Home office design by Studio Myte

The concept of flexible work arrangements is gaining popularity, so it is likely that more of us will be setting up home offices in the near future. Here are 10 ideas you can adopt to convert your house into a conducive and productive home office!

1. Soundproofing

Working from home may sound like a comfortable notion, but we are at the mercy of external factors like construction work or busy traffic that disrupt our peace with their tremendous noise pollution. If you are sensitive to noise, consider soundproofing your home or at least the home office space.

For the walls, you will want to add a layer of insulation that can absorb sound travelling between rooms and units. Some common insulation materials include polyurethane foam, which can reduce sound penetration by up to 17 decibels.

For your windows, consider soundproof windows that are usually made from thicker glass, and come in a double glass design, with an air space between them.

2. Play some background music

You don’t need dead silence to have razor-sharp focus while working. Playing some background music might actually aid in your productivity. However, for music to improve your concentration and attention, it is important that you play songs without lyrics so that your mind doesn’t focus on the words instead of on the task at hand. 

Green walls that soothe

3. Colour it in

To decide on the right colour for your home office, think about what kind of environment sets you in the right mood to work. Do you prefer to be in a calm state, or does a stimulating setting sit better with you? If you say the latter, then consider red for your walls, since some studies conducted have shown that people experience heightened concentration and awareness while being in rooms with a red background or light. If you are most productive in a zen environment, then blue or green, colours that invoke the calm of the sea and nature, would work well for you. 

(Read this article for a guide on choosing the right paint colour for your home office.)

4. Plants are your friend

Introduce a few plants into your home office for a dose of DIY biophilic design, the concept of integrating nature with the built environment for mental and physical wellbeing.  

Design by Nune

5. Let in natural light

Name one thing that improves your mood, feelings of wellbeing and even improve work performance? The answer: exposure to natural light.

Studies conducted on employees have revealed that the absence of natural light and outdoor views cause them to feel tired and gloomy.

Also, if you’re working a desk-bound job, chances are that your eyes are glued to a blue light-emitting digital screen for many hours. The strain of this focus makes our eyes tired and long for a visual break. Soothe your peepers by looking out of windows that provide an outside view.

6. Set a cut-off time

It is easy to work past 6pm, the usual office knock off time, when you work from home, simply because you’re technically “at” work as long as you remain at home where your office is.

Not fixing a time to stop working is not only unhealthy as your chances of overworking increase, but also unproductive, since you’re less likely to be as efficient compared to when you have a fixed 6pm deadline when all work stops.

Mimic that kind of corporate rhythm by setting yourself a cut-off time that is reasonable for you to prepare for rest.

7. Aromatherapy

Utilise your sense of smell for optimum productivity. Scents like peppermint and lemon stimulate the brain, whilst research has shown that rosemary improves speed and accuracy when doing demanding mental tasks.

8. Get social

Humans are not made to live in isolation, so working alone at home can have a depressive effect on some people, which will dampen productivity. Counteract that loneliness by choosing personal over digital interactions, such as phone calls or face-to-face meetings.

9. A (reasonable) dose of caffeine

Most of us enjoy our daily cuppa, as its stimulative effects do jolt the brain to be more awake and aware, heightening our productivity in the process. However, the peak levels and effects of caffeine are enjoyed within the first 30 to 60 minutes of consumption, after which it remains in the body for as long as 24 hours. The extended life of caffeine, also known as the half-life of caffeine, in contrast, is a negative effect on the body as it will affect our sleep.

To ensure we experience mostly the positive effects of caffeine, sleep researchers like Dr Matthew Walker recommend limiting your caffeine intake to the mornings and steering clear from it past noon.

10. Get enough sleep

With all the news on the "global sleep deprivation epidemic" lately, it is now common knowledge that sufficient sleep is a key pillar to not just productivity, but overall wellbeing and health. According to his book, Why We Sleep, Dr Walker advises readers to be sure to get between seven to nine hours of it. 

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