Updated: May 25, 2020
Working from home or telecommuting as it is called, is not a new concept for white-collar employees. While it has received massive attention in 2020, millions of people all over the world have been enjoying its benefits for decades.
A NASA engineer named Jack Niles invented the term telecommuting back in 1972. He was working from home on a complex communications system, with the idea to save on gas and reduce traffic otherwise spent on commuting to and from work.
As early as 1997, over 100,000 US federal employees were telecommuting. This number has since risen to 3.3 million, according to a publication by psychologicalscience.org. This scenario is replicated in many countries globally. Today, however, it has become a necessity.
Challenges of Working from Home
The idea of being able to work in the comfort of your home and still get paid is very appealing to most people. However, as telecommuting experts and veterans will tell you, it is easier said than done.
Compared to working in a dedicated office environment, telecommuting exposes you very different challenges. If you are not careful, your productivity will suffer significantly.
How do you remain productive when your bed looks so inviting, your kids are shouting, friends are calling, and there are house chores to be done? The answer is simple: have a dedicated workspace at home.
A 2013 survey by Gensler explored the relationship between workspace and productivity. Simply put, the ideal workspace allows you to focus, learn, collaborate, and learn. Your home workspace needs to fulfil these same needs for you to achieve maximum productivity.
Many other factors affect productivity when you're telecommuting. To achieve success, you need to keep all of them in mind. This simple chart shows how various factors affect productivity not only in an office environment but also in a home workspace.
Importance of a Sound Work Environment
You may have heard of the term ‘mind hack.’ It means an act that gains access to the fundamental working of the mind. Creating an ideal telecommuting environment is the ultimate mind hack to help you achieve productivity.
The benefits of such a workspace are many and varied, but here are a few of the major ones to help convince you to get yours ready.
I. Tunes in your brain to the flow
Going to bed sends the signal that it is time to rest. In the same way, moving to your dedicated home workspace lets your brain know that it is time to work. It enables you to get in the groove faster and helps fire up all the right cylinders.
You will be more alert, more confident, and more organized in this space. Everything you need is there, and you don't need to keep interrupting your flow to get a pen or a document. Everything will be available when you need it.
II. Avoid distractions
For those with families, it is next to impossible to avoid kids bashing into you at the most inappropriate of times. That is unless you have a separate physical space where you can shut yourself.
It is vital to have a separate room where you can shut the door on everyone else until it's time to take a break. It can be your kitchen, attic, basement, or even outhouse. Let them know so that they cannot interrupt you during working hours.
III. Maintain professionalism
As much as working from home gives you ultimate freedom, it is important to maintain a semblance of professionalism. That is especially true if you have to hold conference meetings, video calls with your boss, or when you have to meet with clients and colleagues in person.
Having a dedicated workspace lets you personalize it for your work. Get an office desk, a high-backed chair, a widescreen monitor, shelves, and lockable cabinets as the need might be.
IV. Separate work and personal life
It is hard to remain professional if you keep thinking about the dirty laundry, the pie in the oven, or the kids sleeping in the next room.
On one note, you don't have to forget about these things. That is the beauty of working from home; you can achieve the perfect work/life balance. However, you need to have clear physical and mental boundaries between your personal and work life.
A dedicated home workspace gives that to you. Those who work in bed or on the couch never seem to stop thinking about work even when there is no work to be done.
Once you cross the home office door, you are at work. When you get out, you’re back home. When your workday ends, you will find it so much easier to unwind and relax if you keep these two parts of your life separate.
Having clearly defined boundaries will also help you with your psychological health. You can take a weekend off work and not worry about work.
For many people, work involves some sort of sensitive information. I can be client records, business data, or even financial data. To keep this information safe from spouses, kids, friends, and nosy neighbors, you need safe working space.
Having a separate home workspace also protects your own privacy if you need to conduct video calls or take photos. You really don't need your boss to see what your bedroom looks like, do you?
What If You Can't Get a Conducive Environment.....
It is near impossible to achieve all these conditions in the average home, especially on a limited budget.
The biggest challenge, of course, is noise. You are bound to have kids screaming aloud, someone watching movies or listening to music in the house, or even a noisome pet. Your biggest challenge to a truly sound environment is, well, sound.
Once you have set up your space, it is time to look at viable solutions towards having a quiet environment you can work in. You need a place where you can hear yourself think.
Some people like to play white noise to drown out other noises. However, this is dangerous in the long run and can cause damage to your ears. Others will opt for noise-canceling earphones, but these are expensive and not so effective.
