A Gallup poll from 2016 estimates that roughly 40% of American worked from home at least some of the time. In light of the COVID pandemic, that percentage has dramatically increased. Since spring of 2020, thousands of workers who did not previously work remotely are now working from home. A survey from Stanford estimates that 42% of U.S. workers are now working from home “full time,” while 26% are working as essential workers and a further 33% simply aren’t working at all. In fact, remote work has been going so well for some companies like Twitter that they’re considering maintaining their remote work scheduling for the foreseeable future.
However, keep in mind that with more people connecting, there is more online crime like identity theft, especially with cyber criminals stealing identities to make fraudulent unemployment claims. Even so, if you’re working from home, you can enjoy the benefits that this type of model affords, especially when creating your ideal work from home setup. Consider our tips for creating a dynamic home office space designed with productivity in mind and let Town & Country Federal Credit Union help you keep your information protected when you’re connecting from your home office.
When working remotely, everything depends on your connectivity. If your internet access is unreliable with frequent outages or interruptions, you’re going to have a frustrating time of it--and your employer will feel the frustration too. Investing in the best wireless router you can afford can underscore your own reliability as a remote employee. When you can’t connect online, you can’t meet your employment obligations. Ensure that you have a fast and reliable router so that you can virtually go to work whenever you need to.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case your internet provider runs into a problem and you temporarily lose your connection. A personal hotspot will allow you to connect even when your wi-fi goes down. As an additional protection, consider upgrading your home internet service to a business plan. So, your provider will prioritize your service if you experience any technical issues.
The Right Hardware
Working from home with your laptop temporarily may get the job done, but if you’re working from home on a routine basis, you should have the hardware support that you need. This may require some investment. Fortunately, Town & Country Federal Credit Union is offering personal loans to help workers set up their home office spaces with all the necessary computer and electronic equipment.
A reliable laptop or desktop computer is essential. You should also consider investing in a large monitor (or two depending on your needs), backup hard drive, printer, scanner, and any other items that are essential to your job. Having the right equipment in your home office setup is a top priority. Again, you want to invest in high-quality equipment so you can rely on it day in and day out. Talk to Town & Country Federal Credit Union to learn about its fraud prevention features when working from home via your connective devices.
Carve out the Space
With a laptop and an internet connection, you’re ready to work and be on those Zoom calls in a pinch even if your last-minute setup is on your living room sofa. However, when you’re designing your cool home office space, you’ll need to choose a site for your setup. If you have a spare room that you can transform into your office, that would be ideal. However, you’d need to designate an entire room to create a productive workspace.
Many employees have gotten extremely creative about building their home offices. Some have sited them under their stairs, in their basement or attic, or in a corner of their dining room or living room. Assess your current floor plan to determine where you have extra space. You can get incredibly creative; turn your walk-in closet into a home office. Install a room divider in your living room to section off a place to work.
Ideally, it’s great if you can set up your space near a window so you can take advantage of the natural light. People who get plenty of natural light during the day have been shown to sleep better at night. That means they better rested before each workday. Poor lighting can sabotage your productivity. It can cause you to suffer eyestrain that could, in turn, cause headaches. Light up your workspace, especially if you’re working in an area that doesn’t get much or any natural light.
Desk or Tabletop
Your space is going to necessarily determine the size of your desk or worktable, but you’ll have lots of options when it comes to style. Sit to stand desks are a trend with some staying power that you might want to consider. Since you won’t be running--literally--to catch the early train into work, you should consider ways to maintain your fitness. Standing up to do work may help you reduce risk for some health conditions that are associated with sitting for long periods to do work. At Town & Country, for instance, our employees rely on both sit down and stand-up models. Choose a desk, however, where you are comfortable working as you’re going to be spending a lot of time with it.
A high-quality ergonomic office chair that complements your desk setup is another item that can enhance your productivity. It’s hard to stay motivated when your back is aching because your chair doesn’t provide adequate support. There is a myriad of chair design styles on the market today. An ergonomic chair can reduce back pain, neck pain, and relieve hip pressure. While it can be tempting to order a chair online, this is a purchase you might want to make in person so you can test out some chairs before you settle on one.
You might not initially think that healthy, green plants are essential, but they can definitely enhance how you work. Many types of houseplants actually improve air quality. Hanging a spider plant or aloe vera plant near your workspace could even provide some stress reduction for you. Studies have shown that the presence of a few indoor plants can actually boost productivity by about 15%.
Design a Space You’ll Love
In a typical office setting, you won’t have a lot of choice when it comes to design or aesthetics. That changes when you set up your home office space. If a film poster of Tom Hardy placed above your computer monitor motivates you to work hard, you can have it. This is your ideal space to create. What motivates you? What colors or images make you feel positive and motivated? If you want to move your pet’s bed into your office, you can. Just be sure that you have plenty of space to work and that it’s not over-crowded with your baseball bobblehead collection or anything else that might distract you from getting your work done efficiently.
Set Some Ground Rules
Creating a productive home office set-up isn’t just about tangible items like chairs and tablets. It’s also about behavioral practices. To ensure that you stay on track with work, it may be necessary to lay down some ground rules if you live with others or have children. If you’re perpetually disturbed, you’ll find it difficult to get your work done. Then, work will bleed into the hours that are supposed to be your personal time.
Let your household know your work hours so they can refrain from disturbing you for anything but emergencies. Similarly, avoid taking personal calls from anyone while you’re working. It’s a convenience that you can take calls and interrupt your day to put in a load of laundry or throw dinner into the crock pot, but too many interruptions, can stop you from doing your best work.
Set Your Office Hours and Stick to Them
To enjoy positive work-life balance, confine your work to a set period of time. That way, you can maximize your most productive hours. With a structured day and expected routine, you can schedule your tasks in a manner that suits you best. You might want to tackle your emails first thing in the morning or complete your most difficult work tasks first. Set goals and ensure that you can meet them in your scheduled time frame. Let your employer know that you’re abiding to a structured schedule so they will know when you’re available to meet or take calls.
Document What You Do
Even though you’re working at home, you’re still obligated to your employer. Each company will have different methods for keeping tabs on their remote workforce. For your own sake, take care to document how you spend each day so that when faced with a productivity audit, you’re able to show your work in black and white. You don’t need an elaborate system. You can simply make lists of tasks on your daily calendar or download a helpful app that allows you to track your work. Keeping track of all your tasks isn’t only important for employers. It can help you gauge your productivity so you can tweak it if improvements are needed.
Just like at your employer’s office, work breaks are important. Don’t skip them just because you’re home. Take those breaks to move around and get your blood flowing. Use your lunch break to actually prepare a healthy lunch. Because you’re spending so much time at home, it’s a good idea to get away for your breaks a few times each week. Taking a walk is refreshing.
A home office that’s designed with your productivity goals in mind is perfectly achievable with careful planning. You can create a budget from the start so you know what you can afford to spend on the various features you need for your workspace. If you’d like to invest in a major renovation to create a home office in your home, talk to Town & Country about applying for a personal loan. Investing in your productive office space is an investment in your career, and we’d love to help.
For more information and personal loan options, schedule an appointment here to speak with a Town & Country representative.