Working Remotely? Time to Change Up your Home Office

Working remotely from home has some huge benefits: your coworkers never know if you are wearing pajama pants, there’s no long commute drive to and from work each day, and nobody (besides your family!) cares that you are blasting your music or podcasts throughout your workday.

If you are new to remote working, it may feel like you got shoved into it, and once you set up your VPN and your laptop, you may not have thought much about the space that you occupy for about 8 hours a day. If you are spending that much time in one spot though, you might as well make the most of it! Let’s dig into some ways that you can change your office surroundings, even if your home office happens to be your dining room table.

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1. Have a clean backdrop for any video conferencing. While it’s fun to look at everyone’s backgrounds with pictures of pets and kids, and try to guess which books on the bookshelf behind them they’ve cracked open to read recently, it’s distracting. The space behind you should be relatively boring so that you can keep a good work-life balance: something that can be hard to come by when you’re finding yourself working from home. Below are some tips to help keep distractions behind you to a minimum:

  • Remove any personalized items including framed photos that your webcam may show.
  • Take down any wall hangings that include quotes on them.
  • If you have a large bookcase, aim to have the books be out of focus. (You can do this on some upscale webcams.)
  • If you can’t easily blur out the background of your home office, opt for a simple backdrop, either by pinning a bed sheet behind you, or purchasing a simple background. (Zoom, for example, even has free backgrounds to blur out your actual room.)

2. Add some music! Instead of playing music from your laptop speakers, which, let’s be honest, probably aren’t great, consider investing in a real speaker to place beside your desk, or even in that bookshelf behind you that you’re trying hide. The KEF LS50 is a mini bookshelf speaker, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space, but does offer a lot better audio quality than any built-in computer speakers. After all, you can listen to your podcasts all day without anyone judging you. (Just don’t get mad if your productivity decreases a little.)

3. While you may be used to the fluorescent lights of many corporate offices, you don’t have to deal with that at home. In fact, you can choose to have different hued lights depending on the time of day. Add a welcoming lamp on your desk, or floor lamp beside you, and use a bulb that can switch from bright blue-based light in the morning to red-based or warmer tones in the afternoon. There are several bulb options on the market right now that allow you to switch hues, including the very popular Philips brand. Warmer toned lights in the afternoon help your body understand that the sun is getting lower in the sky, and has been linked to improving your ability to sleep.

4. The last thing you want to do when you see your home office it feels like it doesn’t represent you, or fit with the rest of the house. Although it’s advisable to keep your immediate background devoid of personalized things, you can add a cozy blanket to throw on your lap as you work, a fun rug to add color, and desk accessories or even a vase of fresh flowers from the garden. You may be working, you are doing it from the comfort of your home. If you’re craving a creative office space, check out these options. Searching for more inspiration to inspire productivity? Architecture Digest has an amazing selection that can help motivate you to get down to business.

5. Consider purchasing a standing desk. If you’re going to be working at home for the foreseeable future, it might be time to purchase a standing-sitting desk. People who have sitting jobs have an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, so if you can switch out some of your sitting with standing, you’ll reduce these risks. You’ll want to find an adjustable one so that you can stand or sit depending on your mood; make sure you also have a supportive rug where you stand, since standing on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time will end up hurting your feet.

Working from home might be a little strange for those of you who have spent years physically interacting with your coworkers, but it certainly does offer more freedom to your surroundings.

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These Simple Tips and Tricks will Help you to Work from Home Much More Efficiently

If you want to work from home more efficiently than ever before, then this is the guide for you. Take a look below to find out more.

Set a Schedule

The first thing that you need to do is set a schedule and then stick to it. If you can, try and establish clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop. This is how a lot of remote workers are able to maintain a much healthier work-life balance. If you work erratic hours, then you may need to adjust your schedule accordingly.

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Create a Good Routine

Deciding that you are going to sit down at your desk and start work at a set time is one thing, but creating a routine that helps to get you to your desk is another. If you want to really help yourself, then you need to have the same routine every morning. This may include returning home after you have been out on a jog or even getting dressed properly when you wake up. Some people who work from home like to lounge in their PJ’s because it is much more comfortable, but at the end of the day, it won’t help you to be creative.

