With more and more of us working from home, having a designated workspace to foster productivity has become important. We got in touch with Oliver Baxter, Insight Programme Manager MEA at Herman Miller - an American company that produces office furniture, equipment and home furnishings to share his insights on how to make the most of your work from home arrangement, whether it is through changing your environment or through a more cognitive approach.
"Getting rid of clutter cuts down on the number of cues that need to be sorted. Digital clutter also affects mental load, so you can reduce your mental load by doing digital housekeeping regularly, such as clearing your cache or organizing your desktop. Also, there is a difference between clutter and personalization. Having a few photos or mementos around you actually decreases stress." says Baxter.
Add plenty of light
A well-lit space not only improves your chances of getting your daily requirement of Vitamin D, but it also helps you reset your body clock and focus on the tasks ahead of you.
It would be ideal to work in a quiet corner of your house, with no distractions. "Noise is another cue that a person has to sort through. It’s also a distraction because it divides your attention or causes a shift in where your attention is placed. Be sure you are working in a designated space that allows you to focus on the task at hand." advises Baxter.
"Create multiple working zones for different degrees of mental load. Quickly responding to a short email can be done with higher degrees of stimulation compared to writing a report which might require less distraction and interruptions by the other members of the household. One way to handle this is to designate time in your day for specific tasks such as emails, conference calls, research, etc., depending on the mental load they require." says Baxter.
How to address your fundamental needs
According to Herman Miller, the six main needs for those in the workplace include creating a sense of achievement, autonomy, a sense of belonging, purpose, safety, and status. How do you provide yourself with these needs?
The best way to create a sense of achievement is to record your & your team's accomplishments. This can be done by setting out your goals and assigning tasks. Some of the best ways to assign tasks include using programs like Slack, Asana & Trello that will allow you to keep track.
Having a sense of autonomy involves the realisation that you're independent enough to perform certain tasks by yourself with a degree of freedom & trust, whether it's given by your boss or even realising this as an entrepreneur. It's important to give and receive advice, so make sure you are regularly in touch with key employees in your organisation.
Sense of belonging
Working from home can be quite lonely and isolating, so making sure you're staying in touch through regular phone calls, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts/Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype for business will help ensure that you are in touch with colleagues and friends. Use this opportunity to stay technologically forward and treat it as a learning process. Create some downtime off for yourself as well as carve out time to enjoy your home. Use the kitchen to whip up a nice meal, enjoy your time in the garden or balcony on your time outs, meditate and stay active by creating a workout routine to enjoy at home.
Having a vision board for your hopes and dreams at home will help put things in perspective and remind yourself that this situation is only temporary and no matter the place, you are still looking forward to achieving your goals.
One of the essential elements to good productivity involves safety and security - not just of yourself and your family, but people around you. Remind yourself that you live in a community and make efforts to ensure everyone's safety. It's a temporary situation that will eventually pass. Meanwhile, make sure your finances are in place and make sure you spend wisely according to your needs and requirements. Please note hoarding is not the answer. While in terms of job safety, everyone seems to struggle, it's important to know that almost everyone is in a similar situation as you. So keep on doing that good work and trust that all will be well soon.
Status isn't just about your promotion, it's a question of getting valued and appreciated by your peers. Try to give both positive and negative feedback, and always take things in your stride.