And other Working from Home Tips
Social distancing because of coronavirus has made working from home the new standard. According to a survey by Gartner over 40% of the workers now telecommuting will continue to stay at home “at least some of the time” after the pandemic passes. The survey found that three out of four company chief financial officers will move at least 20% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.
That non-ergonomic office chair and cheap desk were probably fine for those hour sessions catching up with personal email and social networking with friends and family. Noise distractions as neighbors mowed their lawn or dogs barked at joggers interrupt your concentration, but were essentially minor inconveniences.
But now that you’re making a living at home, explore our tips for productivity, best practices for home office work routines, equipment setup, and for home offices with windows, blocking out the distracting outside noises.
Working from Home? Tips for Productivity
Transitioning from the daily routine of reporting to work on time after the morning commute can actually be a bit more difficult than most new remote workers imagine.
Start with a reality check. After the initial feelings of freedom, reality sets in, and it is this: often working at home is more difficult. To stay productive, you need to create a realistic plan and a new routine. That routine includes the following.
Find the Remote Work “Groove”
The flexibility of working at home can be empowering, but it can also lead to disorganization and wasted effort. Gone are the structure and supervision of the traditional job. It takes more effort to stay focused, on track, and on schedule when you can take a break anytime you feel the urge.
So, part of that groove is to get into a routine for the remote workday, and do it immediately.
Get dressed. Working in pajamas and bathrobe may be the stereotype of the remote worker. It is, however, not the best practice. There’s something about getting dressed as part of a morning routine that makes the mind more mentally ready for the workday. In fact, dressing in casual, comfortable clothes has the psychological effect of moving the mind from “sleepy time” into work mode.
Make a task list. This means paying attention to the tasks and goals you need to complete each day and budgeting the time you need to spend on them. Look at that list when beginning the workday and return to it frequently.
The task list should include a schedule for times to check in with your boss and coworkers. Setting up specific times for answering questions and collaborating keeps everyone on the same page and helps structure the working day.
Include break times on the task list. Timeouts for lunch and stretching your legs and getting away from the unblinking eye of the computer screen helps you recharge, refocus and refuel. Review that list at the end of the day, evaluate your progress, and update the list for the next day.
Finally, list your end-of-workday routine. That could include tidying up your email inbox, organizing the top of the desk, and backing up all your work and — most importantly — shutting down your computer.
Leave the laptop stowed away in the home office and avoid the temptation to check on work details scheduled for the rest of the day. It is also a good idea to disable office email notifications on the cell phone for obvious reasons.
How to Set Up a Separate and Private Home Office
Now that you have your work routine set, think about privacy and the quality of your home office location and setup.
Designate a work space. It’s best to designate an organized workspace that creates a boundary between the work life and home life. So, finding the optimum office space could require a bit of creativity. Look for privacy or make your own with dividers or curtains. Consider the working and homework arrangements of other family members and choose your space and furniture appropriately.
Choose ergonomic equipment. If you want to be productive when working from home full-time, you need quality equipment. Stay away from the cheap stuff. The cheapest desk or a non-ergonomic office chair won’t save costs in the long run if they have to be replaced in two years, and they can strain your back, legs and neck.
How to Soundproof Your Home Office
Both exterior and interior noise combine to surround your office environment with unwanted noise.
A home office with a window is a mixed blessing. The natural light and views can help reduce the feeling of isolation, but windows can let in annoying and distracting exterior noises. Traffic, air conditioning units, lawn equipment and loud neighbors may have just been background noise before. However, they can quickly become major blocks to concentration and embarrassing interruptions to conference calls.
Home office doors allow sound from the interior of the house to penetrate what should be your office’s quiet environment. Kids, televisions, kitchen noises and phone conversations are common sources of interior noise.
Soundproofing Your Windows
Soundproof your windows with Sun & Sound window inserts to block those external noises. A soundproof window insert can block up to 75% of low-pitched noises and up to 95% of higher-pitched intrusions like bus brakes or the neighbor’s swimming pool pumps. Window inserts can both increase productivity as well as increase the comfort of your office by keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Sun & Sound doors and door treatments are designed to significantly reduce interior noise. Similar to our window inserts, doors and door treatments can block up to 75% of low-pitched noises and up to 95% of higher-pitched noise.
How Soundproof Home Office Windows Work
Soundproof window inserts are designed to block sound and reduce energy transfer.
There are three important elements to successful sound abatement: mass, air gap and seal.
To create sufficient mass, the laminated glass we use is made from two 1/8 inch thick pieces of annealed glass, held together by a flexible adhesive membrane, to form one solid piece of glass slightly more than 1/4 inch thick. The membrane keeps the glass from vibrating with sound waves. The weight of the glass helps absorb sound.
The two-inch air gap we prefer is a good rule of thumb when trying to stop sound that you find annoying. The bigger the gap, the more sound waves are trapped.
The tight seal of our soundproofing window inserts is important because sound can act like water, seeping through openings.
Together, the mass, air gap and seal, plus our expert installation of your soundproof window inserts, ensure that you can work from home without noisy distractions.
Soundproofing Your Doors
Sun & Sound doors and door treatments are designed to significantly reduce interior noise.
As mentioned, there are three important elements to successful sound abatement: mass, air gap and seal, but many door situations preclude creating an air gap. When that situation arises, we can overcome the lack of an air gap by increasing the mass and seal of the door. For example, most interior doors are “hollow core,” which means they are made of very thin “skins” over a cardboard interior matrix. As a result, sound passes right through them. We can increase the mass of your door, or replace your door with an appropriate door.
Interior doors are also missing a seal between the door and the door frame. Unlike exterior doors that must keep out the weather by employing weatherstripping, interior doors do not have weatherstripping or a way to easily add it. We can solve that problem as well.
Soundproofing Your Walls
Noise may also pass through your walls. Some exterior walls allow sound penetration, but virtually all interior walls allow sound to seep through from the adjacent room.
The solution follows the same rules of sound abatement: mass, plus air gap, plus seal equals less noise. But, like some interior doors, some wall setups don’t allow space to create an air gap. In these cases we solve the problem the same way: we increase mass.
The results are remarkable. In most cases, we’ve seen a 12 decibel reduction in noise as measured by a Class II meter.
Get a Soundproof Home Office Today
Learn how a soundproof home office (and bedrooms and living spaces) can make your house quieter, more peaceful and more productive. Contact our experts for a free estimate!