With remote working establishing new norms across multiple industries, it’s no wonder that employees are crying out for new and better home offices. The IDC predicts that we’ll have a staggering 105 million mobile workers in the labor force by 2020. Meanwhile, even those of us who commute daily to a traditional office have begun to spend more time checking email and cinching up last-minute details outside the office. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average worker spends upwards of three hours working at home.
Rethinking the Desk
Most of us are used to the unwavering heft of a heavy, stationary desk. And while a carved oak writing desk does bring a certain ambience, it’s just not practical anymore. Work isn’t done with a quill and pen, so why should your desk design date back to before the Industrial Revolution?
The standing desk is, of course, one of the more obvious iterations of this line of thinking. And there may be something to them—not just as a benefit for your health, but as a way of tapping your inner reservoir of productivity. According to research coming from Texas A&M, ergonomical standing workstations actual boosted employee efficiency. An adjustable computer cart allows you to make your workspace wherever it needs to be for the moment—near a window for creative brainstorming, or in a spot with better light for presentations. You can use shelves and tables in other areas for stationary objects like your printer or office decor.
Offices Need to Separated—But Not From a Design Standpoint
It’s tempting to think of your office merely for its functional performance, but in a home office, decor and efficiency actually go hand-in-hand. Numerous studies have confirmed that light, natural elements, and our overall positivity have an enormous effect on our overall productivity and our ability to think clearly.
And most workers’ jobs aren’t made up merely of a single task that they perform over and over again. Yes, you’re a sales manager, but you’re also a therapist, a field reporter, and a leader. From that perspective, it makes sense to zone offices into different areas for each role—and remember the human element. Work research shows that office workers are most effective when they pause to take breaks, so build in a calming zone with lower light, a couch, and a few distractions like books or brain puzzles to give you a break from your busy day.
Communication Takes First Precedent
No matter how literally you take the word “remote,” no worker is truly an island. All of us have to do serious communicating in our day-to-day worklives, and that concept becomes all the more pressing when you work from home and can’t stop by a coworker’s cubicle to rehash your newest idea for a sales initiative.
One way that seems to work is to separate your day into communication-heavy tasks, like meetings, taking calls, and chatting with coworkers, and more concentration-oriented work. While you can’t always push off a coworker who needs information, knowing that you focus best in the early mornings, can allow you to design your day at least somewhat to your liking. You can even separate these tasks into different parts of your home office, which will give your brain a visual queue when it’s time to switch over. For instance, hold long-distance meetings in a part of the room that’s full of bright overhead light and stimulating, energizing decor.
Whatever you do, make sure to train the rest of the gang to use a chat app as the bulwark of their communication—in particular, one like Gchat or Slack that will allow you to switch over to video conference in a moment’s notice. But stay flexible, especially if you work regularly with clients outside the office. If a client prefers another app, be willing to try it. Flexibility represents the new mode of office work—so be ready to embrace the change!
About Erin Vaughan
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.