Working remotely (i.e. working from home) has been gradually becoming more common. In recent weeks, global health concerns have rapidly accelerated this shift, and many people who have never worked from home before will be doing so for weeks or perhaps months to come. Some companies may even decide to continue to offer remote-work opportunities if they find that employees are just as productive working from home.
For many workers, this may not necessarily be an easy transition. As a telecommuter, you must consider a number of factors to make your workspace comfortable and efficient.
In this article, I’d like to share some tips based on my 25 years of working at home. I’ll cover how you can organize a space to work, how you can enhance your environment, and how you can pace yourself.
In recent months, I realized that my workspace was too cluttered. Working at home, I have a great deal of flexibility, but it’s also easy to just pile things up, since they don’t bother anyone but me.
But the capharnaum that was my office started becoming a distraction. I realized that I would see the many items on my desk out of the corners of my eyes, and that many of them stood as reminders of things I had to do, papers to sort, tasks to complete.
So I set out to achieve desktop zero, or to remove as much as possible from my desk. While full desktop zero, other than my iMac, keyboard, and trackpad, is not possible, I’ve gotten about as close as I can come. I’ve done this by off-loading a number of items that were on my desk to other locations in my office (cabinets with doors), or to a new set of shelves I bought (more on them in a future article). As such, my desktop now looks like this:
As you can see, it’s not entirely devoid of items. There are two speakers (which I’m hoping to replace with smaller, less ugly speakers, in the near future), a desk lamp, and a small écritoire, or writing desk, which holds a lot of the tiny objects I need to use during the day. At the right, you can see my microphone boom which is attached to the desk, and behind the writing desk, a pen holder and pencil holder. Finally, there’s a small bamboo box which holds remotes, AirPods, and a few other tiny objects.
What is not visible from this photo is a long, low cabinet to the right, on which I have my amplifier and CD player, printer and scanner, and a number of gadgets. But the angle of this cabinet (about 45 degrees leading from the near right corner of the desk) is such that I don’t see it when I work.
This change to my desktop is part of a broader program to minimalize my office. I sold a large amplifier and bought a Sonos Amp; I changed the position of a number of items; and I removed some furniture, notably a tall dark bookcase that made one section of my office uninviting.
In an ideal world, my office would have little more than my computer, some audio equipment, and a handful of everyday items. I would love to have a second room, near my office, where I could put everything else. Alas, that is not the case, but my new desktop has made my work a bit less stressful. If you can achieve desktop zero or approach it, you may find the same thing.
With today’s technologies, it’s possible to build a company without all your employees needing to work in the same location. You can set up offices in different cities, and workers can communicate quickly and efficiently via Slack, Skype, and other technologies. Yet you can also have many of your employees work from home, and you may be surprised at how this can be more productive.
In a 2017 report by Fundera, they found that 3.7 million employees in the United States worked from home at least half the time; that’s 2.8% of the workforce. And these numbers are on the rise: this more than doubled since 2005.
Many people in business think that if employees work at home they’ll goldbrick: they’ll sit around and binge-watch Netflix, they’ll drink beer, and they won’t get any work done. However, businesses that have made the switch and allow working from home have found that remote employees are more productive.
Here’s why it’s productive to let employees work from home.