9 Really Simple Ways To Boost Working From Home Productivity

Sarah Coley  |  February 2021

Working from home has the ability to make life that little bit easier and can quite often deliver that long-desired work/life balance we all crave.

But we also know that after ten months of being amidst a global pandemic, having to juggle work and home-schooling, and trying to find a comfortable way of lockdown life that works for us, the novelty of working from home is starting to wear off. If you’re struggling to feel motivated, getting distracted more easily, or find that you’re not quite as productive as perhaps you once were, check out the tips below.

We can say with honesty as a busy family, each of us working and schooling from home, that these little gems of wisdom have helped to keep us going through these lockdown low-downs.

Let your home be you mast and not your anchor.

1. Create a Dedicated Space

Having an area dedicated to working and/or schooling from home can vastly increase your focus and allows you to ‘leave work’ when you’re finished for the day.

Moving away from the couch and coffee table or the family dining table can instantly help you distance yourself from the distractions around the house when you’re working and from the stresses of work when you’re not.

Whether you repurpose a specific room or create a new setup in the corner of the living or dining room, a dedicated workspace means you won't have to tidy away your work stuff just to eat lunch or take a break, and you'll be ready to hit the ground running when you get back to it.

Having a separate area will also make it easier to be organised both physically and mentally, helping you to stay on top of the important tasks, both at work and at home.

Being able to get up and walk away from the work environment ensures that once you finish work, you can ‘leave work’ and fully unwind in your living spaces.

With Covid staying around for longer than we had first anticipated, working from home seems to be the new ‘normal’ for many of us and it appears unlikely to change anytime soon.

With this in mind, it’s worth creating your ‘office’ space so that it will work for you in the long-term. Whilst you may not have originally planned to be designing and constructing an office at home, setting up a work area doesn't mean having to sacrifice the style of your room.

2. Invest in a Desk

If your space allows it, we’d recommend investing in a desk. Slouching over a coffee table or leaning against the sideboard is not going to cut it and will ultimately cause you more grief than trying to follow Joe Wicks’ daily morning routines with a seven-year-old on your back.

Desks are ergonomically designed for sitting at for long periods of time, their height and other dimensions are specifically devised to make working more comfortable and reduce the risk of back and shoulder aches.

Your desk is the heart of your WFH setup and should be appropriate for your working needs.

For example, do you need just enough space for a laptop and a cup of tea, or do you need space for files and paperwork as well as a full PC setup? Think about how you use your space on a daily basis to make sure you are giving yourself enough room to work effectively.

Do you need drawers? How many? Whilst they are great for storage, we also know how great they are for hiding things in when we do a ‘quick tidy’ and for them to become the ‘safe place’ where all of our worldly possessions get devoured.

You only have to ask Tom about that one time with the elusive passport… Sometimes a one-drawer desk is all you need. Take it from me, it can save you a lot of time, and stress!

With a multitude of styles and functions, there is a desk to suit every home and office. To make your dedicated workspace feel like an integral part of your room and create a work environment that feels right, matching your desk into the rest of the room is important, especially if it is an existing space that is used for other purposes.

For a more traditional theme, check out our solid wood Corner Writing Desk, or if you fancy some funk, our Monochrome Print Writing Desk is simply stunning.

3. Storage

When you’re thinking about the tools and stationery you’re using, what sort of storage do you need? Is a desk tidy enough? Or are you currently turning the coffee table into a multipurpose filing cabinet?

Now that the office stationery cupboard is not available to hide all your sticky notes and, if you’re anything like us, your hoard of notebooks, you’re going to need to find somewhere to keep them out of reach of little poster-painted fingers.

From experience we can tell you that figuring out adequate storage is key to sharing your work and home space and for working efficiently.

What about some wall shelves or free-standing shelving units? Whilst you’re WFH these can be great for keeping important folders out of the way, and when things do eventually get back to normal, you can quickly transform the ‘office’ into a wonderful new family portrait gallery.

