8 clever home office tips to improve your workflow

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 eight core home office tips and how they can help.

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1. Order

When you work from home, your office is essentially your workplace. Thus, it needs to be to create a conducive work environment. Order in your home office helps reduce clutter and instantly improves the room's aesthetics, making it more inviting and conducive for work. It is easier to focus on tasks when you're in an uncluttered environment, which can translate to increased productivity.

A well-organized home office also helps you find important documents, files, and tools quickly and easily. That, in turn, can save you time and reduce stress. Furthermore, it is also vital that your home office is safe and comfortable to prevent physical injuries when working or physical stress. For example, using an ergonomic chair is a must because it helps you maintain good posture, prevent back pain, and reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

To wrap it up, you should always clean up your working desk at the end of the day. That organizational habit helps you transition from work mode to relaxation mode, making it easier to disconnect and recharge for tomorrow.

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. Draw a line

Working from home can be challenging if there are other distractions around. Children present the most challenging distractions. They think of their work-from-home parents as being on holiday and, thus, seek their attention frequently. Other distractions, not exclusive to parents, include interruptions by unexpected visitors, loud talking by roommates, and general household noises like dishwasher, washing machine, or vacuuming.  

Discuss your needs with family members or roommates to create a setting where you remain focused. Remind them that you need quiet time for your work. Share this reminder and your work schedule with those around you! After setting boundaries with your close ones, do the same with work. So, at the end of your work day, try to switch off and enjoy quality time with family, roommates, and friends.

4. Stay in touch

Although working from home has advantages, it can also lead to feelings of isolation. However, there are numerous ways to stay connected with the people who matter most in our lives while enhancing their mental well-being as well as ours.

Human interaction matters in and out of work. Therefore, we should prioritize scheduling video calls or picking up the phone instead of relying solely on emails. If you're struggling with remote work arrangements, don't hesitate to reach out for support by speaking with your colleagues or manager about any concerns.

It's important not to forget that others around us might feel similarly isolated during this time too. Therefore, take a moment each day and ask how they're doing - perhaps even offer mutual encouragement along the way!

Make virtual socializing a priority: schedule digital coffee breaks throughout your week, or plan an online get-together every Friday evening! By incorporating these small changes into your routine now more than ever before-staying socially active will become second nature over time.

5. 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.

Exercising helps you improve your mood, boost focus and concentration, and increase productivity. Also, physical activity increases energy levels, thus reducing work-related fatigue and improving your overall well-being. For example, post-work exercise helps you "clear your head" after work. Meanwhile, off-work active breaks allow you to stretch, stand up, go outside, or take a brisk walk. In this way, you can break the monotony of long hours of sitting, which leads to physical discomfort and unnecessary stress.

Incorporating physical exercise into your routine can help you develop better time management skills, set goals, and manage outcomes. All is possible due to the generation of better cognitive function by physical activity. That leads to less overtime requirement, allowing more time for other hobbies or commitments outside work. Ultimately, engaging in physical activities off and after work leads to a healthier work-life balance.

6. Establish 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..

7. Take full breaks

Scheduling working hours is crucial, but setting up fixed breaks for yourself is equally important. In these moments, you should temporarily "switch off" and get away from work. That way, you can maintain concentration and prevent burnout. In other words, taking breaks allows you to recharge and renew energy levels, which can help sustain high performance throughout the day.

Even if it's only for a few minutes, you should take your breaks in their entirety. During the break, you should disconnect from work as much as possible and avoid activities that could distract you or cause stress. Taking a short walk in the fresh air can help you clear your mind, improve your circulation and get a "fresh pair of eyes." And, if possible, shifting your lunchtime routine to a proper dining area, nearby park, or just your living room table can help you break away from work and recharge your physical and mental self.

8. Think of the long game

As you may still be working remotely for the foreseeable future, consider enhancing your work-from-home experience. Perhaps you can find a cozier room in your house or an area with ample natural light that could boost productivity and motivation.

Furthermore, take some time to evaluate how effectively you collaborate with colleagues virtually. Explore alternative communication methods or innovative software solutions available that can streamline teamwork. All these options can elevate individual performance but also team efficiency and output.

Summary of home office tips

Working from home can be a great way to stay productive, but without the proper approach, it can backfire. The eight tips we presented provide a comprehensive way to ensure that you get the most out of your home office experience - from establishing a consistent task order and fixed work hours, to separating your workspace from other areas in your home, and to planning your day so you can make the most of your time.

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FAQ: Home Office Tips

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

The value of M&A deals, 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?

The value of M&A deals, 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.