You’re a remote worker. You’ve got the must-haves covered. You’re leaning back into that comfortable chair, headset ready for any calls and your desk is organised thanks to that ingenious new filing system. But your home office just doesn’t feel perfected.
There’s a reason that Google spends a fortune on its offices: a well-constructed work environment can have a dramatic effect on employees’ creativity and motivation. Organisational behaviourist Monica Parker maintains that a well-designed office is the key to ‘ensuring you have a healthy, happy workforce’.
Then why should things be any different for us home workers? We need happy, productive spaces too, so here are 7 off-the-wall tips to help you optimise your home office.
Start small. The addition of a few non-essential items can make a huge difference to your everyday.
1) A handheld hoover
There’s nothing worse than trying to type on an unkempt desk strewn with scraps of paper and biscuit crumbs (and let’s face it, biscuits are a writer’s best friend). That’s why the handheld hoover might just become your favourite household tool.
Vacuuming the dust and debris from your desk space isn’t just incredibly satisfying; it eliminates any office mess double-time, meaning you spend less time procrastinating cleaning and more time being productive.
2) A back-to-basics calendar
What’s quicker: clicking through to Outlook and waiting for your calendar panel to load, or taking a swift glance at an old-fashioned calendar? When multiple deadlines are creeping up on you, you rarely know what year you’re in let alone what day it is. So when a client says, ‘can I have that by tomorrow?’, you’ll be thankful for the delay-free access to your schedule.
Using wall space de-clutters your desk, optimises your workflow and even adds a personal touch to your surroundings.
3) The all-powerful pin board
Is it just me or did everyone have one of these on their wall when they were a kid? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t revive that childhood space saver. A pin board is a perfect place for quickly sticking up your to-do’s, ideas or even inspirational quotes, turning your wall into a reviewable visualisation of your thoughts.
4) Posters, art or something daft
One of the best parts of working from home is that you can make your workspace your own. There’s nothing blander than a blank wall. Fill it with some personality: you know better than anyone what motivates and inspires you but make sure it reminds you that your job is more than just replying to emails and completing tasks. Build a shrine to creativity.
5) Wall-hung newspaper rack
You’ve finally managed to contain your sprawling mass of papers into a bunch of files. Problem: your desk is covered in files. Solution: make use of that empty wall space by buying and fitting a wall newspaper rack.
Colour yourself motivated
If your office looks lifeless and drab, your work probably will be too. Psychologist Dr. Chris Knight says; ‘If you are working in an environment where there's something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better’.
6) Something living
If you’re not fortunate enough to have an office with a river-side view, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the outside world. Growing yourself a house plant is very low-maintenance, but provides a remarkably soothing influence on a busy work space. In fact, aforementioned Dr. Knight’s 2014 research project suggests that the introduction of plants into a ‘lean’ workspace can increase productivity by 15 percent. That's a big ROI for a few plants.
If you fancy a challenge, maybe it’s time to try your hand at grooming a bonsai tree, or to start that tropical fish collection you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you go the high-maintenance or hassle-free route, bring a bit of the outside world inside: transform your barren grey box into a leafy green refuge.
7) Paint the town ROYGBIV
The surprising thing about colour is how much it affects our mental state. In an interview, colour psychologist Angela Wright highlights the power that different wavelengths of light (aka colours) have on our psychology. Blue stimulates logic and productivity, yellow heightens creativity and red encourages physical action.
That all seems like hippy make believe, right? Wrong. Think how a piece of music can affect your emotions: our senses are fundamentally tied to our mood.
Re-think your outlook on colour, and - with the right inspiration - you can turn a neutral zone of metal and oak into a vibrant and inspiring workspace.
Home working, optimised
When it comes to a home office, (outdated cultural reference imminent) why not indulge in the Pimp-My-Ride approach? It’s easy to neglect your work space, but spending the extra time and money on perfecting it will make a huge difference to your productivity, creativity and - most importantly – your happiness.
A handful of small changes can revolutionise your remote working experience. Whether you go get yourself some productivity-boosting tools, or completely revamp the look of your study, choosing to optimise your home office is the undervalued secret to optimised remote working.