Many of us around the world are becoming more attracted to the idea of working from home, and rightfully so when you consider the plethora of benefits – Just ask the 5% who are actually willing to break up with their spouse just to be able to work from home!

82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels when working from home, which in turn has correlated to a 69% decrease in absenteeism – just one example of how a better working lifestyle can benefit both employee and employer by decreasing health expenses, the spread of colds and flu and contributes to a happier lifestyle.

By working from home you eliminate the need to travel to get to work, which is also a contributing factor to decreased stress, but also to productivity. The added time that would have been spent commuting is contributed to the completion of work-related tasks.

If you want to skip ahead – Read and share our infographic below.

Working from home

If there are clearly enough benefits to prove working from home is better for everyone involved, then why do people work in the office still? One of the main reasons some employers are still against the idea of working from home is down to the lack of trust in their workforce. As quoted by Cary Cooper – Professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School “Managers want people in the office because they want to see their little empires in front of them…and the incompetence of managers who don’t know how to manage people remotely”.

Smaller companies are unfortunately one of the worst at trusting their employees to work from home in comparison to larger corporations. Despite a friendlier and more intimate office environment, there’s a sense of bosses needing to know their employees every move, which is highly influenced by autocratic management.

Some of the reasons why companies shy away from allowing employees to telecommute:

  • Lack of trust in employees
  • Not all jobs can be done from home
  • Working in the office isn’t seen as “that bad”
  • The law
  • Technology (or lack of)

Benefits of working from home

Nicholas Blooms’ TEDxStanford talk: “Go head, tell your boss you’re working from home” sparked much controversy, but was backed up with very compelling research as to why the benefits of telecommuting can sway your employer to consider how their employees like to work.

Some of the many benefits of working from home include:

IT'S ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

  • Working from home eliminates the need for travel in a vehicle.
    • If employers allowed telecommuting – almost 9.6 million cars every year would be off the road – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by almost 53 metric tons!
  • By letting most, if not all employees work from home you eliminate the need for big, commercial office space (or even none at all!). For each person who works from home there is an office space that does not need to be constructed, heated, or cooled – which speaks for itself when it comes to preserving the environment.

POSITIVE EFFECTS ON MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH

  • Working from home has shown to make it easier to eat healthy, as well as have a more manageable work-life balance.
    • Eating the right foods and a better work-life balanced has been correlated to reducing stress levels by 73% and 80% respectively.
  • Long commutes have also been linked to increased stress and even depression as found ina study of 34,000 UK adults who commute for more than 30 minutes daily. The elimination allows employees flexibility to work wherever they wish – be that at home or their local coffee shop.

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

  • Productivity is a common theme and an issue amongst employers who are sceptical about letting their employees work from home.
    • There’s a common misconception of home workers getting easily distracted – but an interesting study found that 1 in 3 office-based workers admitted to experiencing an average of 10 distractions per day!
      • 44% of home workers actually reported fewer distractions, and 45% reported increased productivity.

Tips on productively working from home

Are remote workers more productive than in-office workers? In short – yes. But many people can lack the discipline needed to stay motivated. We think working from home doesn’t come down to willpower, but rather a set of guidelines that can help you maximise your working day:

GET DRESSED FOR WORK

  • Actually getting dressed for the day than sitting in your pyjamas can give you a sense of determination and urgency to get your work tasks complete.
    • A professional outfit can help you feel more productive and change your outlook on how you view your working day.

PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY OR ON SILENT

  • Multitasking is actually bad for the brain. Texting, sending a funny selfie on snapchat or that hilarious cat video might do wonders for a dopamine hit, but not so much for your productivity. Research from the University of Sussex found that avid multi-taskers had less brain density in the brain region responsible for cognitive and emotional control (known as the anterior cingulated cortex).

CREATE THE PERFECT WORKSPACE

  • How you create your workspace really is down to your preferences. You have the ability to run wild by designing your perfect space – one that inspires you to work.
  • The perfect place to work in your home is one of the most important things in order for you to feel both comfortable and productive during working hours.
    • Whilst working from your bed might seem like the most comfortable option – it actually confuses the brain by lowering sleep quality and encouraging lethargy, two things you definitely don’t want to be experiencing in a place associated with sleep and rejuvenation.
  • Have a desk that’s faced against lots of sunlight in a quiet room, is well ventilated and free of clutter.

