Many businesses feel an office space provides employees with the structure needed to stay focused. But 65 percent of employees say they’d be more productive working from home than a traditional setting.
The reasons why can vary, including diverse employee backgrounds such as chronic illness sufferers, working parents, freelancers, introverts and more. While the reasons can vary, the bottom line is the same — they all believe they can accomplish more when working remotely.
To maximize employee productivity, employers need to listen to feedback from staff about the benefits of working outside the office.
The Benefits of a Home Office
Today’s job seekers are more concerned about work-life balance than ever, with working from home a flexible option which can be used to spend more time on other interests, such as family or education. Other benefits employees gain when working from home include fewer distractions, reduced stress from commuting and a separation from the drama of office politics.
But employees aren’t the only ones with something to gain. Businesses can also see major growth in productivity with a remote work policy.
Take Ctrip, for example, China’s largest travel agency. With over 16,000 employees, the company was interested in allowing employees to work from home, conserving office space and cutting down on hours-long commutes in Shanghai traffic. However, the CEO was concerned the move would tank productivity.
After two years of collecting data, the company realized the move was a smart one. The study found when employees are at home, they will work a full shift or longer before logging out for the day. Overall, remote workers took shorter breaks, had less sick days and didn’t take as much time off. As a bonus, the company was able to save thousands in rent, nearly $2,000 per remote worker.
One set-back the study revealed is remote workers can sometimes feel isolated when working from home. However, businesses can recommend employees use coworking spaces when necessary, allowing workers to pick and choose when they want to be around others.
Coworking spaces and office sharing businesses have grown nearly 200 percent in the last five years, with over 14,000 available locations worldwide. Large cities like Shanghai, New York and London offer spaces for remote workers looking to collaborate or just work in a new environment.
How to Create an Ideal Home Office
For those who working remotely, there are several things you can do to ensure your home office is maximizing productivity.
1. Personalize Your Space
The best way to feel comfortable and work hard is to bring in which make the space one you want to spend time in. Find a roomy desk and comfortable office chair. If you spend a lot of time reading or researching, consider investing in a comfortable armchair. Hang up art or decorations which speak to your style, such as favorite vacation photos or a collage of a favorite pet. Once you have a space you like, you’ll be able to put it to good use.
2. Declutter Your Desk
A desk swimming in papers, pens and more can easily set you back and significantly decrease productivity. Not to mention all the extra time spent searching for lost materials. To get started, remove everything from your desk and clean off the surface. Then, add back only the items needed to complete your work. Have an organization system in place, including trays, filing cabinets and sticky notes to ensure your desk stays decluttered throughout the day.
3. Use Separate Computers
If you plan to claim a home office deduction on your next tax return, you should already have a separate computer for home and work. Besides the tax benefits, having separate computers is also a good way to establish work-life balance. When you’re trying to relax, keep your work computer tucked away and turned off. When it’s time to work, you can use a designated work computer set up to be free of non-work distractions, such as games, bookmarked blogs and social media.
4. Add Some Plants
Plants are great to have in a home office because they can act as a visual distraction, something to look at when your eyes need a break from the screen or your brain needs a breather. Besides looking nice and cleaning the air, plants in the workplace have also been proven to sharpen focus, boost creativity and reduce stress. Fortunately, you don’t need a green thumb to reap the benefits of workspace plants. Just look for a resilient variety able to survive indoors, such as a cactus or succulent.
5. Keep Distractions Nearby
It may seem counter-intuitive to keep distractions in your home office, but having the occasional brain-break can actually keep you more focused long-term. This could be anything you consider a treat, such as a favorite book, musical instrument, gaming system or daily crossword. Keep it close by but out of sight, such as tucked away in a drawer or kept in a bin with a lid. You want the distraction to be easy to reach but not too close to cause constant temptation.
6. Play Some Music
If you have a to-do list as long as your arm, one way to focus is to set a prepared playlist of concentration music. Studies show personally selected music — i.e., not the playlist selected by management — can help workers regain concentration in just 15 to 30 minutes. Music without lyrics works best. Whether you create a playlist on your favorite streaming service or make a mix CD, you can easily boost productivity in your home office by utilizing the power of music.
Boost Productivity by Working from Home
The verdict is in — working from home can have a significant impact on employee productivity. Not only are workers free from distractions like office noises and chatty coworkers, but they can create a home environment more conducive for long-term focus and efficiency.
If you’re working from home or plan to do so in the future, follow the tips above for finding a space with all the elements for staying productive. From an organization system to a workday playlist, there’s plenty you can do to lock in your focus and have a productive work day at home.