Improve Home Office Productivity Through Design:
9 Remote Work Tips
Feb 10, 2022
Although working from home began as a pandemic necessity, it has now become the preferred choice for millions of people. In fact, Gallup reports that 9 out of 10 remote workers would like to keep working at least part-time from home, even when the variants let up and people can safely return to more traditional office settings.
Yet, while remote work persists, challenges to work-life balance and productive work continue. Even interruptions that only last a few seconds can ripple out into long moments that take a long time to get back on track.
One way to improve remote work productivity is by creating a better home office design. We’ll look at the psychology behind your environment and what adjustments can be made to help boost productivity.
1. Eliminate the Noise When Working from Home
There is no such thing as a silent home office, but you can get closer with the right design elements. Glass sliding interior doors offer sound insulation while still providing a view into the rest of the home, so you can keep an eye on your kids while getting things done. This is especially helpful for dampening excess noise during those ubiquitous video calls in your home setting.
Depending on your personal and professional setup, you might opt for clear glass doors or some prefer frosted or decorative glass to provide contrast and design. In either case, this can create a separate room that creates a more dedicated workspace that can help you focus and be more productive while working remotely.
2. Improve Your Posture, Experience Productivity Gains
When droves of people started working remotely at the start of the pandemic, there was a rapid increase in poor posture issues. Many people didn’t have dedicated office furniture in their homes, let alone ergonomic office furniture. Slouching on the couch, hunching over the kitchen table, lying in bed with necks bent forward… it wasn’t just a distraction, it was also uncomfortable and unhealthy.
The more time spent shifting around and trying to get comfortable, the less time spent getting work done. Furthermore, droves of remote workers started experiencing chronic back and neck pain, not to mention headaches, tingling fingers and wrists, and general discomfort and dissatisfaction with a lack of productivity. When setting up your home office design, keep the following tips in mind to eliminate the pain and experience increased productivity:
Observe Your Work from Home Posture Habits
Notice where you are sitting and how you are sitting right now, or how you ordinarily sit. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your neck craning down instead of looking directly forward?
- How straight is your back?
- Does your chair give you enough lumbar (lower back) support?
- Do you have to bend your wrists or elbows up or down to type?
- Where are your feet and legs situated?
Rearrange Your Home Office for Ergonomic Remote Work
Once you know where your pain points are as you work remotely, you can adapt or acquire your home office furniture to keep your body in more ergonomic, comfortable positions, which can help you get more productive work done without the distraction of aches and pains. Some ways to improve your ergonomics set up for working from home include:
- Acquire an adjustable office chair with good lumbar support. You can adjust the height of the chair so that your legs bend at a 90-degree angle, your arms and wrists are in a straight, neutral position while typing and you are looking directly forward without bending your neck to see your monitor.
- If you need to adjust your laptop’s height on the desk you currently have, you can place books underneath.
- If your chair does not have good lumbar support, you can add a lumbar cushion that attaches to the chair or use a small pillow or rolled-up towel to provide the needed amount of support.
- Some remote employees have switched to standing desks to get more activity during their normal workdays, as sitting for long periods of time is hard on the body and health. It can be difficult and painful to switch directly from sitting to standing all the time, however, so purchasing an adjustable desk (one that can go from standing to sitting position) can be helpful.
Because remote work is becoming the norm rather than the exception these days, many offices are selling office furniture, so keep an eye on opportunities to snap up pieces that might fit well into your home office design in terms of ergonomic comfort and overall aesthetics.
3. Improve Your Remote Work Lighting Scheme
Scientists, office designers, and health professionals all know that natural light brings a host of productivity, mental health, and design benefits. But if you’ve been working from home in a home office with less than optimum access to real daylight, you know from personal experience how difficult a dark or artificially lit space can be to work in for extended periods of time.
Eye strain can have a lot to do with how much information you process throughout the day. The more you must squint or blink, the more you’ll find yourself avoiding work at all costs. The good news is that eye strain doesn’t typically lead to long-term problems. However, short-term effects can include anything from headaches to blurry vision, which can also lead to a decrease in productivity while working remotely.
Scalding, fluorescent lighting is undoubtedly smothering, not to mention annoying with its low-level background buzz. But dimming the brightness can also interfere with how much you get done, especially when it’s dim enough to trigger the napping response. Natural daylight from optimally designed windows is always best, but cool white LED lighting can be used in its place in many cases.
If you’re doing a lot of computer work, experts recommend reducing the light by about half that of a standard office (try diffusers for this). If you’re working with mostly printed materials, you may need to brighten them up.
Another important aspect of the right lighting for your home office is the overall aesthetic when doing remote group meetings over video. If you can set up your remote workspace in an area flooded with daylight from windows, that’s always good. If not, consider setting up ring lights that will properly illuminate your face (with minimal shadows) and the work area during those ubiquitous Zoom meetings.
4. Freshen Your Remote Work Color Palette
In addition to the saved commuting time, one of the best things about working remotely is that you are not at the mercy of your corporate office designer in terms of how you decorate your home office space. But making your remote workspace productivity-friendly is more than just picking your favorite color and painting it on your home office wall.
Some color schemes can induce anxiety and stress, while others are so soothing they may cause boredom. Knowing the colors to pick to achieve the desired level of focus and relaxation is something of an art. Understanding your work personality also helps. So, if you plan to work remotely on a regular basis, consider the following tips from professional designers about color psychology in your workspace:
Reds Are Warm and Intense
Red shades have the ability to make a room feel warmer than it really is, but they can also be too intense for some people. If you are a night owl when it comes to work, or if you tend to lose focus easily, a few red highlights have been known to boost brain activity, heart rate, and activity. If you tend to get anxious easily, however, go easy on the reds as they can incite stress in some people.
