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      • Published 17 Jan 2023
      • Last Modified 29 Aug 2023
    • 11 min

    8 Tips for the Perfect Home Office Setup

    Optimise your home office setup and discover top working from home tips in our handy guide.

    Working from home and commuting no further than your home office has long been a dream of many employees, yet working from home was little more than a luxury to most people until recently. Now, however, the freedom of working in a familiar, comfortable environment and perhaps enjoying more flexible working hours has become a necessity for thousands of office-based staff across the UK.

    However, working from home isn’t always as simple as it may seem and the reality of maintaining a focused, productive attitude towards work can be even more challenging without an optimal home office setup. Whether your router is struggling to cope with the whole family using the Wi-Fi at once or your workspace is more chaos than calm, many potential distractions and disruptions are facing those working from home.

    We have collected some top working from home tips and home office setup ideas to help you overcome the hurdles and make working from home better than ever before.

    1. Separate Your Office from Your Home

    One of the most important rules when setting up a home office is to keep your workspace and your living areas as separate as possible. There are several reasons for this but maintaining a clear distinction between the two spaces is certainly highly advantageous. Even if you are restricted in terms of available space, there are plenty of innovative small home office ideas to help you maximise the space that you do have without compromising your usual day-to-day living areas.

    It’s not just the visual differences that are important, though, as other spatial aspects should also be taken into consideration to achieve the best results. Everyone has their own preferred working environment, so it’s important to optimise your home office to suit your personal preferences as much as possible.

    For instance, if you find yourself struggling with the silence away from the office, plug in your PC speakers and try listening to the radio while you work. Alternatively, you could simulate the usual office environment with some carefully-chosen background noise. There are plenty of audio clips available featuring everything from keyboard sounds to soft background chatter, so if you are struggling to adapt to working from home, this could be a great solution to get you back on track.

    2. Make Sure Your Home Office is Fully Equipped

    Once you’ve organised your home office or workspace, the next step is to ensure that you have all the equipment and technology you need to complete your daily tasks. This can include everything from a comfortable, ergonomic desk chair to plenty of stationery ready to hand and will, of course, also depend on your particular role. That being said, there are certain common elements shared by modern home offices across the country which should not be overlooked.

    One of the biggest problems facing those working from home is a slow internet connection. Even if you don’t have family members constantly streaming boxsets or playing online video games, Wi-Fi-enabled devices are more common than ever before and with the whole household at home, the number of devices all vying for bandwidth can soon add up.

    Make sure to prioritise your work PC or laptop’s access to the WLAN network. You can do this in the settings of your router. This should help to protect against issues accessing conference calls or your company’s VPN by preventing your PC from being slowed down by other devices. If the signal strength is still too weak, a Wi-Fi antenna or range extender may be able to help.

    3. Maximise Technology to Boost Productivity

    Your router and Wi-Fi connection are far from the only technology you should consider in your home office, as modern technology can play a significant role in boosting levels of productivity.

    Depending on your current home office setup, you may find it beneficial to invest in additional devices and items to get your workspace up to scratch. For instance, many people struggle to work from just a small laptop screen, so investing in a second monitor for your setup could prove highly useful. Don’t forget the right cables and connectors, either, as the last thing you want is to be left unable to connect your devices!

    Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a second monitor, the virtual desktops feature offered by both Windows 10 and macOS may well come in handy. The combination of the Windows key and tab will show you the ‘active applications’ view, from which you can add further workspaces. To access the feature on Mac, simply swipe with three fingers on the trackpad or surface of the Magic Mouse to easily switch between the different views.

    4. You May Be at Home, But You’re Still at Work!

    Even though you are not physically going into the office to work, it’s important to remind yourself that you are still working and should, therefore, remain professional where possible. While this doesn’t necessarily mean donning a suit and tie for your next video call, it does mean being aware of your surroundings and trying your best to remain a degree of professionalism.

    There have been many studies over the years focusing on the psychological impact of wearing office-appropriate clothing, so if you are struggling to get into the right mindset, a change of clothes might just help you out. Even something as simple as opting for a smarter shirt could subtly influence your mentality and your posture while helping to maintain a regular daily rhythm if you then change back to more casual clothing at the end of your working day.

