Last year, having a home office went from being a luxury for people who telecommuted to a necessity for a huge part of our population. Work-life balance took on a whole new meaning as we tried to be productive while having children, pets and partners around 24/7.
Although everyone is hopeful that more people will be able to safely return to their traditional workplaces in 2021, it’s likely that home offices will be with us for the immediate future. We at QC Office (qcoffice.org) would like to offer some suggestions on setting up your workplace for success in the new year, whether you are in a traditional workspace or doing your job from home.
Minimize distractions. It’s easy to imagine that the biggest distraction while working from home is a constant stream of children needing your help or attention while you are trying to work. That can be true, and many parents and caregivers have come up with solutions to let their loved ones know if and when they can be interrupted. Our favorite is a door sign that says: “Mom is working. Do not disturb unless (1) you’re bleeding; (2) the house is on fire; (3) the Amazon guy is Jason Momoa.”
However, the biggest time culprit for most people, whether working in the office or at home, is notifications. It is so tempting to stop everything, read and respond to emails, tweets, slacks, texts or more the moment you see that pop-up on your computer or hear the “ping” of your phone. The reason these interruptions are so insidious is because they not only cost you the time it takes to read and respond to these messages, they also derail your train of thought and flow and it can take up to 20 minutes to get back in “the zone.”
The easiest solution? Shut off those notifications if possible and then set up two or three times a day when you check and respond to emails and social media.
Clear the clutter. A well-organized workspace can help us concentrate and work more efficiently, according to neuroscientists. When we have clutter, we get distracted because the various visual stimuli compete for our brain’s attention.
However, the amount of neatness or organization we need to get work done will depend on the type of work we are doing and our personalities. For some people, clutter can be debilitating. Others find a little clutter helpful. This is particularly true of “right brain” workers such as writers and artists, where multiple visual stimuli can inspire connections and creativity. The key is finding the tools you need to organize your workspace so that it works for you. Tools like drawer organizers, folder trays and desk caddies can help you keep everything in its place.
Regardless of your tolerance for clutter, here are a couple of hints for keeping things under control in your workspace. Once a day, clear out anything on your desk that doesn’t have to do with work – coffee mugs, utensils or your child’s homework. Then, once a week, get rid of any paper you’ve accumulated that you really don’t need.
Your desk is important. We’ve talked about items on your workspace, but now let’s consider the desk itself. There’s an impressive range of desks out there in terms of materials, costs and utility that can be tailored to your workplace or home office needs.
For example, if you have a dedicated room that serves as your office, an L-shaped desk will provide you with two large work areas. If space is tight, a mobile laptop caddy might be the answer. There are traditional desks that you sit at and desks that can be raised and lowered to give you the option of standing while you work.
“It’s important to remember that most office furniture is available in smaller sizes that are better suited to home offices,” said CT McMurray, sales manager at QC Office.
Your chair is even more important. If you don’t plan to stand while you are doing office work, your most important investment might be your chair. Face it – if you are not comfortable in your chair, you will constantly find reasons to get up from it and that’s not conducive to getting work done. Meanwhile, besides comfort, you are going to want support. Hours of sitting can put stress on your back, so investing in an ergonomic desk chair will spare you pain and stiffness in the future.
Use color. It’s not what we typically think of in terms of office décor, but the color in your workspace does play a role in how you work. If you are working from home, you have a lot more control of the color of your walls and can personalize your space more. Much of your color palette will depend on personal preference, but there are studies that have associated color with workplace productivity.
Blues tend to be calming in a hectic environment, although they can also be associated with the cold, so you might want to use accents of warmer tones like brown or green to balance it out. Green is also a peaceful color and has the additional benefit of reducing eye strain. While all-white offices can feel a little clinical, the use of large sections of white can make a smaller office look bigger.
We hope your workspace in 2021 is a place where you can feel productive and enjoy the success of your labors. If you need any help in freshening up your space, getting more organized and having supplies delivered to you, please give QC Office a call at 928-527-3223 or visit us online at qcoffice.org. FBN
By Armando Bernasconi