The best way to achieve that priceless quietness is to use earplugs. They are non-mechanical and work extremely well for both low and loud sounds. Over time, you will find that they protect your ears and keep you productive.
To complete your workspace, get the best earplugs here. We sell deluxe quality plugs to protect your ears, prevent sweating, and keep you working at top performance no matter the environment.
How to Create the Ideal Home Work Environment
You need to invest some time and effort to ensure that you create the ideal home workspace. Telecommuting has a significant advantage because you can personalize your space as much as you want.
PsychologyToday suggests that to create the ideal home working environment, you need to confirm it to your identity and make it your very own territory. Here are some ideas on creating a sound workspace environment.
I. Get a room as a far away from distractions as you can
While it might make sense to simply buy a desk and install it next to your bed, it would not work in practice. There are likely to be several distractions in such a place from kids, a spouse, or pets.
On the other hand, having an outhouse or basement with the right atmosphere can keep distractions at bay and help you focus. This isolation is especially true for intensive work such as writing, design, and other creative work.
II. Personalize it using the right decor
How you decorate your office greatly affects your productivity. A grey and gloomy office will hardly inspire creativity, while a brightly themed one will keep your psyche kicking all day.
Color psychology suggests that blue has a soothing and calming effect and can help relieve anxiety. In the same way, green inspires creativity, and red is for mental alertness, and leadership power, yellow is for intelligence, while white improves perfection and accuracy.
When it comes to furniture, more curvilinear shapes inspire comfort and teamwork. Just like Arthur had a round table, research shows that rounded furniture increases productivity.
III. Get the right lighting
You will agree that lighting probably has the biggest impact on your mood. Big windows and bright light increases creativity and freedom, while a bunker-like office increases gloom and hampers productivity.
Natural lighting is your best bet when designing your home office. If you have big windows, move your desk next to them. For working in the evening and at night, task light with added corrective ambient lighting is best.
Overhead lighting such as fluorescent tubes is not recommended due to factors such as flicker and glare, which cause strain and lower productivity.
IV. Get the right furniture
Apart from office decor, comfort plays a big part in your productivity. A lounge or recliner chair might be too comfortable for extended work, while a plastic chair or stool will cause too much discomfort.
V. Install the basics
Just like your work office, a home office needs basics like an internet connection, a phone, a printer, a lockable cabinet, among necessities. These will mainly depend on the nature of your work.
VI. Keep it conducive
Once you have it set up, keep your home office fit for working. Keep it orderly and clean by organizing daily or weekly cleaning? Keep others away at all times to maintain the professional atmosphere. In short, treat it like a real office.
Working From Home Best Practices
The biggest challenge to telecommuting is remaining disciplined. You tend to compromise on working hours for things like social media, sleep, family time, and other 'valid' reasons. However, your productivity will be down to zero if you don't take the right steps.
Veterans who have been working from home for decades narrow it down for five golden tips for maintaining productivity.
1. Schedule your work and stick to it
Every day when you wake up or before you sleep, make a detailed schedule of what you want to achieve. Plan it out by time and urgency, and make sure to prioritize the most urgent or difficult tasks for your most productive hours.
2. Keep in touch with other humans
When you are restricted to working from home, one of the biggest hurdles you face is isolation. The camaraderie and teamwork experienced in the office are lost on you.
You need to stay in touch with the other colleagues as possible through high fidelity communications such as video calls and screen sharing.
When work is over, a group call with everyone or a virtual happy hour will help everyone feel part of the group and alleviate loneliness. A simple 15-minute walk in the open air can also revive your mind and restore productivity.
3. Routine is important
Did you ever think how submarine officers manage to stay sane and productive in a metal tube for months on end? The answer is that they maintain a strict routine. The disciplined forces work like clockwork, which keeps everyone focused no matter the situation.
When cooped up in your work office, you need to develop a daily routine. Have the same morning routine, observe the same break and lunch hours, and maintain the times you clock in and out. That way, you will remain productive even when you feel bored or stressed.
4. Take care of yourself.
A huge challenge with home working is burnouts. You push yourself too hard and don't notice the signs. With no one else to help you or slow you down, you can end up in a hospital. Take good care of yourself to maintain productivity in the long term.
Conclusion: Don’t Just Learn, Implement!
The many benefits of working from home can only be unlocked when you take the right measures to remain productive. Otherwise, it becomes a double-edged sword.
The magic key is to have the right environment to promote productivity. When it becomes difficult to attain such a space, the next best option is to improvise. Earplugs are your best friend when working from home. They’re cheap, they’re effective, and you can get them at discount prices here.