Home Office Hacks

Taking regular breaks, staying connected and setting boundaries are just some of the simple things you can do to make working from home work

Set up a dedicated workspace

Ideally you will want to keep your workspace separate from your living space, which means try and avoid the kitchen bench or the dining room table. This is important for two reasons – you’re less likely to get interrupted by daily family goings-on if you’re positioned away from the main living area of your home, and on the flip side you’re also more likely to log off. It can be tempting to keep checking those emails if your laptop is in the lounge room! Jill Newby, Associate Professor at UNSW (based at the Black Dog Institute), says that studies show working from home can also interfere with sleep, so avoid working in your bedroom if possible. 

Declutter

A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind, so keeping your office neat and tidy will pay dividends with productivity. Sarah Shanahan, professional organiser and founder of Shop with Sarah, which offers VIP shopping tours in and around Adelaide, says, “cluttered spaces can affect our anxiety levels, our sleep patterns and our ability to focus on the task at hand, triggering avoidance strategies and making work productivity low. A cluttered work space can make it virtually impossible to focus on the task at hand”.

Her top tips? “Have a vision! If you can visualise the space you want, you are more likely to achieve it. Start small, declutter the desk top or drawer, keeping only the essentials and finding a home for everything. Good storage is key. A small achievable task will leave you feeling more positive to continue the declutter journey.”

Take breaks

Psychological segues are key so make sure you schedule in a coffee break or a walk around the block. Professor Newby says we should be trying to get outside at least once a day. “If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway, or go out onto your balcony and enjoy fresh air.”

Stay connected

Zoom, Skype, Google Duo – there is a long list of communication apps that can help to keep you in the loop while you’re out of the office. In these unprecedented times these daily chats will not only help productivity but can also help mental wellbeing. Feeling isolated or disconnected, either socially or professionally, can have an affect on our mental health, to counter this professor Newby says we need to be proactive. “Everyday encounters with colleagues don’t spontaneously happen when we’re working from home, [so] we need to be proactive in organising meetings and social connection to maintain positive relationships. Staying connected with others will help to reduce stress levels, help you feel less isolated and stay productive. It also helps you communicate with your manager or employees to keep them informed of what you’re working on.”

Go green

According to research, a bit of greenery makes us happier and more productive, so indoor plants are a great addition to any home office space. Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology says, “our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in quality of life and productivity.” The research showed plants significantly increased workplace satisfaction and self-reported levels of concentration.