Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy. According to researchers at Hampshire Trust Bank, the UK will play home to more than half a million small and micro businesses by 2020 and as the way we do business continues to evolve, an increasing number of those companies are being run from home offices. But working from home can be both a blessing and a curse.
Domestic distractions, a lack of interaction and a struggle to maintain a professional atmosphere can cripple productivity and make working in a home office incredibly difficult. But if you’re running your business from home and are worried about ending up going through the motions, don’t panic.
There are plenty of quick and affordable changes you can make to your home office and workspace to liven things up, keep you focused and achieve success. It’s also worth considering shared office space and exploring the ways in which virtual office services and external workspace could give your work life a major facelift.
But to help you get started at home, here are five things your workspace is missing (and how you can fix it):
Sometimes the simplest changes to your workspace will be the most effective and improving the lighting in your office can make a huge difference to your work. Over one-third of workers say they’re adversely affected by a lack of natural light in their office, and one in ten workers suffer from the unnecessary strain on their eyes because of a lack of light in the office.
Why does that matter?
Simply put, because natural light is scientifically proven to improve your mood, energy levels, focus and productivity. In 2013, a study conducted by Northwestern University in Chicago found that nine-to-five workers whose workspace is situated near a window enjoy a higher quality of life, are more relaxed at work and sleep better at night.
There’s a strong correlation between that quality of life and motivation while on the job and so the study concluded that better, natural lighting in the workplace made people work harder and they were happier while doing it.
So, take a look at your home office and think about where you spend the most time. Is your desk near a window? And more importantly, could it be? You might want to rearrange your workspace to maximise your exposure to natural light but if you aren’t able to move your desk near a window, or your office space doesn’t have any windows, you can still gain access to more adequate lighting.
Try swapping the light-bulbs in your lamps or light fixtures with blue-enriched bulbs, which are designed to reduce your fatigue and improve your overall well-being and work performance. These bulbs are great for collaborative or creative spaces where you might invite clients or customers to share their ideas. Meanwhile, warmer-toned bulbs are designed to help you keep calm and relaxed, and middle tones are meant to keep you alert in the office.
If you’re unable to get the lighting just right and are worried about the impression you may be giving clients or other businesses you’re hoping to collaborate with, don’t panic. You can always hire out meeting spaces or take on a serviced office with modern lighting and plenty of space designed to enhance your productivity. Find out more about our serviced office space in Glasgow.
If you work from home, you’re going to have a lot of smells brewing in your office. After all, you cook, eat and relax in that same space not to mention share them with pets, spouses, children and everything in between. But that combination of people and activities can potentially create a very unique concoction of smells. And the truth is, that concoction might not always be the most productive office scent.
Just like natural light, you can be powerfully affected by what you smell. Your mood, your frame of mind and your productivity levels can all be knocked off kilter or drastically enhanced by what you smell. In 2003, scientists found in a study that peppermint scents in the workplace drastically improved the net speed of workers ability to type, and also their ability to alphabetise and organise documents.
Peppermint isn’t the only scent that can enhance your home office experience, though. You can also try pine scents, which are supposed to increase your alertness. Cinnamon, on the other hand, is proven to enhance your overall focus. Lavender assists you in relaxing and unwinding after a long day working, and citrus is one of the best natural scents to help you wake up and get in the zone.
If you’re worried this means you’ve got to run out and spend hundreds of pounds on expensive, luxury candles, don’t sweat it. Candles, incense or essential oils can be fantastic additions to any home office. If you’re feeling a little bit more ambitious, you can even simmer spices and herbs on the hob in your kitchen, to fill your home office with fantastic and therapeutic aromas.
But you should also know that when it comes to scented office space, less can often be more. Nobody wants too much of a good thing, and if you overdo it with super strong candles burning nonstop, you could ultimately end up distracting yourself. Try soft, short bursts of scents to gauge how they affect your senses and your work experience then, go from there.
A change of scenery
One of the biggest disadvantages of working from home is that you’re often stuck staring at the same stretch of wall every day, all day. The monotony of that work experience can drastically affect your mood, attitude and focus. That’s why it’s incredibly important to shake things up regularly with a change of scenery.
