With the rise of the gig economy, home offices are becoming increasingly common. More and more people are doing work on a freelance basis, getting rid of overheads like transport costs and the daily commute.
Given the fact that there is no need to travel, you would have thought that freelancers would be a lot more productive than the average office worker would. However, it turns out that many are not thanks to poor working environments.
Large companies have had decades to figure out how to create working environments to boost output. However, freelancers who only have expertise in their own narrow area usually do not. In addition, this is creating a problem: workers in offices could be at an advantage over home-based freelancers all because of the home environment. So what can you do to improve your home working conditions and make them more conducive to personal productivity?
Make Sure Your Equipment Is Responsive and Fast
Just because your office is in your home does not mean that you should skimp on equipment. Any home office equipment you use should be just as good as the commercial equivalent. Inkjet printers and old desktop computers will only slow you down, leading to frustration and unnecessarily long working days. Make sure you use computers that use SSD drives, not hard drives, as these load much more quickly than their mechanical counterparts do.
Invest In Quality Lighting
As humans, we are hardwired to get up at dawn and go to bed at dusk. As a result, our bodies have evolved a set of complex systems to govern when we go to sleep and when we wake up. Modern living, however, often works against this natural cycle, especially if we work indoors, out of direct sunlight.
The reason lighting is important is because it determines our waking cycle. Put simply, we need white light coming in through our eyes to stimulate our brains to make waking hormones, like serotonin. Without these hormones, we end up feeling sleepy and lacking in concentration: not something you want while you are doing detailed work for a client.
If daylight is available in your home office, make sure to open the curtains and place your computer as close as possible to natural light. If you are in a room that does not have any windows, like a basement, look online for lights, which emit the full spectrum of light emitted by the sun. These daylight-replicating sources of light can be extremely effective at informing your body that it’s daytime and that the time has come to start producing vital, waking hormones.
Keep the Temperature Optimal
Businesses have known for a long time that the ideal temperature for maximum productivity is between 21 and 22 degrees Celsius. It is a good idea, therefore, according to Academy Air to make sure that your climate control and air conditioning systems are in good working order. If the temperature climbs too high in the summer or falls too low in the winter, your concentration could suffer and what you thought would be a quick job could turn into something that lasts many hours.
Shut Out All Distractions
One of the disadvantages of centralized offices is the distractions. People are constantly interrupting your work, asking you to go to meetings and arranging working lunches. At home, you might have thought that these problems would disappear, especially if you work by yourself. Nevertheless, it turns out that most home offices are just as interruption-prone as their commercial equivalents.
You can try a few things to block out distractions. First, create “do not disturb” policy while you are in the office. Put a note on the door and tell any family members only to disturb you if there is an emergency. Second, grab some earplugs or some headphone. Blocking out sound can help some people concentrate better on the work in front of them.
Finally, if your office is part of an open plan living space and it is not possible to prevent people from coming in, try putting up dividers around your screen to give you additional privacy.
Make Sure There’s A Place for Everything
Work can be stressful enough at the best of times. However, your angst can reach new heights if you cannot find something you are looking for quickly and easily. This is why you need to make sure that there is a place for everything from your phone charger to your pencil.
Things like pencil cups and trays can be a real benefit if you do a lot of writing. Many crafts shops also sell containers that make storage easy.