5 key points to feel and concentrate better when working from home

You might be in the same position as me, working from home and try to have a good and productive day. Here are five tips that will help you to feel and concentrate better.

Happy, smiling young woman working from home on a laptop, holding a mobile phone.

Make “home sweet home” also count at your home office 

“Home sweet home” is a saying that everyone knows. But do you know what it means?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s used as “an expression of one’s pleasure or relief at being in or returning to one’s own home". 
We usually associate a home as a place to relax, and that’s what makes a home sweeter. A home is a place where you feel comfy and happy.

So, in other words, a home is all about your wellbeing. But how can you get the best surroundings for yourself while working from home?

Now we can expect that the home-office set-up will become a part of our daily lives. Over the last few years, more and more people are working from home - but the pandemic has caused those numbers to explode.

According to a global survey, 88% worked from home during the pandemic, while 31% already worked from home[1]. But what about the future? 76 % of the people surveyed said they want to work from home at least one day per week. The high percentage of people wanting to work from home creates a significant demand for a creative home office interior.

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When you work from home, you have the advantage to choose the setting. It can be at the dining table, on the couch, bedroom or somewhere else.

However, in a Leesman Index Survey, almost 89% said they worked more productively in a dedicated office or workroom because the setting helped shape their mind-set.[2]

Does the home-office setting impact our wellbeing?

Despite the rapid growth in home-offices, don't forget that your home-office setting can affect you and your wellbeing[3]. Having the work atmosphere inside your house can make you more stressed, anxious and depressed[4].

But what if I told you that your home office's design is one of the issues to blame?

In 2020, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) commissioned a survey made with 1,500 homeowners. It was to investigate how the pandemic has influenced the way people wanted to live and work at home[5].
It was to understand the mental and physical benefits of living in a better-designed home. For me, the outcome is quite shocking.

70% of the respondents agreed that the current home design affects their mental wellbeing. So, let’s see how to create a productive office setting at home.

5 key tips for creating a better-designed home office

Let me help you to feel better and be more productive at your home office.  Let's start to rethink your office, and here I give my five essential tips worth considering.

1) Invite the light inside

Daylight is essential.
Make sure that you have access to natural light in your office. Open up the curtains, remove things blocking the windows and place your desk in front or near a window. Studies have shown that daily exposure to natural light has a great range of health benefits. It merely increases productivity.

The right combination of daylight and artificial light is what we aim for. Add a simple soft light at your desk or in the room. The soft artificial glow adds a warm and cosy feeling to your work environment, contributing to a less stressful office setting. Once visual discomfort is gone, you'llill have a stimulating environment that will help you perform.[6]

“35 % of the employees working in an architectural office prefer blue as the primary interior colour.”
[7]
2) Boost your mood by adding colours 

Colours play an essential role to create an experience and a feeling. Colours impact your physiology, motivation, behaviour, as well as cognitive and social interactions[8]

Colours are a useful tool to foster certain emotions and influence how you experience a room. When you need to select a colour, my advice is to choose it wisely and be clear about what you want the room to make you feel. The right colour can enhance productivity, creativity, focus and wellbeing[9].

BlueThe colour blue is an intellectual colour as it represents communication and concentration. 
YellowThe colour yellow is a vibrant colour as it's associated with joy, optimism and warm feelings. Yellow encourages concentration and alertness. 
OrangeEnthusiasm and creativity are enhanced with the colour orange. 
Green

Green represents our nature, and it's restful and refreshing. It has a calming effect, and it's believed that it relieves stress. 

 

Make a colourful home for you to be happy and feel better for work and pleasure.  

Get inspired and see how you invite colours inside with a colourful ceiling design.

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3) Welcome the green plants and improve the air quality 

When we're surrounded by nature, we feel at ease. So, I can say that plants are more than just pretty decorations. They bring colour to every space, but they also fuel your brain with powers. 

Psychologists have found out that flora can increase productivity by 15 % in a workspace[10]

Studies show how our wellbeing and happiness is positively affected by plants. Research from 2014 reveals how three commercial spaces in the U.K. and the Netherlands report how introducing plants to the workspace gave higher air quality levels and improved the general concentration and workplace satisfaction[11]

Don't be afraid to welcome green plants into your office setting. You will feel more in balance. 

4) Sit correctly at your desk 

We spend most of our day sitting in front of our desk. But have you considered how you sit? 

It's not a secret that we tend to use whatever chair we have on hand when we work from home. But let me be clear, you must have support from an ergonomic chair. It will not only reduce injury and pain but also boost your overall satisfaction and productivity.
Unfortunately, 73% of home office workers use the wrong chair or set up[12]

A comfortable ergonomic chair designed for maximum lumbar support will help minimise back pain and let you focus on the daily tasks. An ergonomics study from 2003 reveals that employees who were given an ergonomic chair reported fewer negative symptoms throughout the day and had an 18 % increase in productivity. 

