Being cooped up in a home office all day may not seem like the best way to inspire productivity. But, with the right atmosphere and essential office supplies, you can stay on task and make the best of your work-from-home situation.
Accepting that your home office is the real deal is the first step—that includes having a morning routine that resembles the one you were accustomed to when you were commuting to an office.
“Even though you are in a remote environment, it’s super important to get up and dress the part,” says Nellie Akalp, CEO and founder of CorpNet, in Westlake Village, CA. “Shower, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and get ready just as you would for your office. Doing all of that instead of staying in pajamas can really affect mood and productivity.”
Next, it’s time to spruce up your professional base of operations to get you going for a productive day of work.
All pre-pandemic remote workers already know a home office isn’t an office until you bust out all of the essential office supplies, all of which can be ordered online.
“For my team who has all gone remote to get through this trying time, we’ve stocked them with some good old-fashioned supplies: pens, pencils, notepads, and sticky notes. I live for sticky notes!” says Akalp.
A stylish notebook can make taking notes during Zoom meetings or Google Hangouts more enjoyable. We love this one with a cheeky message ($12, Amazon), this elegant version with a leatherlike cover ($17.27, Amazon), and this glam one with a marble pattern on the cover ($15.99, Amazon).
Lighting is also important and can set the right mood for the workday and productivity. Akalp recommends setting up your remote office in a room where there is plenty of light so you don’t feel gloomy. Whip open those blinds and curtains!
“A desk lamp ($28, Target) or some other kind of warm lighting helps make the room feel more comfortable than an overhead light,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager and coach at FlexJobs.
If possible, you don’t want to just work from your laptop propped on your bed. You want your tech workspace to be comfortable and functional.
“A full-size keyboard and mouse are an ergonomic choice, and wireless versions ($49.99, Amazon) won’t clutter up your office space with more cords,” says Reynolds.
She also recommends a second monitor ($200, Best Buy) to provide relief to eyes and posture, which can help increase productivity.
“Ask your employer what they might be able to provide you,” says Reynolds.
And with everyone working virtually, conference calls are going to be more of a necessity to help keep workers connected (and sane). Friends, too. For situations where you need long videoconferences, you may want to go beyond the camera on your laptop and get an external camera, which frees up your workspace and provides better video quality at the same time ($70, Best Buy).
Reynolds recommends using headphones with a microphone ($16.55, Amazon) for conference calls, instead of holding your phone or using your computer’s microphone, which doesn’t offer the best audio experience for those on the receiving end. Bluetooth headphones or AirPods with a solid microphone ($159, Apple) will also work.
Happy office space
Since you’re going to be in your home office all day, you might as well make it your new 9-to-5 happy space. This means adding everything from freshly cut flowers to artwork to office plants ($8.99, Amazon).
“Greenery in your office has several benefits,” says Reynolds. “They act as a mood booster, an oxygen cleanser, and have some of the similar benefits as getting outdoors can have, including reduced stress, increased energy, and a feeling of calm.”
Since the home office will be your new normal for a while, Reynolds suggests taking advantage of the situation by decorating your office with anything that energizes, inspires, or gives you a happiness boost.
“Opt for lots of photographs of outdoor spaces, your friends and family, and other scenes that are important to you,” Reynolds says. Hanging photo holders ($25.99, Amazon) make it easy to display these cheerful scenes on the wall.
Take a break!
So now that you have your little home office up and running, don’t expect to spend all of your time with your head down. Working from home requires a lot of discipline, and that includes learning when to take a break. If you’re easily consumed by your work and need a little reminder to breathe every now and then, there’s an app for that.
“Or just set the time on your phone to go off every hour, reminding you to get up a stretch,” she says.