Designing the Perfect Home Office and How Your Company Can Help

Working from home looks to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. This reduces the risk of a damaging COVID-19 outbreak and ensures business continuity. Remote workers have been shown to be as productive as on site employees time and time again, which is extremely promising for businesses which were once on the fence about remote work. However, there are still some considerations when working remotely about employees having the right office and technology setup that many businesses may have overlooked in the early 2020 rush to work from home. Here are a few tips for employees and managers about making sure you’ve got the right tools and environment to get the job done. 

The importance of having a comfortable home office

While working on a laptop at the kitchen table may have worked at the beginning of the pandemic when nobody was certain how long things would drag on, odds are that it’s just not cutting it anymore. The nature of working from home means that distractions are around every corner - whether it’s chores, daily responsibilities, entertainment, or hobbies, they’re lurking and waiting for the opportunity to grab your attention. Having a home office to retreat to can minimize these distractions and give employees a comfortable place in which they can work productively, participate in conference calls with colleagues, speak with clients, and perhaps most importantly, think clearly.

Like in the workplace, having a comfortable place to work with the right equipment at your disposal can mean the difference between a productive employee and a constantly distracted one. A dedicated home office also means that employees can stay organized and get into a routine, two of the more significant challenges facing remote workforces - knowing that you’re spending a set amount of time in your home office allows you to carve out time every single day, keeping you organized, maintaining a regular work schedule that employers and colleagues can rely on, and mitigating the chances of distractions.

Keep your home office for work wherever possible

Ideally, you should be able to keep your home office separate from your personal life - when you’re not working, try to avoid spending time in the office in order to maintain a proper work-life balance. This will allow you to cherish your time away from work, and won’t run the risk of blurring the lines between your work life and personal life. There are a number of ways to do this. If you’re working from a laptop, take it out of your office on weekends and evenings. If you’re using a desktop, try to establish separate user profiles for work and personal use. 

The right equipment for the job

Having access to the right technology to get the job done means being better equipped to communicate and collaborate with colleagues remotely, effectively breaking down the barriers presented by working from home. Getting your setup right is easy, and using it day after day will allow you to work just as productively as you would in the office. First, you need to start with a quiet office space - whether it’s a small room, spare bedroom,  the basement, or an established home office, you need a space in which you can work, think, and participate in work-related calls.

Once you’ve found this workspace, you’ll need to start with a desk. For long-term remote working, a table just won’t work. Some may opt for a standing desk, or a hybrid desk that can be used when sitting or standing. Either way, your desk needs to be comfortable and have enough room for your setup. Ideally, it’ll also have plenty of storage where you can keep files, notes, pens, and other essential office equipment, ensuring that you aren’t constantly on the search for equipment.

A good desk should be complemented by a comfortable office chair - you’ll be sitting for a good chunk of your day, and the last thing you want is for your back to be hurting when work finally ends. Choose something ergonomic that will last you years to come - some businesses may never return to the office. If you choose to stand at your desk, have a comfortable chair on stand-by for breaks. Remember to ensure that your desk, chair, and monitors are all at the proper height to avoid straining your back or neck.

From there, you can focus on choosing the right tools for your new setup. Dual monitors will allow you to multitask like never before, letting you work within documents, read and respond to emails or log data in your CRM without having to constantly switch between tabs. They’ll also come in handy during video calls, allowing you to continue working and participating in calls when possible. If you’re not using a laptop with a built-in webcam, it’s recommended that you invest in a high quality USB webcam for video conferences and client calls. You may also want to look into a bluetooth headset with a built-in microphone for the same purpose - for workers with high quality headphones, USB microphones are extremely easy to use and can elevate the quality of any future call.

You’ll also need workplace software solutions that you can work within, but it’s typically up to your employer to get you set-up with these tools remotely. They should be cloud-based to allow for remote collaboration, and wherever possible, should be integrated to streamline work. In order to continue where you left off at the office, you may even find yourself using a remote desktop app to access files on your workplace computer.

How companies can support remote employees

Aside from getting remote employees setup on remote workplace solutions and apps, employers can support their employees by working with them to create perfect home offices that will enhance productivity and offer team members a comfortable place in which they can work for the foreseeable future. E-commerce giant Shopify offered its employees $1,000 to purchase office furniture and equipment. Google, too, offered employees $1,000 for enhancing their home setups to maximize productivity and job satisfaction.

Some have even taken it a step further and encouraged employees to explore specialty lighting and standing desks to encourage happier and healthier remote employees. Many businesses who suddenly made the jump to remote work are paying for employees’ computers, desks, chairs, and other necessary equipment. Others are offering their employees a stipend for things like WiFi, phone, and electricity costs, all of which may have seen an increase due to employees now working from home. The money for this can be repurposed from the budget of everything to do with maintaining a company’s physical office space, from leasing costs to utilities - if of course the office is getting rid of that physical space. 

If you need a way to manage productivity in a remote or any other setting, Prodoscore provides productivity intelligence that provides visibility into daily activity in a non-invasive way.  It assigns a productivity score to each employee so you can see how much they are doing, and if they need help with a home office environment or anything else. Contact us today for a demonstration of how Prodoscore can improve remote management and reporting.

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