5 clever home office tips to improve your workflow - OFESS Formula

Coachee during a business coaching session by Sparrks



The pandemic has flipped our workday on its head. Many now work from home and will continue to do so. Such workers don't waste time commuting and sitting in traffic jams. Instead, they have more spare time that they can use for family and hobbies. Now, employees enjoy a healthier work-life balance from the home office. Everything is seemingly perfect, and no one has to read an article on home office tips!

But that's not always the case. Many employees have trouble separating the personal from the professional when both happen in the same space. For example, they quickly answer an email in the evening or check their mailbox on the weekend. Also, they get distracted by their kids and family members.

To help all workers get the most out of the home office, we go through five core home office tips and how they can help.

Sparrks' OFESS Formula

At Sparrks , we analyzed different pain points of the home office. We found the spatial separation between the personal and professional to be the most critical challenge. As such, we developed the OFESS approach (Order, Fixed, Exercise, Spatial Separation, Scheduling) to help workers at home overcome this and other challenges. Let's start with the order!

Banner pointing to a whitepaper download for the eBook "Improve business performance with Sparrks coaching."

1. Order

Make sure your workspace is tidy, with space for only those items you need for work. Thus, you can concentrate on the essentials and avoid distractions. Also, tidying up your desk at the end of the day can help you mentally prepare to switch off for the evening.

2. Fixed working hours

Even though you are much more flexible when working at home, remember this tip: Set blocks of time in which you dedicate yourself exclusively to your work. During such time slots, you should avoid household tasks such as quickly hanging up the laundry or watering your plants. These seemingly quick tasks interrupt your workflow leaving your focus fractured.

It is helpful if you communicate your working hours to your colleagues and superiors in advance. This way, they know when you are available and when you are not. It also binds you to your working hours and helps you to stick to them.

Once working hours are over, relish that "done for the day" feeling and detach from your work tasks guilt-free.

3. Exercise

Those who work in a home office lose out on some exercise. That's because they no longer commute or take trips to get coffee and lunch. At home, the kitchen is right next door. Therefore, you should proactively create time for physical activity.

Schedule time in your breaks and after work for a walk or sports activities. Such post-work or off-work dedication to exercise is good for your health and fitness. It also helps you "clear your head" after work.

4. Spatial separation

If you have the opportunity, you should physically separate your workplace at home from your living and sleeping areas. Such separation is possible through utilizing or setting up a space dedicated to work. It is best to leave the door to the study closed after work if possible.

Home office in-text image

But even if you don't have a separate office room, you should avoid scattering your work tools (laptops, staplers, etc.) throughout your household. Instead, designate one place in your home as your permanent workplace. In this place, you should also stow your work documents in filing boxes or drawers after work. This way, they "disappear" from your field of vision and, often, from your thoughts..

5. Schedule breaks

Scheduling working hours is crucial, but so is setting up fixed breaks for yourself. In these moments, you should "switch off" for a short time and get away from work. For example, avoid eating your lunch in haste, on your desk, while checking your email. While this may be tempting when the fridge is right next door, it will strain your ability to concentrate. Instead, take a short walk in the fresh air and try to eat your lunch somewhere other than your working desk.

Summary of Home Office Tips from the OFESS Formula

Working from home can be a great way to stay productive, but without the proper approach, it can backfire. Sparrks' OFESS approach is an easy-to-remember formula that provides five core tips on making your home office experience productive and balanced. From establishing a consistent order of tasks and setting fixed working hours, and separating your workspace from other areas in your home to scheduling your day so you can make the most of your time, the OFESS formula (Order, Fixed, Exercise, Spatial Separation, and Scheduling) is a comprehensive way to ensure that you get the most out of your home office experience.

Banner pointing to a whitepaper download for the eBook "Improve business performance with Sparrks coaching."

FAQ: Home Office Tips

Do employees save money by working from home rather than in-office?

According to a study by Owl Labs , employees working from home save at least twice as much more money per month than those working in-office part-time or full-time.

Do companies save money by allowing work from home?

According to a research by Deutsche Bank , companies across the 15 million in-office employees of the German market experienced reduced costs due to the widespread use of work from home (most benefits coming from reduced expenses on office space and implementation of rotating office scheduling).

Should companies pay for home office settings and equipment for their employees?

Current regulations in most countries do not legally bind companies into providing home office equipment for their employees.