The U.S. real estate market is beginning to show signs of a “great reshuffling,” as people relocate to homes with more privacy and space to ease working from home. I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out for you because we are all living it; spending an average of nine hours or more per day at home.
According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now works from home full-time. Zoom meetings are changing the way families think about space and privacy. For those who never imagined they’d be among the “tele-workforce”, the learning curve has been steep. We are being forced to adapt – and many may never go back to the good ole’ office days.
Home office spaces are top of mind for real estate shoppers today! – But if you are not quite ready for a move, here are several ideas to help you create the best home office space allowing you to be as productive and happy as possible.
A long term trend.
Companies like Ford, Adobe, and Amazon are considering switching a fraction of their workforce to remote work permanently. Some estimates even report that 20-30% of the workforce will be permanently remote multiple days a week by the end of 2021. Interestingly enough, even before the pandemic, Real Estate agents were reporting increasing interest in home offices, a trend that had previously been decreasing since the 1990s.
Now, with the future of COVID-19 spread and prevention still up in the air, even those who anticipate going back to the office at some point in the near future are seeing the benefits of a home office space.
Is Working From Home More Or Less Productive Than Working At The Office?
The debate surrounding the productivity of telework has been raging amongst CEOs long before it was forced on most people by the Pandemic. Our younger generations, who may be more in tune with work-life balance, are known to like flexible workspaces and have been rewriting the rules of the workplace.
Additionally, swiftly evolving technology is making the ability to work from home a reality for more people every year. Some studies support the theory that teleworkers are more productive than their office counterparts, while companies like Yahoo once notably switched their employees to remote work and then back again, citing lower productivity as a key reason.
So maybe the real question is not If one is more productive than the other but how can we adapt to be productive in both environments? These past few months we’ve been trying to answer this question for ourselves. Currently, we are continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future, and are still working through creating tenable home offices, routines, and habits that maximize our daily productivity.
So we’ve combined what we are learning in our own lives and business with some research to create this how-to on creating a comfortable and productive home office.
Preparing The Physical Workspace
Define your workspace
Pick a location in your home that is conducive to productivity. Is your home office a place where you can lock out distractions and interruptions? Designating a spot as the official location may take more than simply appointing it as such. You’ll need to truly transform it into a place that can withstand interruptions. Create a space for yourself where you are not tempted by distraction.
As nice as it sounds to stay curled up in bed working from our computers or sitting at the kitchen table with snacks at our sides, these spaces are not likely to be tenable long term work stations.
There are ample distractions in open spaces within our homes, especially for those with pets, kids, and other family members running around. If possible, work in an enclosed private space in the home, or at the very least make a space within a room that is a designated work zone.
Outfit The Space With Everything You Need For The Day
If possible, keep all your necessary office equipment near your workspace. You may enjoy the walk to the office printer, but at home, there are land mines of distractions between you and the scanner that you keep on the other side of the house.
Printers, the wifi-router (the closer the router the faster your internet connection will be), a water bottle, chargers, and even the items you’ll use to take your small “brain breaks” are important to have on hand throughout the day. Having these items close at hand will make your day more efficient with less frustration and distractions.
You may benefit from a dual monitor system. You can get a good 30” monitor for a couple of hundred dollars and according to a John Peddie Research Study, two monitors may increase your productivity by 20-30%.
Make The Space Comfortable And Relaxing.
Soothing colors, light music, and pleasing scents all play a part in the comfort of our workspace. In fact one of the big bonuses of the home office is you get to choose the “vibe” and aesthetic that is the most effective for you! Gone are the sterile white fluorescent lights of the office scene. Gone are the thermostat wars that somehow leave you freezing in the middle of summer and roasting mid-winter.
Create a workspace that you don’t dread spending a whole workday in. It may take an investment of time and a little money, but it will be well worth it in the end when you and your home office work together like a well-oiled machine!
Keep it simple, clean, and bring in some green! A Norwegian study found that bringing plants into the workspace or choosing a workspace overlooking a green area increases attention span. While it is not entirely understood why this is, it is thought that nature provides a “quick but not immersive” distraction that helps your brain take small breaks without sending you way off track.
Declutter!… And Do It Often!
At the office, it may be simple to keep your desk cleared of papers and your calendar on hand but at home you have an entire house full of clutter that can distract and cause frustration throughout the day. Make sure whatever room your office is in is clean before the start of your day.
There is a place for everything and everything has its place. This mantra is what we use to create mindfulness throughout the day as we get things out and put them away again. If you know where each thing “lives”, make a systematic effort to always put it back in that place when you are done using it. If something doesn’t have a place, consider whether it is really something you need at all!
Preparing Your Mental Workspace
Keller Williams CEO, Gary Keller, wrote a whole book entitled “The One Thing” which teaches businessmen and women how to structure their lives and accomplish both personal and professional goals without forfeiting time with family and friends.
Keller says that the idea of ‘balance’ is a lie. There is no such thing as multitasking. We can only truly do “one thing” at a time. By focusing on “the one thing” we accomplish tasks more efficiently, and more time opens up for us to fill with activities we’d like to be doing more than working! Write your to-do list for the day from the first/most important thing you have to do and so on. Then, time block and focus on one thing at a time!
This is easier said than done but through the habit-forming process: (reminder, routine, reward) your brain builds habits over time that eventually become second nature. This process is like working out for your brain, but if you stick with it, much like a strong gym routine, you’ll thank yourself later!
Think of transitioning to at-home work as starting a whole new workout routine, and don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t go great the first few times around. Like everything, switching up your entire work routine takes practice and persistence!
Create A Daily Routine By Time Blocking Your Day
For most of us, the benefits of working from home are flexibility; ditching the 9-5, the commute, and day in day out sameness of the conventional workspace. However, part of the reason 9-5 works is because it keeps us on task. If you feel you have “all day” to complete your work, you may find yourself wondering how 9:00 AM turned into noon so quickly!
One of our core values is “We Create Structure To Have Freedom”. When we accomplish a structured, productive workday; whether it is 5 hours, 8, or 10 it allows us the freedom and flexibility to define the rest of our day and to take time for the non-work priorities in our life. Without the structure, we find ourselves drowning amidst the chaos of lost time and procrastinated unfinished projects. There is a big difference between chaos and freedom!
Try the Pomodoro Technique – time block work on a 50-10 or 25-5 schedule. Meaning 50-minutes of focused work, then a 10-minute break or 25-minutes of focused work with a 5-minute break. Set a timer as a focusing tool to stay on task. If you can make it through an episode of Lost (about 43 minutes), you can focus on one work priority that long too!
At the end of the day, the learning curve of building new habits and having self-accountability during the workday is a battle we are all facing during these unprecedented times. You will have good days and bad as your brain adjusts to new routines… and that is okay! What is important is that you keep forging forward on the path toward productivity and that will lead to both business and personal success!
For more tips on how to re-imagine spaces within your home to fit an ever-evolving lifestyle, or for real estate advice of any kind, Contact us!