Author: Naji Kazak, General Manager – Middle East, Africa, Turkey & Russia at Alaris, a Kodak Alaris Business
Today’s digitalization trend has turned remote working from a dream into reality. Remote work has been favored by employers not just due to rising real estate costs, but also due to increase in employee productivity where they accomplish more in less time when telecommuting. Telecommuting increases efficiency by eliminating distractions such as spur-of-the-moment meetings, water cooler chat, and noisy coworkers. As is apparent in its name, telecommuting also does away with commuting, so time spent sitting in traffic and finding parking can be put toward actual work.
As attractive as the proposition may be of working from a home office, it does come with certain challenges. Kids, household chores, the temptation to do non-work related things and the general workspace that may not be designed with adequate space, lighting or suitable furniture, may lead to a dip in productivity.
Boosting the Efficiency of the Home Office
Designated Work Area
When your office is part of a larger area in your home, such as the living room, your likelihood of becoming distracted is high. If you don’t have an entire room to dedicate to work, try creating visual boundaries between your work area and living area with bookshelves and partitions.
Tip – if you have kids, make sure it has a door!
Workspace that is Clutter-Free
Clutter causes stress. Lack of organization impairs motivation and state of mind. To think clearly, stay motivated, and be productive and efficient, you have to get rid of the clutter. Luckily, this can be as easy as removing unnecessary papers and items and setting up an effective organization system.
Tip – cleaning the desk every evening/ night after turning off the computer keeps it clean
High Speed Internet and Network Router
If you’re working with a poor internet connection, your efficiency is likely suffering. Besides being a source of frustration, poor connections take your attention away from your work and increase your likelihood of becoming distracted by other things.
It is important to review your different internet service provider options and decide which is best for your home office.
You’ll need a network router if you or your family use more than one laptop or computer in your home. To ensure that your network router can meet your Wi-Fi connectivity needs, you’ll have to consider the types of devices you’ll be using like cellphones, tablets, or smart TVs, as well as the size of the area that requires coverage.
Tip – When buying a router don’t look for the highest performance possible. You should only pay for the features that you need. If you already have a router but the signal isn’t strong enough in your home office, look into a wireless range extender. It will pick up the weak signal, boost it, and retransmit it.
Document scanners allow you to go paperless, which can improve your home office efficiency in multiple ways: by eliminating the distracting clutter of papers, by allowing you to organize documents digitally, and by speeding up workflows. While you will need to maintain a physical organization system for important original documents, digitizing other documents both decreases the number of file cabinets you’ll need and reduces the amount of time you’ll spend searching for documents. It also minimizes the risk of data loss, since you won’t have to worry about misplacing key paperwork. On average, people spend a week searching for lost papers and other items every year, and that time eats into productivity.
Document scanners can speed up certain workflows, such as forms processing. Whereas manually entering data is time-consuming, and mailing documents halts the workflow altogether, scanning and emailing documents take just minutes.
Tip – When buying a home office scanner that is efficient and enhances your productivity, look a feature rich scanner that is easy to setup and scan quickly as soon as it powers on. A wireless scanner can be put in any place you might need it and there are scanners in the market with a flatbed for scanning passports which is a very convenient feature to have.
The type of organization system you choose should depend on your space and the materials that you have to organize. For many home offices, a file cabinet lined with hanging folders will do. When you remove the papers and random objects from your desk, don’t just banish them to another corner of your office — organize them so that you can easily find them when you need them.
You will also likely need storage for all of your office supplies, such as writing utensils, sticky notes, business cards, and so on. A simple storage cart should suffice, allowing you to tuck everything away until you need it.
To really boost efficiency, a standing desk is the way to go. Standing desks have long been promoted as a healthy alternative to sitting all day, but relief from a sedentary lifestyle isn’t the only benefit they offer. Some people go as far as walking on a treadmill while on calls.
Standing triggers your blood to circulate, sending more nutrients and oxygen to your brain, and promotes neurogenesis (the formation of new brain cells). Studies have shown that standing as opposed to sitting increases focus, improves productivity and makes people feel more engaged with their work. When it comes time to choose a standing desk, your options range from the more basic (and less expensive) to the more complex (and costly).
Choose an area for your home office that is exposed to natural light. Placing your desk in front of a window will both give you a nice view and increase your productivity. Studies have revealed the many health benefits of exposure to natural light. For example, the blue light present in natural light contributes to pupil constriction, increasing the visual acuity of your eyes. In other words, natural light boosts your reading ability and productivity. Natural light also prompts endocrine system responses that are necessary to manage your immune system, mood, and sleep. Getting enough exposure to natural light could improve your mental clarity and vision and reduce headaches and migraines.
Tip – If your home office doesn't have access to natural lighting, your next best option is to replace your current light bulbs with full-spectrum light bulbs. While not a substitute for natural light, full-spectrum lights feature the same balanced temperature, and so provide you with some of the same benefits. The crisp white light that they give off is perfect for activities that require visual acuity, such as reading.
Designing your home office keeping in mind the above elements will make you a healthier, happier and more productive worker.