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How To Get the Most Out of Working From Home

Having the ability to work from home has its pros and cons, but if your boss allows (and you plan correctly), you can make big advances. Productivity is maximized when you are in the right mindset. Consider the following so your at-home workspace is best utilized: location, location, location -- find a space that is functional yet distraction free. Next, when decorating, keep your productivity in mind. Proper lighting and having an ergonomic desk chair can make or break your experience (or increase your back pain). Third, keep your office supplies handy. Finally, avoid disruptions. Alter the settings on your computer, so texts from friends who are at the beach do not pop up mid email, and be sure to close the door behind you. For your ergonomic needs, you can feel confident PTI Office Furniture will match you with the proper furniture to ensure you are nominated as your company's next Employee of the Month!

PTI Office Furniture of Bergen County provides tips that can maximize productivity while working from home this summer

The ability to work from home might seem like luxury to workers stuck in the 9-5 rut but the reality can be challenging.

Sure, the ability to use the hours taken up by the daily commute more productively and knocking over household chores in your lunch break are advantages to branching out on your own or asking the boss for a work-from-home day (or two) each week.

But the reality of feeling like you’re always “at work” and that burning temptation to quickly check a few more emails or just finish off that big project when you are technically off the clock are some of the downsides commonly cited by people working out of a home office.

“Working from home takes discipline and this comes from creating great work habits,” explains occupational therapist and author Angela Lockwood.

“People who work from home can be super productive and get tasks completed in a much shorter period of time if they minimize distractions and have a set work plan for the day.

“Turn off the TV, tidy your house before you start working so you are not distracted by home duties, and try to see your work time as work time.”

1: Finding the right spot

One of the keys to being productive at home is, of course, a functional and productive workspace.

“Having the office area separate from family and living spaces reduces the distractions available,” says architect Alex Roth of Roth Architecture.

“This is also true for the outlook of this space. Try to keep the viewpoints focused on work or the outdoors and away from anything which draws your attention to the everyday running of the home.”

Interior designer Christie Turvey from Neue Blvd says if you’re running a business from home or you’re spending long hours at your desk, the location and size of your office should be paramount in its design.

“There’s nothing worse than being cramped into a small area with no room to move,” she says.

“Design an office that you can easily move about in and have room to store all your items neatly.”

2: DECORATE FOR PRODUCTIVITY

Once you have determined the right spot for your home office, getting its design right will help you stay organized and get the job done.

“Position your desk in the center of the room so, when seated, you are open to all areas of your space and can see what is happening,” says Christie.

“Design your space so you are not cramped into the corner, or have no room for storing your files. A cluttered office is a cluttered mind.”

Go for calming, neutral colors and soft tones for the walls and furniture such as warm shades of white, muted greys, and restful greens and blues.

“Anything too bright and saturated will make it hard to concentrate,” says Jessica Bellef, head of styling at online retailer Temple & Webster.

“On the opposite end of the spectrum, stark cool whites will feel clinical and cold.

“Avoid using too much of one color, as it will leave you feeling off balanced and under-stimulated.”

Don’t forget good lighting (choose a desk lamp with an adjustable head to help you direct light to where you need it), a comfy and ergonomic desk chair and easily accessible power outlets.

Plants or a vase of flowers are a nice finishing touch and help add positive energy to your space.

Feng shui expert Karen Kertesz from Emerald Space says filing cabinets and stationery are best stored away if possible.

“Our personal office has a built-in wardrobe that fits the filing cabinets and printer inside as well as having storage shelves for stationery items, stock and files,” she explains.

3: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH STORAGE

Storage is key to a clean and organized office.

“If you don’t have access to filing drawers, color co-ordinate large folders, label clearly and display them neatly in a shelf or in a closed cupboard,” says Christie from Neue Blvd.

“Store your most used office items (pens, staplers, paperclips, scissors etc.) in the top drawer of your desk so they are easily accessible yet not cluttering your workspace.

“In and out drawers or trays are great for sorting out what is yet to be completed.

“You can also have another area for bills to be paid and items to be filed.”

Organizing your day is also important for staying on top of tasks and making sure you’re not tempted to work into the evening.

“Although you may not have the strict timelines of a traditional office environment, it’s still really important to have a guideline of what you need to achieve each week,” says organization coach Aerlie Wildy.

“Create theme days, or block out time for project work. It can be easy to spend a lot of time on projects at home, tweaking here and there but having a routine and a regular list of activities that need to be done each week can help rein in the time spent of projects.

“Working until midnight every night is just not sustainable.”

4: SWITCH OFF AND CLOSE THE DOOR

While it is ever-advancing technology such as the NBN, smart phones and remote access that allow more people to work from home, it is also the very thing that makes it very tempting for home workers to keep going beyond their set hours.

It is important to have a physical barrier between your work space and the rest of your house — so a separate room or partition is essential to your set-up.

“If you can see your computer or email notifications then you are not able to truly leave your work mindset — it is important to be able to consciously disconnect yourself from your workspace,” says Angela.

“Create set work hours and stick to them, clearly defining office and family/home time.”

Angela, whose latest book Switch Off — How To Find Calm In A Noisy World is on sale now, says many people find it difficult to know when it’s time to take a break.

“Being contactable 24/7 through our devices, having an overwhelming list of tasks to do and being faced with a plethora of choices and possibilities we often feel like we are running just to keep up,” she says.

5: FUTURE-PROOF YOUR HOME

As technology advances, many employers are offering more flexibility when it comes to working from home.

Property developers are catching on and designing homes and apartment complexes specifically with home workers in mind.

Mirvac’s Cargo Home project, which is currently under construction in Melbourne’s trendy Yarra’s Edge precinct, incorporates a dedicated ground-floor office space designed to help workers and business owners keep their personal and business lives separate.

“Telecommuting is fast on the rise and we’re seeing more and more people abandoning the workplace in favor of working from home,” explains Mirvac’s Elysa Anderson.

“We recognized a gap in the market, with few new homes containing deliberately designed office spaces.”

While these homes are only available south of the border 
at the moment, it’s expected there will be similar developments in other parts of Australia should the Melbourne development prove popular.

In Sydney’s north, Mirvac’s St Leonards Square project has an Executive Lifestyle Club for residents, which has meeting and functions rooms for those who work from home.


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