For many of us, home office is still the best (or only) option to remain productive in their job during the Corona crisis. It enables to work in a safe environment and therefore minimizes the infection risk. For some, it also is inevitable due to schools and childcare services still being closed. But how can we make it productive and even sustainable?
The pros and cons of home office
The biggest benefit of working in the home office surely is the commute: It usually takes only seconds from bed to desk! This saves us all a lot of time every day: On average, Germans commute almost 17 km to and from work every day , which sums up to more than an hour every day for most . So working from home provides us with a lot more free time. Also, it saves money if we don’t need to spend it on fuel or public transport. And we get to wear sweat pants all day, which is a really big plus for me!
But many are struggling to focus on their work at home: There are many distractions like the full dishwasher, that pile of paper work that you should have finished last week or for families surely the kids which need attention. This makes it sometimes incredible difficult to work when your attention is shared between all these things.
Furthermore, working from home breaks the psychological barrier that the commute created: All of a sudden, you are working inside your protected, safe environment that you call Home. Any troubles from work are there with you and are more difficult to shake off in the evening. Your roommates and family might experience you in a stressed mood during the day. I am struggling with this a lot whenever I am working on a difficult task, but there are ways to help with this:
How to create a successful work routine at home
As someone who already worked from home regularly before the COVID-19 situation, I learned that routines improve my work massively: They help me to focus on the tasks at hand while also enabling me to turn off work thoughts in the evening.
- For a home office day, put on clothes that you would also wear to the office (at least over the sweat pants!). This helps to remind yourself that you are working, not slacking off today.
- Create a work place for you which allows you to work as undisturbed as possible. If you don’t have a desk, this could be on the kitchen table or in the living room. Make sure never to work from the couch as this will surely make it difficult to focus.
- If you have trouble focusing, try working in limited time intervals: Work for 1-2 hours straight and then have a break to do something nice or do the chore that bothers you the most. Try to extend these work intervals to speed up productivity over time.
- If you don’t live on your own, let the others know when you can and when you should not be disturbed. This might be a closed door or headphones on your ears. Little distractions might be a nice gesture, but they will break your concentration. For my S.O. and me, this was a game changer once we started having home office days simultaneously.
- Once you are finished, don’t just close the laptop but leave the space where you worked. Create your own closing time routine! Mine involves going for a run, having a shower and putting on different sweat pants – my free time outfit basically.
How to make the home office sustainable
Skipping the commute is already great for the environment as most commuters drive or take public transport, both of which are rarely CO2-neutral. Still, there are things we can do to improve the eco footprint of our home office work:
- Make sure to use as much electronics as you need, but not more: For typical office work, a normal laptop is sufficient. While I also enjoy working on a bigger screen, I turn of the small internal screen of the laptop to save energy. PCs use a lot more energy than laptops and should be used for high performing tasks only, if you have an energy-saving alternative!
- Make sure to turn of all electronics in the evening, don’t leave them in standby mode! A power strip with a switch is a great way to ensure this.
- Improve the light situation around your desk: Good lighting is necessary for efficient work, but that does not mean the whole house needs to be illuminated. Make use of LED lights if you can.
- Optimize your heating: When working from home, you might not want to feel cold. But consider putting on warmer clothes before turning up the heating to save energy!
How is home office working for you? Are you having trouble finding a routine or do you enjoy the new-found free time?