8 Tips for a Productive Home Office

Tenfold’s guide to staying productive in a remote working environment…

At Tenfold, we’re proud to say that we’re a remote agency and all enjoy the freedoms that this brings and the creativity it inspires in us.

I’ve been working from home for about 6 months now, and I love it. It allows you to work in an environment that is specifically tailored to you and your work style. Do you hate noise? Then enjoy the total silence of your own space. Do you love music? Enjoy playing your favourite songs as loud as you want, and dance in your breaks!

If you have children or pets, it’s an opportunity to be around them more. You can be home for the mornings and the school run, the energy you would have spent on your commute can instead be used to play and engage with your kids as they grow up. You can even give your pet the title of ‘office dog,’ as they potter around your legs enjoying their new position. Feeling stressed? There’s a bundle of fluff right in the room with you!

Despite all of these benefits, the home office life does pose some challenges to productivity. In particular, figuring out a healthy work/life balance and organising your time when you’re in charge of it.

To overcome these challenges, I’ve compiled 8 tips to help those who work from home make the most of their environment…

1. Get Dressed

Many people dream of working from home, for the freedom and the quiet space to work. They would be lying if their daydreams didn’t also include making calls in their pyjamas.

However, it takes a lot of self-discipline to transform a space you use for relaxation into a productive working environment. Pyjamas are your ‘relaxation-mode’ uniform, and it can be difficult to switch to ‘work-mode’ in a dressing gown.

Getting dressed (properly) is a key way to trick your mind into ‘work-mode.’ (It also gives you a truthful defence when you’re berated by office-dwellers who think that all remote workers live in their underwear).

*Bonus tip: find an outfit you like and swap your slippers for some fluffy socks. This can be your cosy compromise!

2. Make Your Desk Your Own

Now, personally this is my favourite tip. If you’ve ever worked in an office where there are strict rules on desk decoration, one of the great benefits of remote working is being able to transform your work space.

Firstly, try to create some kind of separation between your working space and your home space, so that work-life doesn’t creep into home-life too much, and vice versa. Whether it’s a separate room or just a dedicated area, having some separation will help you to switch off at the end of the day.

Then, in your free-time, print off pictures that motivate you or a ‘quote of the day.’ Get your kids to draw things for you to stick above your laptop – just have fun with it!

Transform your home office into an inspiring, productive and happy place to work.

*Bonus tip: get some desk toys or a zen garden, something for your hands to do when you’re stressed or struggling with a task.

3. Get Organised

Organisation is one of the most important things for people working remotely.

Find what type of organisation works for you, whether it’s a pen and paper ‘to do list’ or an online tool with built-in reminders. Remote work means you have to hold yourself accountable and prioritise your tasks throughout the day. Using a tool will help to keep you on top of everything.

Personally, I use a collection of virtual sticky-notes on my laptop to keep myself in-check. I refer to them throughout my day and keep them updated constantly. Other people in my team recommend to-do apps like Wunderlist, task management tools like MeisterTask, and one person has even been known to use a good old fashioned whiteboard on the wall.

*Bonus tip: spread out your weekly tasks on a day by day basis – high priority at the beginning of the week and low priority at the end. That way, you make sure that at the very least you get the high priority stuff done early.

4. Create a Routine

Structure is necessary for a productive home office.

Plan when you need to be up, when you want to take your lunch, and when you want to exercise. Do you need to be on a call at 9:00am? Ensure you have time to work out (if you want to), have breakfast and prepare for the call. When you’re at home all day, the day can seem long and overwhelming, but by breaking it down into manageable chunks you will boost your overall productivity.

*Bonus tip: get a day planner to organise your day-to-day better.

5. Take Breaks

Its been proven that breaks boost productivity. According to an experiment carried out by the social networking company Draugiem Group, employees with the highest productivity took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work. So, set aside time for breaks when you know you can take a moment to refocus your mind or get a much-needed, mid-morning snack.

*Bonus tip: stock up on snacking-favourites for an incentive to make it through the work to get to the break!

6. Make Realistic Deadlines… and Stick to Them

None of us are superhuman. Be realistic in your deadline-making. 

If you are already attending five online meetings in one day, you aren’t going to be able to finish a two-hour technical presentation as well. Be kind to yourself, and be realistic about how much time you have to deliver. You’ll be happier, and your co-workers will appreciate the fact that you set realistic goals. Your work demands the time and care to make it truly remarkable and a reflection of your ability.

*Bonus tip: most online organisation tools allow you to add deadlines to your tasks. Use this feature to keep tasks timely.

7. Communicate

If being isolated is making you unhappy, your work will suffer.

When you work from home, the first month or so is amazing. You can’t imagine ever having worked in a different environment. However, most of us remote workers will at some point come into contact with the ‘home office blues.’

Take the time to talk to people, whether that is to your team or a friend during a break if you work freelance. Creativity comes when you are happy and connected to the world. Also, from an organisation perspective, communication is also crucial to stay on task, especially if you are working within a team remotely.

*Bonus tip: communication tools like Slack (which we use at Tenfold) are great for communicating within a remote team.

8. Go Outside!

This is one of the most important tips I can share with you as someone who works from home. Get fresh air every day.

It can be easy to fall into the hermit lifestyle when you’ve spent so much time making your home office so comfortable. However, when you stay inside, you dull your sense of what is actually going on outside of that room, or table.

As a writer, it’s important that I actually experience the things that I write about, not just read them on my screen. This tip isn’t just specific to writers though – according to a study from the Harvard Business Review, stale air actually reduces productivity.

*Bonus tip: Explore new routes so your walk doesn’t become boring. If you have a dog, they’ll be excited to go on a new adventure!

Conclusion

There are so many benefits to working remotely that we experience every day at Tenfold. For us, it has boosted our creativity, our productivity, and our happiness as a company. I hope you can take some of that happiness from this blog. I hope it inspires you to create an environment that provides you with all the tools you need to succeed and thrive in whatever you set your mind to.

Are you a marketer who dreams of working remotely? We’re always looking for great people to join our growing team. Get in touch!

Do you ever work from home? What are your tips? Leave a comment below.