Initially, working remotely seemed like it might be a short-term event; however, many businesses and organizations are slowly returning to the office over many months and in some cases, not at all. As a result, it is important to set up a work-friendly home office space that appeals to your senses, keeping you productive and comfortable. At IT Radix, we support many clients that routinely work remotely in addition to ourselves. Here are some tips to work effectively as well as help reduce distractions and stay on task while you work remotely.

Set up a work-friendly space

Have an appropriate worksurface that can accommodate your computer or laptop, a second monitor, and a keyboard and mouse. Use a comfortable chair. Take the time to review your ergonomics to avoid “cricks” in your neck for typing with your shoulders up by your ears. If possible, get a standing desk or make one to avoid sitting all day—it’s healthier and standing can help you focus. Use a surge protector or small uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ensure that your computer technology is protected from power dips and surges in your home. Velcro cable ties or twist ties are your friend—spend a few moments organizing your cables so that you don’t inadvertently get caught up in them and your desk doesn’t end up looking like a spaghetti dinner of cables. A small USB charging hub makes it easy to keep multiple devices charged throughout the day and can be mounted under your desk using Velcro or Command strips to save space and keep things tidy and out of sight.

Cut the noise

To minimize the distractions of pets or family members as well as electronic temptations such as the TV, set up your work office in the quietest part of your home. Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office door while you are working. Use background noise to help you focus. Check out apps such as Focus@Will or BrainWave which combine music or white noise with binaural tones or frequencies to help improve focus and drown out outside distractions.

Video conference like a pro

Have good lighting so that the participants can clearly see you instead of being backlit like someone in the witness protection program. If you don’t have a place for an appropriate lamp, get a small USB-powered light that could be used with your laptop. Be mindful of what is behind you while you’re on a video call. If necessary, purchase a portable green screen that can attach to your chair to screen your background. Use a headset with a microphone to improve sound quality and reduce the amount of background noise that you transmit. The headset can be used for both online meetings as well as your VoIP telephone.

Clear clutter from your desk

Have a place for papers that you might need to reference while on your computer and those that need to be filed.  A small wireless multi-function printer/scanner can be a godsend in helping tame the paper and ease sharing information with colleagues who are remote.  Simply scan the items and store electronically where you can easily access it both in the office or working remote.  While it is tempting to purchase inexpensive inkjet printers, over the long term, laser printing is usually more cost effective and the toner cartridges do not dry out if used infrequently.

Take time for breaks

Have a visible clock to ensure that you take mental breaks throughout your workday.  Many productivity gurus recommend working in 20- to 30-minute sprints with a small break to help maintain focus and productivity.  There are a variety of apps that can help you track your time as well as remind you to take breaks such as RescueTime, Time Timer, SelfControl and more.

Need help making sense of the various tools to make working remotely a success, contact IT Radix today!

First published in our July 2020 IT Radix Resource newsletter