Orange Brings Energy
If you work remotely and struggle to keep your energy levels up, a little orange can do the trick. It is great as inspiration for working in creative fields, but if your home office is close to the kitchen, be careful. Orange has been known to stimulate hunger, which is why so many candy and snack wrappers include orange in their color schemes.
Yellow is Fun and Optimistic
If your remote work area is too drab, a few yellow accents or flowers can boost optimism, focus, and creativity. It’s another energizing color that boosts creative work. But like red and orange, it can be a bit too much for large areas and is best used as an accent or design element color.
Green Reduces Anxiety and Eye Strain
Shades of green are very popular for remote working situations because they inspire feelings of nature and reduce anxiety and eye strain, both of which are helpful when work becomes stressful. It is also a regenerative, creative color that helps promote balance and harmony, which is great if you have it in the background when doing collaborative Zoom meetings. Consider adding some plants, especially if you have good windows bringing in natural sunlight.
Blue Calms and Promotes Focus
Blue is considered one of the “healthiest” colors, which speaks to its enduring popularity with designers. It also tends to empower trust and communication, which is why many banks and medical companies incorporate it into their logo and design schemes. If your remote work situation tends to be very intense and stressful, consider bringing more shades of blue into your home office to keep you calm and focused.
One More Note on Home Office Colors for Remote Work
Keep in mind that each remote worker out there may respond to different colors in different ways. Different shades and tones of the same color can also have different impacts on focus and mood as well. Understand your unique reaction to colors and pick a color scheme and accent colors that help you focus, stay alert, be creative and give you a feeling of optimism that will enhance your productivity levels.
5. Devote Less Office Space to Clutter
Consider what you really need in your office to work productively, without distractions, and what you don’t need. Although magnetic whiteboards and other organizational tools do work for many people, some people find them distracting. They can also give you something else to focus on besides your work. If you find yourself constantly rearranging your highlighters or doodling on Post-Its, you might need to scale back to little more than a surface and a screen.
The right shelving, storage, and dividers can also be helpful so that you can keep your workspace as clear and free of distraction as possible while stowing the things you need to keep organized and at the ready. The more barriers you have from the knickknacks and decorations in the rest of the home, the more you can turn your remote work area into something that’s for work only. The more you associate this space with your career, the more primed your brain will be when it’s time to start the day.
6. Working Remotely? Stay Active!
The more hours you sit, the worse it is for your body. If you’re usually sedentary throughout the day, try breaking it up by pacing around for five minutes of every hour. You can also have resistance bands, small weights, or even a treadmill to get the blood flowing. If you’re not devoting full hours to exercise, the physical break should actually provide you with enough mental stimulation to power through the last few hours of the remote work experience each day. Again, marching at a standing desk with a good cushion and support under your feet can also help, if you decide to go that way.
Taking regular activity breaks to stretch, walk and move leads to improved concentration, more creativity, lower stress: these are all proven benefits of integrating some kind of exercise routine into your office work. As you pull yourself out of the virtual world, you might discover that your outlook improves as well.
7. Adjust Your Remote Work Office Temperature
Unlike the traditional office, you actually have a say about how warm or cool your home office is, and temperature can have a direct impact on your productivity. If you feel too warm, you could be easily distracted or nod off at the desk. If you feel too chilly, this can distract and decrease productivity as well. Set your thermostat for a temperature that makes you comfortable and add a throw blanket or a small fan if you need to.
8. Improve Home Office Productivity with Scents
Remote work gives you the opportunity to try something that you probably would not be able to try in the traditional office without bothering someone: scents for productivity. Some natural scents are known for enhancing focus and wakefulness in the mind when you need to work. If you are interested in experimenting with the olfactory design of your home office, consider the following ideas and pick one or two that speak to you personally:
A fresh, natural, invigorating scent, pine promotes alertness.
A close cousin to pine, rosemary has a long history of stimulating alertness and boosting memory.
Cinnamon promotes warmth and happiness. It is also stimulating and helps with focus.
If your job tends to be somewhat stressful and invigorating on its own, lavender can help reduce stress and anxiety.
The smell of peppermint is a mood-lifter and stimulant that can improve focus and boost creativity when you need to brainstorm.
Scents like orange, lemon, bergamot, or even grapefruit enliven the mind and enhance wakefulness and alertness while also boosting your mood.
Again, scent therapy at work is not for everyone, even in a remote work situation. But consider that it is something to try if you need a natural mood booster while you are working. Experiment with different scents and find the ones that you respond to most positively.
9. Consider Adding Interior Dividing Doors
Separating the work from home space from the rest of the home is key to maintaining optimal productivity. Interior sliding glass doors offer the ability to quickly close off dedicated office space for a quick Zoom meeting while allowing light in and avoiding the feeling of a closed-in space. They can even be automated to close and open with the click of a button – or just by asking Alexa.
Panda offers glass door systems that are beautiful, practical, and reliable. For home office workers who want to maximize productivity, we recommend the following options:
This award-winning door system features a 15/16″ profile and a perfect view of the world beyond your door. This product is right at home in residential spaces. They’re easy to open and close and minimize sound disruptions, all while creating a modern look for your modern home office.
Also referred to as bi-fold doors or accordion doors, these innovative Folding Doors feature a proprietary top-hung design that allows individual panels to stack or “fold” against one another on either side or both sides of the door frame.
The HSW system is excellent for small spaces, adapting to nearly any room configuration in the home.
Make Remote Work Better Work Through Home Office Design
At Panda, we know what it means to have the right working environment. We consider not only your comfort but also how our products impact your productivity at every stage of planning.
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