With the COVID-19 crisis affecting everything in the world today, a lot of companies have transitioned into a work from home set up as opposed to traditional work in the office. Even before the pandemic, many people fantasize about the idea of working from the comfort of their homes, foregoing their daily commute to the office in favor of more sleep, exercise, or family time.
However, as you get used to working from home, distractions are everywhere and boundaries tend to get blurred, making it difficult for you to stay on top of your game. The next thing you know, you’re struggling with decreased productivity and lack of motivation, which almost always leads to burnout and cabin fever. This is why it’s crucial to set clear boundaries to achieve a work-life balance.
How to Create a Conducive Outdoor Workspace
Working remotely has its ups and downs— sure, you get to stay home and be your own manager, but focusing and staying productive each day can take a little extra effort. Now that it’s slowly becoming a norm, it is essential to maximize each day since you probably don’t want to end up doing some overtime on a Friday or even on a weekend. Here are some tips for creating a conducive outdoor home office:
Keep a dedicated workspace
A great way to improve productivity and efficiency at work is having the right tools and a suitable environment you can work with. Whether you work at home or in the office, your workspace is a huge factor when it comes to your performance and wellbeing. While a collaborative space is ideal in an office situation, a private, outdoor home office will provide you the right amount of comfort and convenience to focus on your job.
Distractions are the major enemies that prevent you from sticking to your schedule, so it’s important that you dedicate a comfortable spot specifically for work—that means getting off the couch or your bed. Your outdoor workspace can be as simple as a desk and chair in the corner of your living room, or if you have the means, set up a home office where you can close the door and shut out distractions. What matters is that it helps you get into the right frame of mind and work productively from the comfort of your home.
Invest in Furniture
Workplace design and ergonomics are proven to have a profound impact on work productivity. An ergonomically designed outdoor home office is critical to creating a safe and comfortable working environment. If you have a desk job, chances are you’re vulnerable to chronic pain and fatigue, so it’s best to reassess your space and use good ergonomics for setting up an outdoor home office.
Investing in quality pieces of furniture can make you more efficient and less prone to work-related injuries. Today’s trend is all about having an ideal workspace that strays away from closed spaces like cubicles and rather encourages a more open and dynamic work area.
Consider improving these areas in your outdoor home office:
- Laptop/Computer Monitor – Your laptop or monitor should be an arm’s length away from your chair with the top part positioned below eye level. Avoid placing it too high or too low in your workstation as this could affect your posture and make you more prone to experiencing back pain.
- Chair – Use a chair that provides proper back support or if you don’t have one, add a lumbar pillow to reduce lower back strain. For good measure, the height of your chair should allow your knees to level with your hips and feet to fully rest on the floor.
- Keep objects close by – Keep the items you often use for work within reach to avoid straining your lower back. These include your notebook, pens, phone. Meanwhile, you can place larger items in an area that will encourage you to stand up instead of twisting from your seat.
Plan out a schedule
When working alone, it’s important to start your day early and plan a more structured schedule than usual. Setting clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many employees achieve work-life balance. One trick is to pretend like you are going into the office–set your alarm, put on a pot of coffee, and dive into your to-do list immediately. Getting work started first thing in the morning is the best way to fuel your productivity throughout the day. Commit to your daily schedule but also be open to change it if you really need to. As long as you do your best to accomplish your tasks within your regular working hours, you will be able to achieve work-life balance even in an outdoor home office set up.
Develop smart strategies
Ever heard of the mantra work smarter, not harder? Well, it definitely applies especially for remote workers like you. While working from home has a lot of benefits, it takes commitment and smart strategies to pull it off successfully. It all starts with proper planning, time management, and fair expectation. Being organized is one strategy you should master when trying to adapt to a home office environment. When you leave a task unfinished today, it can prolong your work hour the next day and so on, so make sure to prioritize tasks that are urgent and easy to accomplish.
Everything depends on how you plan your entire day to complete your tasks in working order and enjoy some extra time to do personal things once your work is finished. Treat it as a motivation that will compensate for the time you lost and help you get through your workday. When you develop smart strategies for working remotely, it can bring a different feeling in your attitude and drive you to be more productive each day.
Stay connected and communicate
If you’re used to socializing at work, the isolation that comes with the work from home set up can quickly become a downer. That’s why it’s important to go beyond email and use other digital tools that can help you communicate better. While remote, you can come up with creative ways to stay connected with your colleagues like playing games, icebreakers, or brain teasers, and hosting weekly lunches or pizza parties. Doing so can help boost camaraderie and maintain your relationship with your co-workers, managers, and direct supervisors. It will also keep you in the loop of your company’s operations and remind you how your work contributes to the big picture. The secret is to keep conversations going remotely, and never let distance get in the way of nurturing your work relationships.
Take breaks wisely
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you need to be working 100% of the time in order to be more productive. Long hours of work can be really exhausting, so it’s important to incorporate breaks into your daily schedule to recharge and do better work throughout the day. Planning your breaks wisely is key to achieving that work-life balance. This means that your ‘breaks’ should not be intended solely for eating or using the bathroom, but also for reducing mental and emotional stress. With that in mind, try to do things that relax and calm your mind like taking short walks or listening to soothing music. This will help your mind rest and make your breaks more meaningful so you can survive your entire shift.
Indulge in your perks
For most people, it can be a struggle to do things for fun or maintain a hobby when you work in the office full-time. Sometimes, your work-life tends to bleed into your personal life and you find it hard to do other things after your shift but sleep. Maintaining a boundary between your work life and personal life is very important even in the home office environment. Fortunately, an outdoor home office setup comes with a lot of perks that you can take advantage of. Read a good book, have a nice bath, play video games, watch movies, cook, bake, plant, and eat good food because you deserve it. Indulging in these perks will not only help you feel better despite the long days at work but can also develop a healthy mindset that you can always do more.
While we have enumerated all the things you need to consider to set up your outdoor home office, there are drawbacks that need to be eliminated or those you should avoid experiencing at work. Fatigue is the most common drawback that a lot of employees experience as a result of physical and mental exhaustion brought by a long day at work. There are a lot of factors that can lead to experiencing fatigue, which can decrease your productivity and cause you to develop low working morale. Just keep in mind that drawbacks can always be prevented if you work smart and optimize your workspace.
Whether you prefer to work in the office or at home, you will need to adapt to the current situation and meet the demands of the organization you work for. Fortunately, there are many ways on how you can make things easier for yourself through proper planning, time management, and fair expectation. Hopefully, these tips can serve as the first step to help you survive and thrive in the home office environment.