Fast Company recently ran an article about office features which can hamper productivity. I’ve worked in some crappy, dank offices, and their claims rang true for me. But now I work from home — what about us? What do we need to know to select a room or a nook in which to office — or to improve the space we’ve already got?
So Fast Company started out a little iffy on this one: researchers collected “some evidence” that “poor ventilation” decreases productivity. That statement lacks any sort of concrete facts, but who’s going to argue when I say a pleasant breeze will improve any workspace?
Let freshly-oxygenated air into your work cubby by opening a window or adding a fan. Overhead ceiling fans can be useful for controlling the temperature, too — let them turn one way and they’ll suck hot air to the ceiling. Reverse them, and they push warm air down.
If a ceiling fan isn’t an option, how about a hot-stuff desk fan? If all else fails — you don’t have a window and obtaining a desk fan is an insurmountable task — bring in a plant or two to change out the air for you.
My studio has a lovely east-facing window through which I get breezes most of the year — I even crack it open in the winter to keep the air moving.
Ugh, my last office was 63 degrees — if we were lucky. At home I keep the thermostat set at 68 in the winter about about 80 during the summer. A study out of Cornell suggests we should keep workspaces pretty warm — when researchers raised one office from 68 to 77, they found typing errors decreased by 44%, and overall typing output increased 150%.
77 degrees seems pretty warm, but I do have to admit: the toastier my fingers are, the smoother my typing. If you want to keep the furnace low in the winter, try these USB-powered gloves.
Most people long for offices with windows, not florescent-lit boxes. Another study found productivity rises 15% when natural light hits an office. If you’re selecting a room at home — try to go for one with windows.
Dedicate a desk
I’mma throw another one in here; it’s worked well for me since I started working from home. If you are a crafter or artist, it may be useful for you as well. I have three desks in my studio, and each has its own purpose: one is for messy/assembling work: clamping, working with glues. Another is for drawing on. The third is my very small school desk, used ONLY for computer work and occasionally writing by hand. It’s too small to even fit other tasks.
I used to use all three desks for whatever I wanted — and I was much less productive. My “main” desk was too big; covered in papers and knick knacks and half-projects. Now it’s got my laptop, a monitor, my mouse, and a pen. The two cubbies hold notebooks and… well, crap. But the whole desk situation is like night and day, productivity-wise.
What about you? What makes a home office better for your productivity?