How to Set Up Your Workplace for Productivity

Remote work is becoming more common. In the past, remote workdays were a rarity, reserved for sick days or inclement weather. Now, remote work is quickly becoming the norm.

With a rise in work-from-home jobs, taking a critical look at your workspace is essential. In addition, since you’re more likely to spend extra time at your home office, it’s worth ensuring you have the best office supplies for productivity and ergonomics. 

Here, we get into the best ways to set up your office to boost productivity without compromising comfort and convenience. So without further ado, let’s jump right in. 

Schedule Timely Breaks

Sitting down for longer periods of time can put stress on your body. One way to mitigate this stress is by taking breaks throughout your workday.

Sitting in the same position for a while without taking a break may inhibit blood circulation, making taking a break all the more important for your physical health. 

One way to encourage yourself to take short breaks throughout the day is by adding schedule breaks to your calendar. You can either set up manual notifications or have repeating alerts every 25 minutes. 

Taking 3- to 5-minute breaks throughout your day will reduce both physical and mental stress and help you become more productive in the long run. 

Avoid Awkward Postures 

If your remote work desk is not ergonomically designed, you will likely develop many posture and body issues. We’ve all leaned the wrong way at our desk and felt it the next day, let alone working day-in-day-out at an uncomfortable desk. 

Here are a few tips to help avoid awkward posture and body strain while working:

  • Your monitor should be arm’s length away from you and tilted, so you look up at the screen.
  • Your chair height should place your knees at hip level.
  • Keeping your wrists and hands at or below elbow level can fight carpal tunnel.
  • If you find yourself on the phone frequently, use a headset instead of cradling the phone between your head and shoulders. 
  • Measure to ensure desk clearance for your knees, thighs, and feet.

Work at Optimal Temperature and Lighting

Researchers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory found the ideal temperature for optimal productivity in the workplace to be 71 or 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

And as far as lighting goes, it is known that low lighting induces drowsiness, and harsh lighting can cause problems like migraines and eye strain.

If you’re looking to optimize the lighting in your office, aim for bright and cool tones and invest in blue-light canceling glasses or filters on your computer. This can help reduce eye strain and help you avoid unwanted headaches while you’re working. 

Invest in Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise is a major distraction for many of us, especially in remote working conditions. While many offices are developed to reduce external noise, our homes are only sometimes as well-designed. In addition, adding noise is occasionally unavoidable for those working from home while caring for children or pets.

According to BIAMP, the European Union loses £30 billion annually due to working days and productivity caused by exposure to excessive noise. 

Of course, we don’t expect you to solve all the productivity losses of the entire EU; instead, investing in noise-canceling devices can help benefit your office on a micro-scale. 

While there are plenty of noise-canceling headphones on the market (like the Sony WH-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum 4, and Bose 700), there are other ways to soundproof your office. For example, soundproofing foam can work wonders in a small office space and act as a way to insulate yourself from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. 

Keep Your Workstation Clean and Organized

While a messy workstation can be a sign of a job well done, if your workstation is constantly in “chaos mode,” you may find yourself stuck in an unproductive loop. Reducing the number of distractions at your desk can make it easier for you to engage with your work.

First, remove everything from your desk that you do not immediately need for your work session. While this may be difficult at first, be exact in your cleaning. Remember, you can always add things back to your desk while you work.

Once you’ve removed the knick-knacks, “World’s Best Remote Employee” mugs, and more from your desk, organize your essential items so you can find them at a moment’s notice. 

If you’re an “out of sight, out of mind” person, try keeping your stationary, technology, filing items, and more in clear storage on your desk. That way, you can benefit from an organized space without slowing your workflow to search for a paperclip. 

Block Time for Tasks

One of the downsides of remote work is all your home distractions are well within reach. As a result, it’s easy to carve away your work time doing unimportant things. 

If you ask a productive person how they stay productive when working remotely, they likely reference the time-blocking technique. 

While the time-blocking technique sounds advanced, all it requires is setting aside time for essential tasks on your calendar to get the attention they deserve. From marking down meeting times to organizing your breaks alongside doing the dishes, you reduce distractions and increase productivity by blocking out your time. 

Set Clear Boundaries for Your Workplace

The hardest part of keeping a schedule is sticking to it. Make sure to honor the time slots you’ve set aside for the day, and make it clear to others that you are busy.

For example, you could tell your coworkers or family members that you have your deep work sessions from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM every day so that they don’t disturb you during those hours. 

Don’t interrupt your deep work session if you have an important message to send out. By putting your message into Routine’s universal inbox, you can send your notice without interrupting your current workflow.

Of course, there are plenty of other organization tips and tricks to help optimize your workflow. Still, these are great starting points to help you maximize productivity while working remotely. 

Shiva Prabhakaran is a growth professional and writer, with his core interests being product-led growth, design, crypto, and startups. He writes regularly for Routine about productivity and workplace apps.

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