You can take a look at our shelving range here for some inspiration.

Or do you need something a little more substantial, a cabinet, console table or sideboard perhaps?

Our Nordic Style Sliding Cabinet with drawers is a smart and stylish addition to any WFH set up. You could get fruity with our Pineapple Carved Compact Sideboard or get rich quick with our Gold Art Pattern Console table. Alternatively, ‘go big or go home’ with our Byland Sideboard, here.

Not only will a sideboard or cabinet help you to establish your designated ‘office’ space, it will also provide you with the perfect home for your printer, standing on the top for ease of access, or hidden away so you can fully relax at ‘home-time’.

And don’t forget your ink! For great, cost-effective and comparable inks delivered straight to your door, we can highly recommend our friends over at INKredible.

4. Lighting

Correct lighting is vital for focus and wellbeing when WFH. If your desk is against a wall then the room’s main light will likely be behind you which could cause glare on your device screens, and also means you’re working in your own shadow.

Adding a table lamp or two or installing a new pendant overhead your workspace can make a huge difference, reducing eye stress, headaches, and tiredness.

Most home lighting is designed to be warm and comforting, even ambient. Whilst this is great for relaxing or eating, it’s not so great for working.

Adding additional lighting or brighter bulbs helps to make the light levels more comfortable for working, reading and using screens (be careful here not to create more glare, though). Multiple lamps are good as they can be moved and turned on/off as needed, adjusting for the differing light levels throughout the day/year.

Adjustable scissor lamps, like this one here, are great for reading at desks etc., or keep it bare with our Industrial Black Floor Lamp. If you’d prefer something a little more cheeky, our George and Ringo Monkey Lamps are just adorable and are sure to brighten up your home in every way.

It’s worth remembering that commercial offices have strict Health & Safety legislation surrounding light quality to help reduce eye strain and tiredness. Our lighting at home doesn't. Fluorescent kitchen lighting or warm/yellow ambient lighting can increase eye strain and significantly impact our ability to work productively and comfortably.

Consider switching to daylight bulbs and/or turning off fluorescent lighting and replacing with other lighting sources. Wilko’s have a great selection of Daylight bulbs to choose from, you can see them here.

If you like the techy side of life, why not try some smart bulbs. Many of these give the option to change the brightness and colour temperature from a phone or smart speaker, allowing a bright cool/daylight environment during the workday, then allow you to switch to a warmer, more ambient lighting when work is over.

5. Plants Plants Plants!

If you do only one thing off this list, add plants to your workspace.

Trust us. Plants have been proven again and again to increase both happiness and productivity in the workspace. Not only do they look good, by raising the oxygen levels in the air they actually have the power to make us feel good, too.

Plants are a quick, cheap and easy way to transform any space. Adding a trailing plant to a shelf or a couple of pot plants can lighten up even the dullest of environments.

Plants are also super responsive to human interaction - they love it when we gossip with them! If you’re working from home on your own, share your ideas and rant away with the plants – we promise that you’ll feel better instantly, and so will the plants!

They don't have to take up heaps of room, even one or two mini succulents sitting on your desk will work wonders for your mental health.

If you are based in the beautiful North East of England like us then we can highly recommend the team over at The Plant Workshop, they have oodles of beautiful house plants to calm your workspace and bring you zen.

For those of you elsewhere, head over to Hortology.co.uk.

If you’re not particularly green-fingered, don’t worry - artificial plants, flowers and greenery are a great alternative to create the natural feel in your ‘office.’ Have a leaf through our listings here to see what we’re talking about.

With the added benefit of being able to have varieties and species that wouldn't grow naturally in our climates, artificial plants really can transform your space and give you that Mediterranean or Moroccan edge without having to leave your home.

And the way things are going it may be a little while before we can get there in real life…

6. Take Breaks

I don’t mean a City Break. As mentioned above, it may be a while before we can get excited about those kinds of breaks.