Set Ground Rules

Set ground rules with others in your home, or those who share the space. If you have kids, then make sure that they do some of the chores around the house and also make sure that they give you your space when you are trying to get your head down. If you are able to do this then you will soon find that you are far more productive and that you are also able to have a much more efficient business schedule. If you have a family then you may find that you struggle with your internet connection as soon as the kids get home so look into some business internet packages if you can.

Schedule Breaks

Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a break from time to time. You need to take regular breaks because if you don’t then you may never end up relaxing as much as you could. If you are not careful then you may also end up overworking and this is the last thing that you want. It’s also important that you don’t short-change yourself when taking breaks too. If you plan to have an hour but only end up having 20 minutes then this will make it harder for you to get your head down and concentrate, so give yourself time and don’t feel guilty about it.

Leave the House

You should try and leave the home on a regular basis. If you don’t then you may find that work ends up being too much and that you struggle with motivation. When leaving the house, try and make the effort to meet up with friends or even try and give yourself a break from work in general. Working from home can be isolating, and if you aren’t careful it is very easy for things to mount up quickly. If you want to stop this from being the case, then socialising is key.

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How To Meet Work From Home Challenges Head-On With The Right Software

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In the last few months the world has been turned upside down. The COVID-19 healthcare crisis has changed everything in our lives. One of the areas that it has affected the most has been the workplace.

With workers unable to share a space, non-essential businesses have had to close their doors. Those that have been able to, have adapted by asking employees to work from home.

Working from home has its benefits, especially when social distancing and isolation are such major issues. Working from home can lead to improved productivity, and it can help your business remain flexible to challenges.

But the issues associated with working from home include challenges surrounding communication and collaboration, and concerns over cybersecurity.

In this article we’ll talk about how you can meet all of these challenges head-on with the right software.

Collaboration

When you share an office space it’s easy to collaborate. But when your workforce is spread out and is completely isolated, it can be a challenge to work with other people effectively.

The right software can help this. Firstly, by making use of Cloud Services and Solutions you can work together on the same documents in real-time. All of the changes that anyone makes, will be visible on the other person’s screen. All of the work will be stored safely on the cloud.

Email is a way of communicating collaboratively, but it’s not effective. Because emails tend to be long-form they lack immediacy.

Using a tool such as Slack, you’ll be able to quickly engage with other members of the team and share ideas quickly.

Communication

In addition to using services such as Slack to communicate, one way that your business can stay effective and productive is by having regular meetings. Servies such as Zoom are great for this as they offer the ability to host meetings with multiple participants.

Try and keep regular meetings. Maintain a schedule as you might when you were in the office. Given the change in circumstances, it may be productive to host more meetings and include the wider team where possible.

Cybersecurity

One of the biggest concerns you will face will be that of cybersecurity.

Hackers and cybercriminals have increased their activity levels throughout the COVID-19 crisis and as a result, cybercrime has gone up. There is a very good reason that this has happened. Working from home puts your business’ data at risk. Home networks are far easier to hack than you might find in the workplace.

In order to avoid attacks on your home network, you should install a virtual private network. This will provide you with an increased level of security.

In addition to this, you should also hire a managed service provider. By outsourcing your IT support, you’ll get around the clock support. Your MSP will be able to spot any vulnerabilities in your network and they can work to address them. They will also be able to help you to put disaster recovery plans in place that will help you in case of the worst.

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7 Space-Saving Tips For Your Home And Office

Being lucky enough to own a lot of possessions is one thing, but having enough room to store all your possessions is another. Over 25% of Americans admit to having challenges when it comes to household clutter. But not everyone can afford to move into a more spacious house. Plus, bigger spaces are not necessarily the solution to cluster problems. If you feel your abode is currently a mess, consider some of the following space-saving tips to make life at home, or the office organized and clean.

1. Lofty Ideas

This idea is perfect for small homes or offices that have the benefit of high ceilings. You can take advantage of the high ceiling by building lofts. At home, you can build a loft for use as an extra bedroom or living space (depending on how large the space is). Most people living in studio apartments have found this idea to be very helpful, as it helps to separate your private space from the rest of the apartment. In your office, the loft can house some important documents or even an extra office space.