On that note, you should never sit in one position for more than an hour. It's recommended that every 30-40 minutes, you get up and move around. It helps to reset your posture and activate the bloodstream in the whole body. 

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5) Level up the acoustic environment

It's easy to forget that your setting influences how you work. We don't see the surroundings as a disturbance, and fairly often, acoustics is an area that people don't consider. 

One of the perks with a home-office is the zero disturbance from your colleagues' conversations or constant movements. Nevertheless, we must not misjudge how sound level noise can negatively affect your concentration, productivity and work capacity[13]

If we talk about a long-term home office, it's ideal to be in a separate area that's appropriately outfitted for work. It will assure 75 % fewer distractions and 60 % chances for a quieter environment[14]

With improving the acoustic comfort at your workspace, it's not only the lower noise level and less reduction you reduce, but it will also support speech intelligibility. The home office calls for remote contact options where we apply video conferences, video calls, Teams meetings and webinars. In 2020, online platforms as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams had over 475 million daily users.[15] 

You can get the best communication level with proper equipment like a microphone or a headset, but the indoor acoustic environment needs to be optimised to assure good sound quality. 

But how do you know if your home office needs acoustic improvement? 

Well, look around and listen. 
You will find out soon if you work in a minimalistic decorated space with many hard, smooth surfaces and materials. 

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The sound from your voice echoes in the room as there is nothing to absorb the sound, so it creates a cacophony of noise. Hard surfaces and materials reflect sound, where soft materials absorb it. 

Books on a shelf, middle-sized plants, paintings on the wall and cabinets will also help improve the indoor acoustic environment. It diffuses and scatters the sound waves, which we perceive as more comfortable.

You should add sound-absorbing materials to get a better acoustic atmosphere. But be aware, not every soft material absorbs the same amount of sound. A 7 mm thick carpet on the floor has other properties than 40 mm acoustic ceiling panels directly mounted to the wall or ceiling. 

Get inspiration on what materials can absorb sound:
"5 questions about acoustics".

Now, we can call it "Home Sweet Home"

With the following upgrades to your home office, you will feel better and concentrate more. It's crucial that you're happy, relaxed and motivated to start the workday. 

In a thriving workspace, a positive atmosphere is crucial. That's a topic we didn't touch upon here, but it's definitely adding an excellent vibe to the quiet office set-up. 

It's music! 

Music impacts our mood, and if you play music while working, it can also add to your productivity. It helps you to relax and get energised.

According to a study from the University of Miami's Music Therapy Department, the test subjects who listened to music while working were able to complete their tasks with superior quality and speed compared to the study group without music. 

So let's cue up a playlist and fill the space with your favourite mood music. 

My advice is to start with Sam Feldt (feat. ALMA & Digital Farm Animals) - Home Sweet Home. 


Sounds Beautiful 

Sources;

[1] Iometrics and Global Workspace Analytics “Global Work-From-Home-Experience Survey”, 2020

[2] The Home Leesman Index, May 2020

[3] Workplace Thinkers and Makers, “The Office of The Future report”, October 2020

[4] RIBA Homeowner Survey - Happiness Through Design: Executive Summary

[5]ibid

[6] De Carli M. et al, ”Review on visual comfort in office buildings and influence of daylight in productivity.”, Indoor Air 2008, 17-22 August 2008, Copenhagen, Denmark - Paper ID: 112

[7] Poursafar Z. et.al, “Evaluation of color and lighting preferences in architects’ offices for enhancing productivity”, Int J Cur Res Rev, vol 8, issue 3, February 2016

[8] Kwallek N, Soon K, Woodson H, Alexander JL. “Effect of color schemes and environmental sensitivity on job satisfaction and perceived performance.” Percept Motor Skills. 2005;101(2): 473-486.

[9] Aleksandra A. et al, “Effect of color in interior design”, Contemporary achievements in civil engineering 23-24. April 2019. Subotica, Serbia

[10] Wired Magazine, Work Smarter “How to use office plants to boost productivity and job satisfaction”, December 2017

[11] Nieuwenhuis, M. et al, “The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. (2014)

[12] University of Cincinnati. "Ergonomics expert says work smarter at home: Sit up, raise the screen, pad the chair." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2020

[13] Kjellberg A, Landström U., “Noise in the office: Part II—The scientific basis (knowledge base) for the guide”, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 14 (1-2), 93-118

[14] Reynolds B. FlexJobs Annual Survey, “Workers Believe a Flexible or Remote Job Can Help Save Money, Reduce Stress, and More”. 2018

[15] https://www.livewebinar.com/blog/50-video-conferencing-statistics-for-the-year-2020