But take regular, guilt-free, breaks from your workspace; put the kettle on and make a brew, drink some water, put some music on and have a dance in the kitchen, converse with the plants, or call a friend for a ten-minute chat.

Usually when we’re in the office there is constant conversation and human interaction, which we’re not party to when we work from home. Without this, our minds can fall into a state of constant stress, with only other aspects of work to distract us, and eventually our brain starts to burn out.

Alternatively, we become so complacent with the monotony of staring at a screen that we go into autopilot mode. This lack of concentration means you’re no longer working effectively and massively reduces your productivity.

Regular breaks and a change of scenery throughout the day will help to give you the recovery your brain needs to refocus on the job effectively and will help to maintain your mental health.

7. Reduce Noise

Being able to focus when working is crucial, noisy environments can distract you to the point of insanity and destroy productivity.

We appreciate just how difficult it is to reduce noise levels, particularly when we’re all going stir crazy in the house together, and there’s not much that can be done to completely remove noise, especially in a shared space or where kids are home-schooling. However, there are some ways to reduce its impact.

If the room is big enough, consider using furniture as a room divider to create a physical barrier for noise. This doesn’t have to be completely solid or enclosing, something like a privacy screen or open shelving units can create great dividers to reduce noise whilst still allowing a light and open space in which to work.

shelving can also provide the added bonus of storage, helping to keep you focused and organised.

One way to quickly reduce noise is to stop sound reflections bouncing around - soft furnishings are great for this. Curtains, rugs, cushions and even wall hangings all help to absorb sound and reduce the overall noise level.

Think about how loud and echoey your house was when you first walked in on moving day, before your furniture was brought in, and how much less noise travels now that you’ve got your couch and curtains in.

Plants, whether real or artificial, can be a big help here in reducing sound reflections - anything that breaks up the hard, flat surfaces of your room will stop sound bouncing around and reduce the ambient volume in your space.

If all else fails a good set of Bluetooth headphones works wonders! They have definitely been a lifesaver in the Barley household. With Tom and I both working from home attending multiple zoom meetings and taking numerous phone calls during the day, and with Harriet remote learning by video, it’s been the only way

8. Artwork

Another quick and easy way to transform a space is to add wall art. Whether you hang paintings, prints or photographs, having something inspiring to look at when working away helps keep the mind in a positive space.

It can also help to mark out your dedicated workspace and assist with noise reduction, too. Canvas art can be particularly beneficial in reducing ambient volume and echoes.

Why not take it one step further and have some positive quotes and words of inspiration printed and framed for around your workspace. That way, in those moments of frustration there's something to pull you back and remind you what we do it for!

Our Antique Silver Multi photo frame is ideal for perking up your space. Fill it with photos of your family or of quotes or pictures of the things that make you happy: a montage of motivation, if you like.

It’s amazing how just a glance at an inspirational musing can re-inject some motivation.

9. Walk to Work

Another great bit of advice for WFH is to walk to work.

Seriously. Take a walk around the block before you start working from home.

Getting up, dressed, and leaving your house for some fresh air will give you back some routine and put you into the mindset that you’re actually going to work so you’ll start the day refreshed and energised, and that little bit more motivated.

Of course, staying motivated when you’re working from home is difficult, even in the best of circumstances.

And we completely understand it’s even harder under the restrictions and worries imposed by Covid.

But you’re doing a great job getting through it and we hope that our hints and tips can help in creating a more comfortable work environment so that you can continue doing great things.

If you’ve implemented any of the above already, did you find they worked? What did you do and how has it helped?

Oh, and if there’s anything we’ve missed that you’d recommend for helping make life a little easier when WFH, we’d love to hear about it!

Do please let us know what changes you’ve made and how it’s improved your productivity and bettered your WFH experience – you never know, it might just help someone else find their motivation again. 😊

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