The COVID-19 pandemic feels like a lifetime ago, and ‘normal’ life has pretty much resumed. Days spent shut in our homes, zoom calls, and bubbles seem like a distant dream, and one most of us would probably like to forget. Whilst life has moved on and the pandemic fades into a thing of the past, there are a few ways that it altered our daily lives that haven’t gone back to the pre-pandemic norm.
One of the more positive outcomes of the pandemic was that people realised work could be done just as effectively (dare we say more effectively sometimes) from the comfort and safety of our own homes. More people than ever are now opting to spend a few days a week working from their home offices or dining room tables, or working entirely remotely all together!
Working from home has many perks and makes balancing daily life and work life a whole lot easier. Managing things like household chores, walking the dog, or picking the kids up from school is so much easier when you’ve only got a few steps commute to get to work. Not to mention that you are in charge of creating an environment that YOU work best in.
Why is a healthy home office important?
As so many of us were rushed into working from home, we are probably making do with what we already have. Our go-to workspaces became the dining room table, the sofa, or even our beds and for many of us, this hasn’t really changed in the last few years.
However, as fun as working from the comfort of our beds is, it isn’t the ideal environment for your body or your mind. Having a workspace that supports your physical health and well-being as well as boosting your productivity and engagement is the key to having a successful home office setup.
Working from your bed or the sofa can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder for you to switch off when it comes to actually going to bed later that evening. When you don’t get a restful night’s sleep, your brain and body don’t have the opportunity to reset and recharge after the day and this can lead to ongoing fatigue and cause problems with your productivity, efficiency, and also your health. Not to mention that sitting in your bed or slouched on the sofa for long periods of time can be very detrimental to your body, particularly your back.
Having a home office that helps you to be more motivated and encourages you to focus is super important to keep your mental and physical health in check. So, without further ado, here are 10 ways that you can make working from home, work for you…
Having access to natural light is one of the first things you should check off your home office improvement checklist! Natural light has so many health benefits and can boost your productivity and improve your sleep cycle. In fact, some companies have reported seeing up to a 15% increase in employees’ productivity after they introduced more natural light in their offices. What’s more is that natural light has been associated with improved mood, as it triggers the release of serotonin, the body’s happy hormone. Vitamin D is a necessary component to boost the immune system and keep you feeling good inside, so having enough exposure to the sun’s natural rays is a great way to keep yourself feeling in top form.
If you struggle for windows, then there are some great lamps you can buy that mimic natural daylight. You shouldn’t have to forfeit feeling good inside and out, so if you don’t have a space with a lot of windows, consider investing in a natural light lamp.
Get an ergonomic chair
If you spend most of your day sitting down at your computer and are wondering why your back has been killing you recently, it’s probably to do with your chair. Bad posture and unsupportive chairs can cause extra strain on your back and neck and leave you feeling really uncomfortable. When you spend so much time sitting at your desk, it’s really important that you’re taking precautions to protect your body and prevent any more serious problems from arising in the future. Purchasing a chair that supports your body properly and helps your posture is super important to keep your body in good condition and stop those annoying aches and pains in their tracks.
Even if you’ve got yourself a super supportive ergonomic desk chair, sitting down for multiple hours in the day is still not advisable. When you’re looking for the perfect desk to add to your home office, it’s a good idea to get one that rises to a standing desk. That way you can get yourself off your bottom and onto your feet as much as you’d like throughout the day. Standing up is important for your circulation, as well as building a stronger core and better posture.
Open a window
Opening a window and letting in some fresh air can actually improve productivity by up to 11%! Even in the deepest, darkest depths of winter, cracking a window and letting in some fresh air is still really important, particularly as the amount of natural sunlight that you’re exposed to is less in the winter months. A lack of fresh air and sunlight can lead to lethargy and kill your motivation before you’ve even started, so if you’ve got a big project to start or an exam to study for, now is the time to throw those windows open and get to work.
When it comes to decorating your workspace to improve your home office setup, think about which colours you want to surround yourself with. Certain colours represent different moods, so it’s important to do your homework before you buy a can of garish orange paint, for example. If you’re someone who struggles with stress and anxiety at work, then calming colours like blue or green are probably a good call. If your job requires a lot of brain power, then white is a good colour for clarity and purple shades represent wisdom and strength. If you’re leaning more toward wallpaper, pick a pattern that speaks to you or inspires you. Every time you look at your wall you should feel relaxed, powerful, and capable.
Keeping on top of hydration throughout the day will boost your metabolism and reduce tiredness so keep a jug or bottle of water to hand on your desk whilst you’re working. A lack of water can affect your memory, as well as cause headaches, and make you feel a bit under the weather, which naturally will stop you from working at your maximum capacity. Keep your water topped up throughout the day and remember to sip it continuously to make sure you’re as hydrated as possible. And make sure that you’re drinking more water than caffeine!
Block out background noise
Working from home has many perks, but it also has a few downfalls too. If you’re living in a busy household or in a noisy neighbourhood, it can be particularly difficult to shut out all the background noise and keep your focus, particularly if you’ve taken our advice and cracked the windows open! If you live with other people or you’ve got children running amuck in your home, blocking out the chaos for a few hours can be a tough mission. If you’re improving your home office from scratch, it might be a good idea to talk to your builders and decorators about soundproofing the room where possible. If that’s not possible, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs, and have these to hand on your desk for when you feel your attention slipping.
Invest in some office plants
Aside from making your home office look nice, plants have actually been found to improve productivity, increase concentration, and make you feel generally happier and less stressed. They are also great at clearing any unwanted toxins from the air around them, so you’ll be working in a clean and pure environment as well! Pop down to your local garden centre and pick up a little plant or two to pop on your desk. It will brighten up your space and help you be even more efficient!
Get out of your pyjamas
This one isn’t necessarily a home office improvement tip however it is a great habit to get into to make sure you’re working at your optimal each day. Rolling out of bed and straight to your desk is not a good way to inspire motivation or feel energised to start the workday. By getting changed, you are actively signalling to your body and brain that the day has started and you’re ready to get your work brain into gear. That doesn’t mean your work clothes can’t be comfy, but just make sure that they’re not what you slept in the night before.
Remember the saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. This is a great way to keep your motivation flowing and work towards the next steps in your career. If you look professional then you’ll feel more professional, so think about how you want to look and feel when you start the workday and try to dress accordingly. This one is a given if you’ve got a day jam-packed with zoom meetings too, make sure you’re looking smart, even if it’s just from the waist up!
Hang some affirmations up
If you find your mindset slipping or your motivation waning, then having some words of encouragement to boost your self-confidence around your home office is a helpful trick to make sure you’re feeling your best at all times. Affirmations work to boost your self-esteem, reinforce your capability, and keep your mindset positive throughout the day, so they’re a helpful addition to your home office.
Did you know that you can download the Morale app and get daily affirmations sent to your phone where ever you are on the go? Join us on the app and invite people from your network to share affirmations with each other every day to keep your mindsets positive and boost your mental health. Whether you’re in the office or working from your newly improved home setup, affirmations are the perfect addition to your workday to keep you feeling in top form and performing at your best!
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