Working from Home?
For many Americans, working remotely has become the new normal – and that’s forced plenty of changes in the home.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 5.2 percent of the U.S. workforce worked from home, according to U.S. Census data. While that figure had been rising almost year-over-year this century amid technological advances and accelerating interest in more flexible work environments, it still only represented about 8 million Americans.
With stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders blanketing the country in March, however, remote work surged. By April, a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that 34 percent of Americans who had previously commuted to work were now working at home.
A radical and sudden shift, it’s one expected to stick. Even post-pandemic, experts predict remote work will remain commonplace as employers, forced into remote work amid COVID-19, soften on office attendance and seek a more strategic use of capital. This trend-turned-reality will heighten emphasis on home workspaces and compel people to create more productive, efficient, and comfortable office environments in the home.
5 Rules for Building a Better Work-from-Home Environment
Rule #1: Choose a Dedicated Space
When working from home, it helps to have a home base – one defined spot where everything from the printer to work supplies to a phone charger can sit within arm’s reach. Ideally, it’s a place where you can close the door for privacy as well as one with a strong, reliable Internet connection. Five of Gallagher and Henry’s six Lifestyle Series home plans feature a flex space that’s tailor-made for remote work and many have dedicated that adaptable square footage to a home office.
Rule #2: Gather the Essentials
At its most basic level, a work environment needs a writing surface and a chair. With the writing surface, favor something large enough to hold all your necessities and something at a comfortable height. As for the chair, invest in an ergonomic chair that provides proper back support and complements the height of your desk.
Rule #3: Set the Right Mood
For some folks, working from home is a tough change, which makes the overall vibe of the space that much more important. Adding in personal touches such as décor and photos can help you feel more satisfied and grounded in a space, while color can impact your mood. Green, for instance, is considered calm and soothing, while red ignites energy. Depending on your work and personality, you might select one color over the other.
Rule #4: Mind the Light
Proper lighting is critical in a home office. Lighting impacts your ability to see your work and function well while it also affects eye health. As much as possible, flood the space with natural light, which has been tied to increased productivity as well as improved sleep quality and physical health. Window coverings can allow you to control the amount of light in your office space, while floor or table lamps can deliver additional lighting as necessary.
Rule #5: Reduce Clutter
While you will certainly want the essentials nearby and punching up your designated office space with some mementos has a valuable psychological benefit, don’t overdue it. A cluttered workspace can prove distracting and hamper efficiency. To drive a more organized work environment, move less frequently needed supplies elsewhere and have a cup for pens or a tray for papers.
Create a Winning Workspace
With a seismic shift in the American workforce upon us, remote work has graduated from fringe activity into the mainstream. As a result, many of us will be demanding more from our homes than ever before. Homes will need to hold our personal and professional lives simultaneously. With some careful thought and creative problem solving, however, you can create a comfortable and organized home workspace that promotes productivity and results.