Working outside the office a trend which is not only on the rise, but most likely a signal for the long-term future of the business world. According to recent government census surveys, the numbers for home office workers show a steady incline with not many signs of change. In fact, with so many technological advances in recent years, it is not just the tech markets that are getting on board. Office life is often seen as stifling and more of a cliché, especially by the rising crop of tech-savvy employees, such as the Millennials or even the mid-year workers, who are looking for some revitalization in their careers.
To stay on the forefront and attract or retain your best employees, it is becoming necessary to facilitate the set-up of a home office operation. And, when you consider the positive results, such as reduced facility cost and increased productivity, why wouldn’t you make the move? The following are seven essential items your mobile workforce needs to build a productive and successful home office.
1) The Workspace
First and foremost, your employees need a workspace that is their own. In other words, don’t use a common area that the rest of the household frequents. You wouldn’t have an office that everyone walks through in a traditional business setting and the same rules should apply for the home office. Employees need to feel like they can leave projects in partial completion without the fear of someone packing up their work and, thus, stifling their creativity and momentum.
The home office space should also be comfortable and inviting for the worker. This should not be a dreaded room, which weakens productivity. The space should be as ergonomic as possible and designed with the worker’s individuality as an important consideration. Also, a window and a door can be extremely beneficial. The window serves as a reminder of the outside world and a good measure of the progression of the day and the door allows the worker the ability to shut out any household distractions, which can seriously undermine the effectiveness of the home office.
2) Up-to-Date Hardware and Software
Next up are the tools, which drive the effectiveness of the work being produced. If your hardware and software are not as optimized as your needs, the whole operation is likely to come to a grinding halt. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting on equipment to complete its end of the deal. These kinds of delays breed distractions. Again, think of the home office as an extension of the typical office. You would make an investment in the infrastructure of your business to stay competitive and the same should be true of the home office outcroppings.
These investments can come in many shapes and sizes, too, and can be customized for each individual. If a person is often involved in telecommunications, a quality headset would be a great fit. Or, if an employee is working on projects which require large amounts of data, a cloud service would benefit greatly for transferring or saving those files.
3) Desktop Calendar and Notebook
Even with all of the technological options available, there is often no replacement for writing down notes, dates and pertinent information for the future. The methodology of taking notes in a school setting is to help the student remember information by making them perform a physical task. The same is true for adults in the work setting. And, maybe most pertinent, being able to see what is on the calendar, without having to refer to your devices, can help avoid sidetracking distractions.
4) Comfortable Chair
As discussed in the first section of this article, the employee needs to have a comfortable and inviting place to work and a chair can be an often overlooked consideration of this scenario. In fact, a quality chair can have a huge impact in the well being of the workers. Many studies point to the long-term effects of poor seating conditions and reduced productivity. A gesture of this nature may also signal to an employee the importance of their participation in the organization.
5) Food and Drinks
Have you ever felt you needed to take a quick break, but were so engrossed in your work that you couldn’t pull yourself away? Many employees have worked through a lunch or dinner, but the effects of this continued practice are always more detrimental. When working at home, there can be even more of a tendency to get in the zone and forget about the little breaks, which help revive, because you’re all alone. No one is asking about lunch or heading to the break room. To fix this, consider stocking a mini-fridge with some on the go snacks to nourish as you check things off your list. It is absolutely necessary to have some break time to keep fresh and to stay productive, but this way you can avoid many of the distractions going into your household can trigger.
6) File Cabinet/Organization Tools
The home office worker will actually encounter more of a complete office model in their day to day operations, which can include the financial department, janitorial and HR. And, since these departments are all housed in the same room, organization becomes critical. Much of the home office work will be online in most cases, but a file cabinet is always a good idea for the home office. Even a half cabinet can store enough records for the typical employee. This kind of organization will also carry over for the rest of the work process.
7) Supportive Family
Last, but not least, a productive office has a supportive staff. For the home office, this means a family or significant other who see and respect the home office as a place of business and not just another part of the house. Consider setting business hours where members of your family know not to disturb you. This aspect is fostered through the culture of the organization and seeing this culture permeate through your employees. Make this a career that people choose and the positive attributes will speak for themselves.
The home office model is a definite component of the office of the future. As physical office space continues to adapt and technology improves, the natural progression towards employees’ tethered independence seems inevitable. As long as the work is being produced at a high level, there will always be a value attached to the home office. Foster this aspect of your culture now to reap the rewards in the future.