10 tips on how to make the home office a success

Santa Hartmane
July 25, 2022

How do I set up my home office so that I can work efficiently and in a structured manner? Many people who have never worked from home before are asking such questions. You can learn about what is important for the workplace within your own four walls here. How to communicate with colleagues despite distance, how to avoid distractions, and how to unwind after work.

  1. Set up a permanent workplace

If you don't have a study or a fully equipped office at home, you should find a quiet spot in your apartment or house to work. This could be for example a living room corner with a small desk. It is critical that the location be identifiable as a workplace and that work utensils can be stored there. Also pay attention to the right lighting conditions and a comfortable room temperature. Additionally, in order to prevent back pain, it is important to pay attention to how we sit at the table at home as well. Ideally it looks like this:

  • the thighs and lower legs as well as the upper and lower arms are at a 90-degree angle to each other
  • the palms and elbows are in the same level with the keyboard and mouse
  • the feet are firmly on the ground, possibly use a footstool
  • the eyes are at least 50 cm away from the monitor

  1. Create the technical requirements

Working from home is most successful when technology works smoothly and innovative web-based tools are used. Modern computer equipment with a good task management software, collaboration and chat tool, and a good VPN connection are essential in our opinion.

  1. Structure your day

Always begin your home office day at the same time each day, and plan your day, including breaks and closing time, before you begin working. Make a list of all the tasks that need to be completed. Task management tools provide excellent assistance. Nothing is lost if the daily to-dos and you bring fixed structures into the day.

  1. Set daily goals

Clear daily objectives aid in task organisation.  It is therefore very helpful to set goals if you want to structure your day in the home office well. Determine what you want to accomplish by the end of the working day and plan your tasks as ambitious as you would at the office. What do you want to achieve today? What can wait? Once you've determined your daily objectives, you can determine how much time you have or want to devote to each task. It is best to create a to-do list and arrange the tasks on it according to their urgency.  You can also make adjustments to your list at any time if you notice that something isn't working.

  1. Avoid distractions

We can't always retreat to a quiet corner in the home office, as we can in the office or meeting room. Distraction occurs quickly: the children rush through the room wanting to play, your partner requires information immediately, the neighbour drills holes in the wall, and the carpet still needs to be vacuumed. It's also easy to get stuck on social media. Distractions abound; only discipline can help. Keep an eye out for such time wasters. Plan specific times to use social media, for example. You can use headphones if you live with children, in a house with noisy neighbours, or on a busy street. It will be impossible to eliminate all disruptive factors, but some can be managed.

  1. Prepare yourself for your working day

The appropriate clothing for the occasion conveys a positive feeling. If no video meetings are scheduled for the day, you may find yourself working in your pyjamas or comfortable jogging pants. However, if you take the time to prepare at home as you would in everyday life, you will quickly adopt the usual routine and switch to business mode. After work, you can change out of your work clothes and into a cosy after-work outfit to effectively separate your working hours from your free time.

  1. Communicate transparently

Colleagues in the office can see when you arrive and are actively participating in what is going on. At home, however, this is not the case. It is best to notify others about your attendance and absence times so that everyone knows when you work. As in the office, it's best to actively greet and say goodbye, communicating the start and end of working hours, meetings and vacations via chat or employee calendar tools.

  1. Take (moving) breaks

In the office, we eat lunch together in the social areas, have coffee together in between, and some meet outside the door to smoke. In the home office, these social interactions fail. At the workplace at home, the working day quickly passes and you haven't taken a single break. Short breaks, on the other hand, are essential and should be included in every working day. Taking a break and clearing your mind is necessary for working in a concentrated manner for hours. Breaks should be planned in the same way that tasks should be completed. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and a walk around the block in between. Then you will undoubtedly return to work feeling more at ease.

  1. Maintain social ties

The value of social interaction cannot be overstated. In the Corona crisis, everything was different. Not only do we work from home, but all other social exchange activities, such as playing sports in a club or going out to eat with friends, were limited. It is worthwhile to reorganise our social environment in order to maintain contact with others. You can encourage social interaction in the home office by using digital small talk. You can meet for a virtual coffee break in the video chat room. A regular digital after-work meeting where employees exchange information about non work related topics should be held for this purpose.

  1. (Re)Treat yourself

End your home office day by treating yourself with something nice and grounding to help you transit back to your personal life. It could be a relaxing shower, walking your dog or yoga. Or it could be an energising workout or sip of coffee. In any case, make sure everything associated with work vanishes from your view - laptop, documents etc. . Because everything visible around you prevents you from properly switching off. And this is particularly important in the home office.