In a new study by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 5.2 million Americans are currently telecommuting. The meteoric rise in technology, combined with rising overheads for brick and mortar and astronomical gas prices, have created the “perfect storm” for a telecommuting society in the 21st century.
More employers—even those who resisted the trend until recently—are setting up offices in employees’ homes and realizing the cost savings of allowing them to telecommute, at least part time. By 2016, the number of people working from home is expected to rise by 69 percent, according to the NRDC study.
Time management and productivity expert Laura Stack addresses the perils of skipping the nuts and bolts of setting up the home office space in her newest entry to The Productivity Pro, an online newsletter that addresses time management and productivity trends in the 21st century.
Stack says that whenever an individual makes the change to working from home, the key to success is creating a productive home office environment.
“The first mistake new telecommuters make is setting up shop in one of their home’s cozy, comfortable spots, tossing aside everything learned about ergonomics in the office,” she says. “After a week of unnatural posturing at the breakfast nook, the back starts to ache, hands and feet go numb, and productivity plummets.
“Bite the bullet and buy good, solid office furniture of the appropriate types,” Stack says. “ Use a wrist pad to keep your typing and mousing hands straight, so you don't fall prey to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; make sure you have sufficient lighting coming from above; and supply all cordage with surge protectors just in case.”
Stack says that some organizations have written policies requiring specific types of ergonomic furniture in the home office, as well as specifics on where and how it should be set up. Stack recommends setting up in a clean, spacious, well-defined and distraction-free workspace that offers good ventilation.
“If space is a problem, at least ensure you have a door you can close to place a boundary between work life and home life,” she says. “Don't set up in the kitchen, your living room, or the master bedroom, though an unused spare bedroom or dining room can work well.”
Stack also recommends having plenty of room for all furniture, electronics, files, and supplies, so there is no need to run back and forth to find work-related items.
“You want to make your home office as comfortable and convenient as possible, so you can more easily maximize your personal productivity,” Stack says. “Just be sure to define your work space and don’t give in to the temptation to carry your laptop from room to room. Going to an established home office should be a reminder that you’re there to work, just as the drive to your old office used to be.
For more information on setting up a productive home office, visit TheProductivityPro.com or send an Email to Laura[.]TheProductivityPro.com, or call (303) 471-7401.
About Laura Stack
Laura Stack is a time management and productivity expert who has been speaking and writing about human potential and peak performance since 1992. She has implemented employee productivity improvement programs at Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, UBS, Aramark, and Bank of America. Stack presents keynotes and seminars internationally for leaders, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professional services firms on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in the workplace.
The president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management firm specializing in high-stress environments, Stack is the bestselling author of five books: “SuperCompetent” (2010); “The Exhaustion Cure” (2008),“Find More Time” (2006),“Leave the Office Earlier” (2004), and “What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do” (scheduled for release in June 2012). The 2011-2012 President of the National Speakers Association and recipient of the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, Stack has served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, 3M, Xerox, and Office Depot, and is the creator of The Productivity Pro® planner by Day-Timer. Widely regarded as one of the leading experts in the field of employee productivity and workplace issues, Stack has been featured nationally on the CBS Early Show, CNN, and in USA Today and the New York Times.