KEEP A SCHEDULE GOING

  • It’s important to keep a schedule of when your team is online the most, and windows where you’re most productive.
    • Be as active as you possible can during group chats (that are actually work-related), then schedule your deep-rooted work for when you’re feeling most productive in order to maximise your time whilst working from home.

SET TIME LIMITS

  • We’re generally able to fully focus on a task from anywhere between an hour to two hours straight at a time. But after that you need a good 15-20minute break to recuperate before focusing on the next task.
    • Powering straight through can actually be unproductive as you simply cannot finish tasks efficiently t the same standard. Split your day into hourly windows (or a stretch of time that works best for you) and set breaks in order to get work done more efficiently.

HAVE A 'DE-CLUTTER DAY' ONCE A WEEK

  • Your workspace needs to look productive in order for you to be Purge out what doesn’t need to be in your home office and remember to keep on top of it before it gets out of control.

Designing the ideal work from home office space

Whilst the prospect of working from home is incredibly exciting, it can pose a productivity risk if your office space appears ‘too’ casual or isn’t completely separated from the rest of your home. When working from home you have to be strict in the physical boundaries of your working space and your home.

Before you begin – ask yourself the following about your home working space – by answering these questions you’ll be able to devise a plan for your home office that best suits you:

  • What kind of work will you be doing?
  • Will clients be visiting you?
  • Will colleagues come over for meetings?
  • Do you require specialist equipment?
  • Where will the bulk of your work mainly be carried out?
  • Are you going to be video conferencing?

Common mistakes when setting up a home office

  • Not creating enough space for work resources
    • Or filling empty space with irrelevant items that could be used more efficiently
  • Thinking you can tune out loud noises (such as a TV or outdoor traffic)
  • Compromising on equipment quality which could make difficult jobs harder to complete
  • Lots of wires everywhere

Things to consider when setting up your home office

Working from home as we’ve discovered has a variety of benefits. An optimal work-life balance, no need to commute and the freedom to design your own office that’s solely dictated by you – but what do you need to consider before setting up shop in your home office?

EQUIPMENT

Any technology such as your laptop, desktop or tablet has to be of reasonable speed and efficiency. You won’t have IT support if things are running slow, so ensure you know the basics to solving common connection issues or a number handy in case the worst happens.

Ensure you have a phone line separate to your personal one so that your colleagues and clients are not left with a busy tone. Also be advised to get insurance on all of your equipment should there be a case of loss or disaster.

PRIVACY

Noises and interruptions can make all the difference, but not in a good way. You won’t be able to work to your full potential if your office area is constantly disrupted. 

 

If getting a door for your office isn’t an option, a privacy screen and fan on a low setting are just some simple solutions to muffling out noise. Should your window face a pavement or a busy road, a privacy film screen on your windows can also work wonders for that extra bit of privacy and security.

COMFORT AND PRACTICALITY

The top of your work screen should ideally be at eye level. As you scan down your computer screen screen, your eye lids will naturally close a little, giving it a chance to moisten, which in turn reduces eye fatigue.

Whilst your desk is mainly for active and productive work, you also need a place to relax and read too. A great home office should be equipped with a comfortable chair you can recline in, preferably with an ottoman to put your feet up. A luxury cushion and throw can also be just what you need during breaks between tasks for a quick unwind – certainly something you can’t get away with in the office!

LIGHTING

It’s natural for people to put their desk in the corner of the room – which in turn actually recreates a typical office, which probably isn’t the vibe you’re going for. Try facing your desk against a window so you have plenty of natural light shining through.

Should there be no ample daylight available, a combo of desk or floor lights can create a nice soft glow – try going for ergonomic task lighting that you can dim during the brighter hours of the day to save on electricity.

Low lighting can bring about negative effects to the mind such as depression and even Vitamin D deficiency. Ensure any artificial lighting is yellow-cast to mimic the illumination of natural light if it’s scarce.

LAYOUT

Consider how you’re going to layout your office – will your desk be able to fit your desktop/laptop and printer? Do you have ample storage space for all your resources?

Whilst filing cabinets aren’t the most attractive looking pieces of furniture in the world, you do need to consider where you can store loose paper in an efficient fashion.  Try wall storage solutions or magazine/newspaper racks if this seems more appealing.

If your home office is an ex guest room – convert the wardrobe into a fully functioning shelf to save you on some pennies and add a domesticated touch to your working area.

Top tip: Run power strips behind your desk to keep loose wires from going haywire.

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