The new normal: four tips for creating a more productive work-from-home environment

Our world has changed in so many ways. While we understand how social distancing can bring us closer together, we know the implications of a global pandemic continue to affect every aspect of our lives. Our “new normal” is taking shape everywhere, especially at home where our dining rooms are serving double duty as our remote offices.

At Vaco, we’ve been reaching out to our clients and candidates, and we know everyone is still perfecting their work-from-home routine. We are here to help. To provide insight on increasing your productivity while working from home, we are bringing you a six-part “WFH productivity” series on our best tips and tricks.

So, to get the series started here’s advice from Kimberly Andrikaitis on creating a more productive work-from-home environment – one that is ripe for productivity, creativity, and focus.

Build the optimum space

Find a space in your home that can act as your new office. Many of us don’t have spare, unused rooms available to us and that’s okay. Get creative! This is the perfect time to convert wasted space into a fully functioning area.

Investigate the nooks and crannies of your home, with fresh eyes and an open mind. Is there a corner of a room you can turn into an office? What about that formal family room used only on major holidays? Or the large landing at the top of the stairs, where the kid’s toys tend to multiply and accumulate? Ask yourself, “Are you really utilizing your craft room/attic/den/basement, or can it be converted into an office?” This is the perfect time to take stock of how you are using your existing square footage and identify unused space.

While you’re hunting for a cozy nook to call your home office, consider where the natural light filters in or where the house may be slightly quieter. Where does the sun rise or fall? What is the view from the nearest window? Where would the least amount of distractions (noises, smells, activity) occur? Are there outlets nearby?

Fill your dedicated space with productive tools

After you identified your new office space, fill it with objects that foster productivity, creativity, and focus. You’ll need a flat surface such as an office desk or table, and an extremely comfortable, ergonomic chair with wheels.

A standing desk is another fantastic alternative due to its health benefits, such as burning a few extra calories and reducing shoulder or back pain. They range in price but are worth the initial investment. And keep in mind that a standing desk converter is a more budget-friendly option that offers the same advantages.

To keep your electronics within reach and at maximum power, add a charging station to your workspace. If possible, set up a larger monitor (24-inches or more) at eye level; this will help alleviate eyestrain and neck pain. (Tip: If money is tight, see if you can borrow a monitor from your employer.) Another way to maximize productivity is to invest in a pair of comfortable noise-canceling headphones or a headset. Wireless ones are optimal, so you can free up your hands for typing or shoo’ing your family away.

Fill your home office space with calming tools

Now that you’ve got your electronics in place, consider adding a small table lamp for warm light and a potted plant to reduce stress and produce oxygen. Include a beloved framed photo, a lightly scented candle, or your favorite trinket. The goal is to surround yourself with items that bring a smile to your face and ease to your mind; all of this adds to your productivity.

Reduce distractions

To further separate your new working space and for added privacy, order a room divider. This will also help create a barrier from minor distractions throughout the day. Free-standing or floating bookshelves help to further organize your space, along with storage cubes. A wall clock with silent hands allows you to work free from distractions and keep tabs on the time.

Is working from home the new normal?

For some, working remotely from home is only part of helping flatten the curve, and many workers will head back to their offices once we get the “all clear.” However, for some companies, expanding work-from-home policies might be part of their new normal, allowing more employees to work remotely more often. (Our world and work routines are definitely evolving!)

Regardless of how much longer or how often we work from home, these strategies can establish a home office that offers a proper (and fully functioning) workspace anytime you need it. And one critical aspect is ergonomics – be sure your new space is designed for comfort and efficiency. Luckily, we can help with that too. Don’t miss our “Home Office Ergonomics” LinkedIn Live session that’s part of our WFH Wellness Program.

And once you have a home office that works for you, the next phase is structuring your days to be both productive and gratifying. Keep your eyes open for part two of this series, which will provide tips and tricks for creating a more productive routine.

Learn more about Kimberly here.