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2. Pull-out Tray Tables

This is especially beneficial for those who work from home and require some workspace. Installing a sliding table is an excellent way of creating a workspace at home. The great thing about slide tables or pull-out trays is that you can install it anywhere in your home – whether in your kitchen, bedroom, or living area. The only extra thing you’ll need is a chair to tuck under your table. Once you’re done with work, you can take the chair out of the way. If you already have a small table for work, you can boost the amount of space you have by attaching a roll-out desk. You can slide this desk out of your table to give you more room to work. And slide it back in when you are done.

3. Wall Shelves

If your floor looks a mess with too much stuff, you can create enough space by building wall shelves. Wall shelves, when done properly, offer more than just a storage platform. They also add to the character and style of the room. The idea can even extend into your bedroom or wardrobe. With the latter, all you need to do is to add a few more shelves if the space is available. Or, you can extend the length of your wardrobe by attaching extra shelves to it. Your home-based working space will also receive a lot of boost with the addition of a wall shelf. It will also help to avoid clusters and make it less difficult to organize your stuff. In the office, wall shelves can provide extra space for files or even picture frames.

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Key Questions To Ask Before Running Your Business From Home

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Whether launching a new business or looking for ways to improve your existing firm, the home-based option is very attractive. The idea of avoiding the daily commute, reducing your overheads, and having full control of the brand offers huge motivation. However, you must avoid jumping straight in at the deep end and learn to analyze the situation from all perspectives. Otherwise, you could make a huge error.

Home-based ventures aren’t for everyone. Meanwhile, even those that are suited to this way of working must establish the right strategies for their businesses to thrive. The following questions should aid the cause.

#1. Can the business work from home?

Not all business concepts are suited to home-based endeavors. For example, you couldn’t possibly run a grocery store from your home. This list of home business ideas should provide inspiration and help you decide whether your concept is a winner or not. Of course, you’ll also need to consider other aspects. Such as geographic location to confirm that there is an opportunity for you to build a successful company. Chasing an unachievable goal is never wise.

After all, taking on a project that is destined to fail will prevent you from unlocking your full potential irrespective of how well you perform.

#2. Will I be able to stay productive?

While working from home does bring many benefits, the reality is vastly different to the image. You will require a high level of discipline while also finding ways to stop potential distractions. It is also necessary to check for reasons why your home office is failing. When your surroundings and frame of mind are under control, though, you’ll have a far better shot at success. Crucially, it’ll promote an increased level of consistency across the business.

Conversely, if the home isn’t build to encourage productivity, your output will fall. The detrimental impact that this can have on the venture will bring failure.

#3. Are there opportunities for growth?

It’s one thing to build a home business that satisfies your immediate goals. However, true success comes from hitting long-term targets. Therefore, keeping one eye on the prospect of expansion is crucial. Hiring remote freelancers can increase your workforce in an effective manner. On a similar note, pop up stores can help you reach offline audiences. Once again, though, it’s necessary to analyze the scenario. Otherwise, you could hit a relatively low ceiling.

Besides, this can form a significant step towards setting objectives and time frames. This in itself can work wonders for motivation levels too.

#4. What are the threats to my business?

When starting a business of any kind, it’s vital to recognize that problems can surface. Learning to cyber secure your home should be top of the agenda as virtual attacks could destroy your business and impact the family’s home lives. You will also rely on other companies for issues like deliveries or face fierce local competition for your service-based firm. A strong network supported by a vigilant approach to intellectual theft is also highly beneficial.

Keeping your business protected won’t only aid your pursuit of sustainability. It’ll also keep your mind at ease, which is particularly crucial when the office is also your home.

#5. How can I keep the business running when I’m not around?

Running a business is tough work, which is why semi-frequent breaks are essential. They are a chance to refresh your body and mind. Sadly, it does pose the dilemma of how the business will operate during your absence. If managing the business as a joint venture with a friend, there’s an easy solution thanks to modern tech and IM services. Depending on the type of venture, it may be possible to outsource the venture temporarily too.

