Before we were all following “safer-at-home” guidelines, your home office probably didn’t get all that much use. Perhaps you used it to pay bills or respond to an odd after-hours work email. You likely didn’t design it for a full 40-hour week. And even as the country slowly begins to open up, the new normal will probably mean many of us will continue working remotely from our home offices if we have the option. But are we being as productive as we could be? It’s up to you — according to research, office workers perform best when they have control over their physical environment. With this in mind, we’ve got some tips on how you could improve your home office to help you stay as productive as possible.

Upgrade Your Internet

A dependable internet connection is critical for your home office now more than ever. If your WiFi goes out or your connection is too slow, it could mean you’re unable to meet a time-sensitive work deadline. As a back-up plan, see if you could use your mobile phone as a hotspot until you’re back online. The best solution is to completely reassess your internet given that you’re probably heavily using more demanding applications, like video conferencing.  Plus, don’t forget to take into account that other family members are probably using up bandwidth for their own work and school needs, and various tablets and devices. To make sure your home office is running as smoothly as possible, you may need to upgrade your internet.

Upgrade Your Internet

Get Better Monitors and Speakers

When you’re on a video conference call with nine co-workers, your computer screen can quickly become crowded, especially if you’re trying to take notes and follow along with a powerpoint presentation. Using a large TV screen as a monitor — which could double for work and entertainment — could make it easier to actually see the expressions of the people to whom you’re talking. Investing in quality speakers could also be very useful for your home office. Practically speaking, they could offer you better clarity and resolution, making your office space at home sound more like a conference room than a bedroom. If you’re not on a call, good speakers could provide great-sounding ambient music to help keep you focused throughout the day and cancel out any noise distractions from outside.

Make Sure You Have Proper Lighting

Poor lighting can cause eyestrain and headaches, lower your energy level, and prevent you from being able to work effectively. Your goal should be to illuminate your workspace evenly without creating undue glare and contrast. Add desk lamps or directional lamps as needed to fill in any areas that aren’t properly lit. On the other hand, if your problem is that you have an abundance of natural light, you should consider positioning your desk facing north or south to minimize the effect of shadows. You should also explore options of adding blinds or screens that you can adjust as needed to get the perfect lighting.

Stay Cool (or Hot)

While the ideal temperature for an office is around 72 degrees, preferences can widely vary. Accordingly, nothing seems to divide an office more than a fight over the thermostat. But the good news is that in your home office, you’ve got complete control, and can ensure your workspace is as warm or cool as you need it to be. With the dog days of summer quickly coming up, take the time now to plan ahead. You may need to fix or install a better air conditioning system to meet your new demands of working from home. 

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