Working from your home office is a great way to have a little more control over your professional life. That said, it may not always be plain sailing. Just because you’re not surrounded by traditional office elements doesn’t mean you might not be subjected to occasional workplace ailments. Among the most common of these is stress.
Stress can be a disruptive and destructive influence. The good news is that there are things you can do to mitigate it. With some consideration and mindful adjustments, you can make choices that provide you with a stress-free home office environment.
So, why should you create a stress-free home office environment? Well, for starters it makes for a more comfortable and positive experience. In addition, stress is known to impact workplace safety. When people are exposed to a lot of pressure, this tends to affect their decision-making, which can lead to accidents. Stress also presents significant distractions, which can disrupt both your well-being and your productivity.
In many ways, though, stress is a quite individual experience. Yes, there are common factors, but these don’t apply to everyone all of the time. The best place to start is by recognizing what your personal stress influences and impacts are. Use your experiences not just of home working but also your history in traditional workplaces. What triggered challenges and how did these affect both your professional and home life?
Formalize these in a working document. In fact, creating a flow diagram that links the outcomes of stress to their causes can give you a greater sense of clarity. Occasionally revisit the list to make additions that you discover as you spend more time in your home office environment. This gives you some solid data to build on. With information on your experience of stress, you can adopt the most relevant resources for your home office. Not to mention that it can motivate you to keep making improvements.
Working from home can be a convenient way to navigate your career alongside your personal duties. That said, when the lines between work and home become blurred, this can be a recipe for stress. You may find yourself gradually working longer hours, which affects your work-life balance. Similarly, distractions from your family can disrupt your productivity, causing you to stay longer in the office.
Your home office in itself can be a good tool for maintaining solid boundaries. Having a wall between you and your distractions can prevent them from disrupting you. Choose a room where you can shut the door to maintain a little privacy while working. Make sure you communicate with your family about this boundary, too. They should know that when you’re in that room, you’re only available on urgent matters. Importantly, make your office a place that you can easily leave behind at the end of each working day. Lock the door if it helps, so you’re not re-entering unless absolutely necessary.
You should extend this approach to the equipment in your home office. Consider outfitting your space with a separate laptop or desktop computer. This means you’re not exposed to work elements when conducting your personal duties and vice-versa. Leave your work phone in the office when you leave, so you’re not answering business emails and calls.
Some of the most stressful aspects of a home office can be the atmospheric elements. Sounds, sights, physical sensations, and even smells can be disruptive. At best, these are distractions that interrupt your tasks. At worst, they can put unreasonable pressure on you while you’re attempting to navigate your other workplace challenges. Therefore, you should aim to reduce stressful stigma.
One common issue with home offices is sound. If you live in a city with a lot of traffic noise or have rambunctious neighbors, you should take noise reduction steps. The methods sometimes depend on the space itself. For instance, soundproofing a garage home office will start with hanging soundproofing material on the door and minimizing gaps around the edges. It’s also wise to install insulation on the walls and ceilings to absorb noise. If your office has windows, make certain to seal any gaps and hang multi-layered curtains.
You may also find that light is a stressful stigma for you. It’s not unusual to find that harsh office lighting influences your mood. Prioritizing natural light may reduce the stress caused by fluorescent and other office-style lamps. Keep curtains open wherever practical and consider installing a skylight.
Don’t overlook the influence of temperature, either. Although it is wise to keep your household bills down, having sufficient warmth in the winter and air conditioning in the summer can make a difference to your comfort levels. If you’re not comfortable, you may find this causes or exacerbates stressful experiences.
It’s important for your mental wellness and your productivity to make your home office a stress-free environment. Get to know what your specific challenges are and adjust your space to address these. Remember, though, that your environment isn’t a silver bullet against stress. You’ll also need to regularly assess your working practices to holistically reduce the negative impact of workplace pressure.
Author Bio: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, business, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
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