If you’re a landlord, for example, property management companies can help. If selling products, you probably store them elsewhere anyway. So, automated sales software is the answer.

#6. Do I really want to do it?

Running your own business, particularly from home, can be very rewarding. However, it requires a lot of hard work and can be mentally draining. Moreover, there will be moments of insecurity and difficulties. You may be better suited to a traditional form of employment. Or, in today’s market, you can still work from home as a freelancer or remote-based employee. This removes the business elements, which can be very liberating.

For those with the natural entrepreneurial mindset, though, it isn’t only the best option. It is the only option. Better still, there’s never been a better time to embrace it.

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Why Your Home Office Is Failing

Working from home has become a popular trend for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and even employees. As a result, your home office is at the heart of your everyday activities. Not only does it provide your home with a professional function, but it also serves as a centre of inspiration, creativity, and productivity. At least, that’s what the theory says. In practice, however, many home-based professionals struggle to make it work. The home office, which they hope would be a supportive ally in their quest to success, fails to deliver the expected results.

Does it mean it’s time for you to ditch the home office and find a new solution? Not so quickly! Working remotely can be tricky. Despite your best efforts, you might still be making costly mistakes that affect your productivity day after day. Indeed, the question is not how your home office is failing, but how you are failing to make the most of it.

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You don’t plan your day like a real office day

Working from home gives you more flexibility to manage your time. However, it’s essential to structure your day in the same way you would if you were working in an office. Indeed, just because you’re working from a different place doesn’t mean that it should dramatically upset your traditional work routine. As a rule of thumb, you’ll find that maintaining your structure and habits can help you to move quickly through tasks. Indeed, a change of environment can be disorienting – and even though some claim that changing their workplace regularly contributes to enhancing their creativity, it’s not always the case. Therefore, maintaining your usual approach to tasks planning can ensure a smooth change.

Your indoor air is stuffy
Here’s an interesting question: How often do you renew your indoor air? It might sound strange at first, but offices have an indoor ventilation system that ensures the air you breathe is renewed continuously. Not many households, however, have a similar system in place. Instead, most people rely on manual ventilation, such as opening the windows. But, if you can’t focus with your windows open, you might want to have a look at the www.ModernFanOutlet.com site to consider the addition of a ceiling fan. Indeed, a fan will provide air movement, which ensures your brain receives plenty of oxygen. Why does it matter? Oxygen is a natural brain performance boost! Your thought process gets slow in a stuffy room.

You don’t account for breaks

When you work from home, you might feel guilty at the idea of scheduling breaks. Ultimately, you might worry that taking breaks becomes an act of laziness. But you’d be wrong to think so. According to www.SocialTriggers.com, the prefrontal cortex is the thinking part of your brain. It is responsible for your focus and logical thinking. The prefrontal cortex needs regular breaks to let the brain recharge its energy and make further cognitive connections. In short, taking a break makes you a better thinker. You can’t go on forever without allowing yourself to leave the desk regularly and refresh your mind. More importantly, refusing to take breaks affects your productivity and concentration.

You work in the middle of the living room

What you call your home office is, in fact, the corner of the sofa. You work in your lounge, with a laptop balancing on the armrest. Unfortunately, you are surrounded by distractions that slow down your work. Your favourite show on TV is only one click away – and, let’s be honest, the remote controller is so easy to use that you might not even notice you’re using it. Additionally, if you’re staying at home with your children or partner, they may be more likely to interrupt you as you appear to be available. How can you be working if you’re sitting on a couch or at the kitchen table? Instead, a home office offers a dedicated desk that serves no other functions that supporting your day-to-day work.

You feel isolated

Sure, working from home can be beneficial is you don’t like to be interrupted or distracted by coworkers. However, it’s also an isolating experience that cuts you off from social contact. At home, you can’t build any meaningful human interactions. If you’re a social butterfly, you may miss the constant buzz of the office conversations and the chance to grab lunch with colleagues. Feeling isolated, however, can rapidly escalate into a mild form of depression, which can not only put your performance at risk but your mental health too.

The problem with the home office is your approach. Indeed, you need to create a strategic work routine that suits you when you’re at home. But at the same time, you also need to make room for breaks and social interactions throughout the day.

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