Reminders to practice social distancing are all over the news during these uncertain times. I personally work in our office everyday and love it.
But, when our work from home policy was enacted, a small part of me looked forward to not speeding through my morning routine, packing my lunch and sitting in traffic just to do it all over again the next day.
In order for me to be productive throughout the entire day while working from home, I took a moment to reflect on aspects of my in-office environment that keep me most engaged and thought about how I could bring those things home. Being successful in a home office or study environment requires creating a space that promotes efficiency and focus in a non-traditional way.
Here are a few things I did to make my at home workspace feel just right:
As much fun as it sounds to plop down in front of the TV and play Netflix in the background while I work the day away, sitting cross legged on the couch is hard on my knees.
When I sit on the couch in my criss-cross position for an extended amount of time, I start to lose focus. Shortly after my knees start hurting, my shoulders begin to cramp, and my neck aches from having to look down at the computer in my lap.
It’s important to make your seating area comfortable. Sit at a table where your elbows rest at a 90 degree angle and your computer screen is eye level. Try to avoid staring down at the screen.
Peter Garica, a Technical Recruiter at Visa, gave me advice on this topic. He says, “Set up your home office as close [in look and feel] to your corporate office as possible.” He suggested bringing home your computer monitor from your in-office workstation if your company allows. “Get a good chair too!”
Absorbing natural sunlight offers a myriad of benefits from boosting vitamin D intake, warding off seasonal depression and improving sleep cycles.
A key tip to staying productive during your work or school day is to settle into a predictable routine, the major component of which is a healthy sleep schedule. Exposing yourself to natural sunlight throughout the day makes a natural sleep schedule more achievable.
Now that you have decided to position your comfortable workspace near a window that brings in natural light, your next step is to get a plant. According to research conducted by NASA, houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of toxins in the air in a 24 hour period.
Desk plants, especially with broad leaves, have been known to reduce humidity in your immediate vicinity and increase levels of positivity. Additionally, houseplants have been known to reduce stress levels and increase feelings of calmness productivity. Who knew a little greenery would pack so many benefits!?
I personally enjoy watering my desk plant every morning. The simple acts of watering, pruning, and saying hello to my plant are therapeutic in my morning routine.
The downside of an at home office or study area is that once you nestle in, you lose track of time. For me, I sit down in the morning, and the next thing I know, I haven’t stood up in hours and missed lunch.
Skipping lunch makes most of us grouchy and irritable, which can distract us from staying productive late in the afternoon.
Holly Harris, Senior Technology Recruiter at Visa, makes it a priority to watch the clock. “For me, it’s easy to not take breaks and eat nothing all day. Don’t fall into this trap; get up often and walk across your house, apartment or even around the block. Prioritize eating well.” When working from home, you have to create time to walk around. In contrast, when working in an office or studying on campus, we walk as a part of our daily routines between meetings or classes.
Sometimes people who are used to working in an office feel guilty for stepping outside to walk the block in the middle of the day. On the contrary, these breaks help people feel energized and ready to knock out the next chunk of the day.
Silencing distractions can be tricky. With roommates, family, pets and kids at home, social distancing seems to be anything but distant when in your own home. Getting alone time can be a challenge.
My husband and I both work, and we have two children under the age of five. To manage our work from home schedule, we created dedicated shifts throughout the workday in which one of us can retreat to a space in our home that is quiet and distraction free while the other looks after the kids.
All bets are off when I’m the one on kid duty. They demand my full attention! Luckily, my coworkers are extremely understanding of the challenging circumstances because they know we’re all in this together.
The most important part about working from home is making it work for you! Spending time setting up your station and your schedule will benefit your productivity and reduce your burn out in the long term.
Working from a home office or schooling at home may cause you to overwork than those in a traditional workspace. Whether you choose to hang a clock on the wall or use the alarm on your phone, have some way to track time.
During these times of uncertainty it’s important we all take care of ourselves which includes striking a balance between work, school and home even when all of it collides.