If you work from a home office in a relatively small property, that might seem like a big ask. But you don’t need to go far to lift your spirits and trick your brain into thinking you’re someplace new. Even moving from your office desk to your kitchen table for a couple of hours will improve your work pace and efficiency. And if you don’t have enough space to swap rooms, even moving pictures to different walls every couple of days is proven to lift your spirits.
Another great way to switch things up is to take your laptop and get out of your office for the day. A quiet caf, local library or co-working space could give you a huge boost, and also help you get out there and meet people if you’re struggling in work isolation.
If you’re looking for serviced office space or meeting spaces that you can go to on a pay-as-you-go or short-term contract basis, you should also explore our wide range of business services available.
The natural world
At the end of the day, we’ve all got biological needs. Humans are vastly dependent on nature in ways that scientists can only partially explain, and so we are all deeply and adversely affected by our access to nature. Being in close proximity to nature is proven to enhance your psychological and physiological functionality which in turn can improve your productivity while working.
According to researchers at Human Spaces, office greenery can improve your wellbeing in the workplace by 6%, and your creativity by 15%. Likewise, a green injection to your home office could bolster your productivity by 15%.
So, how do you reconnect with nature while sitting at a desk?
If you’re near a window, try and keep something green there. Keep the window shades up, and let fresh air in whenever the weather allows. It’s also worth investing in a few cheap and easy to maintain office plants to keep on or near your desk. If that’s not an option, you can even make a commitment in your daily diary to get out for sporadic walks in a nearby park.
And in between walks, it’s even worth trying to change your desktop background to nature scenes. It’s a small price to pay for a boost in productivity and happiness.
If you’ve pulled out all the stops to set up a professional-looking home office, chances are you’ve got a landline desk phone. After all, its standard practice at almost every big company to give all workers a desktop phone and so a lot of small companies think they should replicate the practice. The truth is, getting rid of that phone can be a positive change.
Mobiles and smartphones are elemental to the ways in which modern-day entrepreneurs do business. Calls, video conferencing, emails, presentations, taxes can all be done on a phone, laptop or tablet. So, what is your desktop phone actually doing apart from taking up space?
In 2017, one of Canadas biggest accounting firms decided to make a statement by ditching landlines and desktop phones, and it forced workers to revaluate the way they communicated with one another and with clients. It pushed them to think outside the box and be more efficient in collaborating with one another.
UK companies are already following suit, and this push away from landlines has had a subsequent impact on the commercial landline market. In January, telecommunications giant EE announced that it would be permanently closing its EE Corporate Landline service in March 2018.
So, if you’d like to switch things up and emanate a more modern and technologically-savvy image to clients and customers, think minimal. Get rid of your desktop phone, cancel your landline and tell everybody exactly why you’re doing it. But just because you’d like to free your desk of archaic clutter doesn’t mean you need to completely forgo a dedicated landline.
We offer a range of affordable telephone answering packages that will see our highly-trained receptionists answer and forward phone calls being made to your business. This will ensure you’re able to maintain a professional public face to your clients and receive crucial calls without being tied down by an old-fashioned phone.
Find out about our telephone answering services and how they could enhance your business.
The bottom line
No two businesses are alike and so you’ll be hard-pressed to find two identical home offices. We all have our own quirks and needs, and those wants and needs should be reflected in our workspace. But you’ve got to balance home comforts with a professional working environment, which takes a bit of thought and tinkering.
If you’re struggling to maintain productivity in your home office, try improving your access to natural light. An injection of fresh scents and nature or plants is also scientifically proven to keep you focused and in a great mood while a simple change of scenery or losing your bulky desktop phone could make a huge difference to your success in the workplace.
It doesn’t take a huge change in any of these departments to see a difference, but it might be a case of trial and error. Find what works for you and your company and embrace those changes but don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, either.
And above all else, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Here at Blue Square Offices, we take immense pride in our modern and purpose-designed business centre and office accommodation space. Everything we do is done with efficiency and your wellbeing in mind and so if you want to chat about your home office or your workspace needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Our business is your success, and well do everything we can in to maximise your working experience.