If there is something that businesses and individuals alike have learned in the recent past is the need for agility to work from anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic hit everyone unaware and overturned the way people work in what seemed like overnight.
Businesses had to deploy their workers to continue working from home due to social distancing measures. Individuals who were used to working remotely in coffee shops or coworking spaces had to shift to working from home.
So, when working from home, what do you need? To be productive working from home you need the right office equipment and supplies for the work you do, reliable internet connection, communication software and apps, a solid desk, ergonomic chair, dedicated workspace, color, regular working hours, and reminders to take regular breaks.
Unfortunately, adjusting to the situation has been a struggle for people who hadn’t had a shot at working from home previously. Many months later, a significant number of people have still not figured what they need to successfully work from home.
If you are among them, here is what you need to work from home for you to be productive.
1. Office Equipment
The office equipment that you need depends on the type of work that you do. If you are a freelance writer, a computer with a good internet connection is enough. If you are into transcription, you will require a set of headphones on top of the two. Likewise, if you work for a call center services provider, you will require a landline phone service, corded telephone, headset with a noise-canceling microphone among others.
Technically, a computer is what you will need to perform your work. A basic desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse can do as long as it can handle your work requirements. Otherwise, you can also opt for a more expensive choice depending on your budget- a laptop or a tablet. You will also need a printer if you do some printing.
2. Office Supplies
Just like office equipment, the supplies that you need depend on the requirements of your work. However, you can stock basic supplies such as pens, papers, paper clips and holders, files, staplers and staples, scissors, and highlighters among others.
3. Internet Connection
From communicating with other team members, pitching for jobs to submitting your work, everything practically happens over the internet. If you are to work effectively with no hurdles, you will need a good and reliable internet connection.
Since you are working from home, it can be hard to say no to the people that you live with if they want to use the internet. Unfortunately, sharing can significantly slow down the connection. Have a separate internet connection dedicated to your work to counter this. If the budget doesn’t allow, you can set some ground rules with them, or move closer to the router.
4. Communication Apps and Software
As said above, communication happens virtually. It is also good to note that you will need to stay connected with your team members to avoid negative feelings of working in isolation. That being said, you need to have installed the necessary apps on your computer. Remember to ask your employer the apps used by the team so you stay on the same page.
In addition, you need the right software for your work installed on your computer. Likewise, the IT department from your employer should ensure that you have this. If you are working solo, however, it is your work to determine the best software for you. Furthermore, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with all the tools necessary for smooth working. For example, when working remotely you will need to send large files to your coworkers and you need the right software to make that as seamless and time-efficient as possible.
5. A Chair and Desk
Most people envision working from home as setting a laptop on your lap from the sofa or bed. While this is true for most people and can serve as a temporary solution, working like this for long can cause some health complications such as neck and backaches. Having a close view on the screen can also be harmful to the eyes.
Basically, you will need a good chair and desk. The dining or kitchen table is a good place to start if you don’t have a budget. Try raising your laptop higher by stacking some books underneath it.
6. A Dedicated Workspace
There are many distractions at home, which can easily take away your focus, limiting your productivity. That is why you must try to limit them. A spare room with a lockable door is ideal as you can lock out any distractions. However, the reality for most people is limited space. You can remedy that by looking for the least frequented area of the home. If it is in the kitchen or living room, let it be the corner that people rarely reach.
You can eliminate distractions that come from your phone by simply turning it off while you’re working. You can also put it in silent mode and turn it face-down to keep distractions from notifications and calls away.
A dull home office makes your work boring and takes a toll on your productivity. But if you work in an environment that keeps you engaged psychologically, you’ll love your job, work better, and accomplish your goals. Professional color psychologists say that different wavelengths of colors have a major impact on our psychology.
Blue fosters reasoning and productivity while yellow enhances our creativity. Red promotes physical activity. Your mood depends on your senses. If you create a comfortable and lively work environment at home, you’ll also feel comfortable and happy. So decorate your home office space with colors that are likely to boost your logic, creativity, and productivity.
8. Regular Working Hours
Come up with a clear work schedule and follow it strictly. Putting clear guidelines for when to handle work-related tasks and when to stop in place can help you maintain a good work-life balance. Even if you have to begin early or extend your day by a few hours to accommodate a colleague’s time zone, ensure you call it a day earlier than usual or extend your sleep slightly in the next morning to compensate for it.
Use time-tracking apps like RescueTime time to help you stick to your work schedule. These apps can also help you determine the hours that you’re highly productive and when your productivity declines. With this information, you can schedule important and demanding tasks to the times of the day when your productivity is high.
Taking a short break helps you recharge and resume your tasks with new vigor. It also enables you to pay attention to your goals and tasks on your to-do lists, which improves your productivity significantly. So ensure you understand your employer’s policy on break times and don’t skip them. Walk away from your work desk for at least 15 minutes for a coffee break and at least an hour for lunch.
Resume work only when you have exhausted your break time. You can use apps like Smart Break or TimeOut for Windows and Mac respectively to lock your computer for an hour, especially during lunch break. Alternatively, you can start a timer on your computer screen before walking away from your desk. If you get back to your desk after just 30 minutes, you can still take another 30-minute break.
Working from home doesn’t have to be complicated. You can improvise what you have and upgrade as you go. If you have an employer, however, it is good to discuss the standards. Know how he can help you get set for work, what he can provide, and what you need to get on your own.