to good office design is how employees will interact. Frequent interactions facilitate better collaboration. However, too much communication can be disruptive.
Fortunately, that’s not a problem when you work from home. But managing remote workers’ relationships and interactions is already one of the top concerns among employers in the pandemic age. How can you use your home space to turn this potential issue into an asset?
Remote interactions make us feel more distant from each other. But if you give colleagues a glimpse into your life at home, communication can acquire a personal touch. Let your kids or pets occasionally wander around, or consider dropping the virtual Zoom background so that people can see how you work.
At the same time, though, you have to define and maintain boundaries. You might wish to consider using multiple parts of the house for different purposes. That way, you can occasionally wander outside of the primary office and its productivity-focused environment, joining informal meetings from the patio or doing creative tasks in the living room, surrounded by décor and art objects.
Your home can be your future office, so learn to adjust and make improvements starting now. This will keep you acclimatized to a world that’s embracing remote work.