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More and more people are choosing to work from home, with the trend growing 73 percent in the last six years. That can be attributed, in part, to the more relaxed attitude of bosses and, more heavily, to the growth of technology, making it much easier than it’s ever been. Whether working for a startup that hasn’t yet opened a full office or working from home because of commute concerns or personal commitments, workshifting can be a viable option. But you have to consider several potential problems first.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when preparing your home office:

Out of sight, out of mind

No one can work productively with the distraction of a messy workspace. The reason office desks are so effective is that we don’t have too many personal items draped around. So, keep your home desk clear and only have items on it that are needed to get your work done (fashion or sport magazines don’t count!). If you are eating whilst working, take the time to remove the debris once you’ve finished so it doesn’t distract you.

Be equipped

Have all of your equipment together – don’t leave it scattered around the room and your home. Are your books, notes, documents and devices all in one place? Once they are, you can work without having to break away, and you won’t become frenzied when you can’t find certain vital pieces of work.

Plan, to work

Planning your working days helps you relax, get down to the tasks at hand and not have to panic about what’s on your to-do list. Why don’t you pop up a whiteboard schedule next to your desk? If you have a larger space, you can leave it up full time. Or, if you are creating a makeshift working area, put it up when you’re in work hours. This will clearly define your working area and keep you focused and on task.

There will always be chores to do and TV programmes to catch up on, so don’t just add them into your day ad hoc,otherwise, they’ll start to take over more and more of your time and affect your ability to commit to a task. Plan in your breaks and make a cup of tea, have a walk around the block or read a book – but whatever you do, be sure to get away from your computer and give your eyes a rest.

How’s your setup?

The ergonomics of your equipment are vital to your health and productivity when working from home. Do you need to purchase a back or foot rest or a proper office chair? Is your seat so high that you stare down onto your desktop screen? Have a look online to find out more about ergonomics and what to bear in mind when planning your home office.

Don’t forget – you’re still “at work”

If you’re working from home, you need to make sure you are set up for all areas of working life so that professionalism isn’t compromised. For example, if you may be having visitors to your home, have you got somewhere to entertain them? And if you will be video or phone conferencing, have you got a clear background and a quiet place to connect to the call, away from children, pets or gardeners?

Plan for outside the home office

Have you planned for what happens away from your home office? If you work from home because your company doesn’t have an office yet, you will still need a professional space for conferences, team building, brainstorming, recruiting and meeting clients and agencies. There are many ways to get meeting spaces without committing to any long-term contracts, and this can all be done online – perfect for those working on the go and from home.

I hope these tips help, and I wish you good luck on your home-working journey! If you’re a work-at-home veteran and have extra advice, leave a comment below to share with fellow mobile workers!

Need a little creative inspiration? Check out this Workshifting Pinterest board: 

Follow Workshifting’s board Amazing Home Offices on Pinterest.

Photo Credit: agnes sie via Compfight cc

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Anna Duggal
Anna Duggal is a content manager at Search Office Space and meetingrooms.com in London, England. Having always worked from an office, Anna’s working days consist of forcing chocolate biscuits on her colleagues, forgetting to water the plants and nagging her boss for an office cat. Anna is always on social media and likes to read and write blogs about business, workplace matters and different types of working styles. You can connect with Anna on Twitter: @AnnaDuggal.
  • bizshop

    Decent article, but wrong on several points. Some people work better in a cluttered environment. There are basically two type of people – filers and pilers. The filers work best with clean desks and are great at fulfilling routine tasks, pilers work best with lots of stimulation and are the more creative. Office desks are NOT effective, and some of the most efficient workers I’ve seen are surrounded by personal items. You also don’t really need professional meeting places formost businesses – I’ve been a self-employed consultant for 3 decades and have had no difficulty with finding a coffee shop or restaurant for a meeting if need be.

  • http://www.steigmancommunications.com Daria Steigman

    I have to disagree on personal items. While you might work better in a stripped down, impersonal environment, many others (including me) don’t compartmentalize in this way. Whether home office or “corporate” office, almost everyone I know who plans on staying in their job for more than 5 minutes has personal touches around them. I have all kinds of funky little things — from the plastic mini-baseball helmet to the dozen Latvian wood roses, they are all a piece of who I am. Rather than being distractions, they give me a warm space that is distinctly my own.

  • Anna Duggal

    Thanks for your feedback! I agree that everyone is different; as a creative myself, I find that I can’t open my mind and get out my thoughts, blogs and articles if my space is cluttered and my mind elsewhere. A photo or some personal items are lovely to look at when you need a second to collect your thoughts, I agree, but I am opposed to clutter in the form of kid’s toys, your breakfast dishes or a magazine – as those lead to a wondering mind! And bizshop, I don’t need an excuse to hold a meeting in a coffee shop (especially one with home-made cake!!) but it’s good to have options, so everyone can work in the way that suits them :) Thanks for reading!

  • youngbusinessleader

    This is a good list of tips to help boost productivity whilst working at home, to see how else you can increase productivity please have a look at http://youngbusinessleader.com/business/your-productivity-sucks/

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  • Richard Mak

    Interesting.