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Zoom meetings, virtual happy hours, dress shirts paired with sweatpants — the past year transformed the average 9 to 5. “Work from home” was a buzzword in 2020, and this year remote work continues to be as much the norm as the exception.
If you’re one of many U.S. employees still working from your couch in 2021, it might be time for an upgrade.
A computer and internet connection are only the start of your work-from-home setup. A well-designed remote workspace can enhance focus, foster productivity, and help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. And this principle applies to both full home offices and tiny computer nooks.
Here are some ideas to spruce up your remote workspace so you can achieve your best workflow throughout the day.
A cluttered desk leads to a cluttered mind. When you’re trying to hit your workday stride, a neat and organized workspace will keep you focused and creative. Consider swapping your minimal work table for a desk with drawers. File cabinets, hanging shelves, and bookcases can also be useful for bringing order to your space.
Just remember that your organizational overhaul requires more than the right furnishings — it requires action, too. Take a few minutes at the end of the workday to tidy your desk, file away stray paperwork, and bring your coffee mugs to the sink. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Remote work depends on a reliable internet connection. A connection failure in the middle of a critical meeting could have real job implications. So if your video calls are lagging, it’s likely time to look into a new internet service provider.
Making the switch to high-speed internet will boost your productivity and provide general peace of mind. The best internet providers will help you measure your current connection speed to ensure that you’re getting an upgrade. With the right internet provider and dependable service, you won’t have to think about your Wi-Fi connection at all.
Desk jobs and back pain often go together, especially when you forget to take stretch breaks throughout the day. However, your chair may also be to blame. If you’re using a wooden kitchen stool or outdated desk chair, investing in an ergonomic model can provide much-needed relief.
When searching for your ideal desk chair, look for a model that supports your lower back, encourages proper posture, and adjusts easily. Your chair should be able to match the height of your desk, so you can keep your thighs parallel to the floor. Selecting a stylish piece doesn’t hurt, either. The chair will contribute to both your comfort and your workspace aesthetic.
The perfect chair may be the solution to your aches and pains, but some remote employees are ditching their chairs altogether. Standing desks provide a remedy for the sedentary workday. You can improve blood flow, focus on your posture, and sneak in more movement by opting for this product.
That said, it might be unrealistic to spend your whole day vertical. Standing desks are also available in hybrid models, so you can lower the desktop and sit down for a while. The ability to switch back and forth might be enough to fight off desk-job stiffness.
Lighting is an essential workspace feature that you might be overlooking. Research shows that lighting can make or break your productivity, so consider making some lighting enhancements in your remote work zone. In general, natural light is the best option for workspaces. Keeping the blinds open reduces eye strain and aligns with the body’s circadian rhythm.
Don’t have a window nearby? Choose LED bulbs that mimic natural light. Warm tones will create a cozier space, while cooler lights are best for alertness. Try a few options out until you find a lighting scheme that matches your needs.
If you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, your computer speakers likely won’t cut it anymore. If you’ve been struggling to hear your colleagues during those many Zoom meetings, a quality set of speakers is in order. Placing your speakers on each side of your work area and situating them at ear level can significantly enhance the sound.
If you’re sharing a workspace with a roommate or partner, a new pair of headphones might be a suitable alternative to speakers. Noise-cancelling headphones, in particular, can drown out your home officemate’s chatter and typing sounds, so your focus won’t suffer.
As you make tech-oriented switches like upgrading your internet service provider, consider a few low-tech upgrades as well. A fresh coat of paint will instantly freshen up your workspace and set the tone for your days. Whether you have a home office or are working from the dining room table, think about the type of environment you want to create.
A blue or gray wall will give your space a calm and serious tone, while a yellow or orange wall will be more energizing. A neutral wall is a great option if you work best in a minimal environment. Once you choose the paint color, you can hang some pieces of art to put the finishing touches on your ideal work environment.
A plant is another simple upgrade that can boost your mood and enhance focus. Research has shown a clear link between greenery in offices and employee wellness, but you needn’t plant a forest to reap the benefits.
A simple succulent on your desk or vining plant by the window will freshen up your workspace — and your mind. Plants can also offer the opportunity to hit pause. Standing up to water your African violet or pinch off some dead leaves might be just the break you need.
As you enhance your remote workspace, remember that subtle changes pack a real punch. Also, keep in mind you don’t have to make all your upgrades at once. You might get your filing cabinet first, say, then spend more time researching ergonomic chairs. However you time your upgrades, you can be sure they will be well worth the boost in productivity.