Ask any remote worker – be it a freelancer, an online entrepreneur, or a home-based employee – about the best perk of their job and most of them will probably tell you that it’s the privilege of being able to work anywhere.
Not having to go to a particular office in order to complete tasks is truly a blessing, especially amidst the never-ending heavy traffic and transportation problems in many cities in the Philippines.
And so it’s no surprise that now, more than ever before, Filipinos are suddenly turning a room or at least a corner of their house into a work space. Though having a home office or a library is not a new concept in the West, most Pinoys have never appreciated the benefits of having one until the popularity of online jobs and e-commerce entrepreneurship.
One can get overly excited and go crazy over building and decorating a private work space. And more often than not, it’s easy to focus more on personalizing a home office rather than considering its essential function – improving efficiency at work.
Here are the basic do’s and don’ts in designing (or redesigning) your home work space to spark optimum creativity and productivity.
Do decide to allot a spot in your home you can solely use for working. Though there are no rules against working in different parts of your home, having a spot that you can solely and regularly use for work have its advantages. For one, just being in your designated work space prepares you psychologically to focus and be on work-mode – something that’s not always easy to do when you’re at home. Being in your work zone also creates a boundary – it sends a signal to people in your household not to disturb you because you’re doing something serious.
Don’t use a bed and a breakfast tray as your permanent home work space. We’ve all had lazy days when getting up from bed just seems to be too much work. It’s not a sin to type away in the comforts of your duvet and propped up pillows every once in a while, but don’t make it a regular habit. There’s a reason why there are desks and not beds in corporate offices – sitting down stimulates one to work and finish tasks without dozing off every so often.
Do make your home office your own. Corporate employees can personalize their work space at a certain limit – they can put decorations or pin photos, but they’re certainly not allowed to change the wall paper of the room or repaint their desk. Having your very own home office means being able to choose your own chair, table and lighting. Let your home office become a reflection of your personality, but be sure that everything is still ergonomic. That said—
Don’t put too many distractions on your work desk. Online distractions already require a high EQ to deal. You can personalize your work space but don’t make concentration any harder for yourself by lacing your work desk with more distractions – new and unread comics or magazines, shopping brochures or even a makeup kit. The decorations in your work space must inspire, not distract.
Do consider greenery when designing your home office. According to a research by Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, greenery makes workers happier and more productive. Placing your desk right in front of a window that looks out to a garden or a lanai is a great idea. Alternatively, you can place indoor plants around your work space for some fresh nature inspiration.
Don’t place your work desk towards the direction of a television. When there’s a television near the work space, it is most remote worker’s tendency to turn it on for background sound since working alone can get too quiet. However, all it takes is a good movie or a fantastic series marathon to get you to focus more on the tube rather than your tasks.
Do have a space that serves as a professional background for work video calls. Online video calls are inevitable for remote workers, especially for freelancers, online tutors and virtual assistants. Having the kitchen as a background during a video call while your mom chops ingredients for dinner does not exactly spell professionalism. Whether you’re doing the video call for an interview or a regular meeting, be sure to have a clean background that will not distract the person on the other end of the line.
Don’t be afraid to leave your home office to go out to work every once in a while. Having a regular place to work in at home is invaluable to any freelancer or entrepreneur, but you shouldn’t restrain yourself to your home office every single day. It’s never a bad idea to work for an hour or two at a local coffee shop or a nearby co-working space (for mobile office laptop sleeves that offer privacy when working outside, click here). By doing this, you are breaking the monotony of working at home – being home-based doesn’t mean being a hermit!