    Minimising distractions is also important. Without your colleagues physically by your side, it can be all too easy to find yourself tempted by the endless distractions that being at home could offer. However, staying focused will help you to maintain levels of productivity and avoid temptation!

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    5. Strike the Right Balance

    If you are lucky enough not to find yourself easily distracted while working from home, you may run the risk of falling into another common trap – losing your work/life balance. Finding the right balance between the two can be tricky at the best of times, but when you are working from home, it is even more challenging.

    Once your working day is done and you’ve wrapped up your calls, emails, and tasks, switch off your PC and give yourself time to relax and unwind. Where possible, try to avoid working late into the evening – this includes checking emails! – and treat your home office just like your normal office. Once you’ve left for the day, you’re off the clock and free to delve into your home life. This should help to separate your work life and your private life and protect against excess stress or burnout.

    It’s also important to allow yourself time for a proper lunch break and other short breaks throughout the day. Sitting at your desk all day will most likely leave you sore, restless, and struggling to focus, so don’t feel guilty about getting up to make a drink, stretch your legs, or chat to your family occasionally. After all, striking the right balance is one of the keys to working from home successfully.

    6. Become a Video Conferencing Champion

    With so many employees unable to conduct face-to-face meetings currently, video conferencing has become the new go-to method for keeping in touch with colleagues. As previously mentioned, it’s essential to ensure that your home office hardware and equipment can handle your video conference calls, but what many people forget is that the minute you turn your webcam on, you are giving your colleagues a window straight into your home.

    If you aren’t feeling particularly photogenic, try the following tricks to help you appear more professional and confident in front of the camera.

    Firstly, try to position the webcam approximately at eye-level as this will make the angle more natural. If your monitor is not height-adjustable, you may find that a monitor or laptop stand helps to keep the webcam at eye-level while improving the ergonomics of your home office desk. In order to make eye contact with others on the call from time to time, it can help to give yourself a fixed point behind the webcam. Simply draw a point on a sticky note and attach it to the wall behind the webcam to help you get used to focusing on the right area.

    If you want to retain the privacy of your home or are finding that colleagues are being distracted by your surroundings, you may also benefit from adding a fixed background to your video call. There are plenty of options available, depending on the software you are using, so finding a suitable alternative should be relatively simple. Skype and Microsoft Teams also offer the ‘blur background’ feature which is another good substitute.

    7. Consider Your Wellbeing and Mental Health

    Transitioning from working in a busy office, surrounded by colleagues, to working alone in your home office is understandably a big change. Although you may not be physically working alongside your colleagues, you should still make time to regularly check in with them – even if it’s just for a quick chat. This simple action can go a long way towards improving communication within the team whilst also providing a much-needed boost of social interaction to those who may be feeling a little isolated working from home.

    In addition to striking the right balance between work life and home life, it is also essential to consider your mental health and wellbeing at work. If you find yourself struggling to focus, get up and give yourself a change of scenery for a few minutes. Take a wander around the house or garden, focus on something else, and come back with a clear head and a renewed sense of purpose.

    One of the biggest benefits of having a home office is the opportunity you have to personalise it and make the space work for you. If you find that bright colours help to spark your creativity, surround yourself with colourful accessories and bold prints. If you are at your most productive with no noise and no distractions, leave your phone outside the home office and perhaps consider investing in some soundproofing if you will be using the space long-term. Essentially, opt for whatever works best for you.

    8. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Right Lighting

    Working in a well-lit office can make you more productive, so it’s important to make sure that your home office has the right lighting in place. The link between good lighting and enhanced productivity has been demonstrated in various studies and should therefore not be underestimated.

    You may be surprised to learn just how many different variations of so-called ‘white light’ is available, particularly in fluorescent tube lights, for example. However, from LED tube lights to energy-saving lamps, a neutral white colour tone is usually recommended as this closely resembles natural daylight. If you still find that you are working in your own shadow or there is not much daylight in your home office, you may benefit from additional lighting such as desk lamps. This will guarantee a well-lit workspace throughout the day and may also help to reduce eye strain.

    For help choosing the right lighting for your home office, you can read our fluorescent tube lights guide and our LED tube lights guide.

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