By David Nield for Popular Science
With a changing economy, more flexible job roles, and the continued spread of broadband internet, more and more of us are working from home. According to the most recent statistics, more than 5% of the U.S. workforce spends at least part of their office hours at home.
While this habit lets us avoid the stress of commuting and spend all day in sweatpants, the consequences aren’t all positive. With so many distractions at home, and no manager looming nearby, productivity can take a hit. To avoid this, we rounded up some apps and tools to help you stay on task. Include some of these in your home office setup to raise your productivity and motivation levels.
Play background noise
If you work best with a constant murmur in the background, you’ll find plenty of white-noise apps to provide that hum.
Pick the noises you want to hear, and the relative volumes you’d like them to play at. Preset soundscapes are designed to help with relaxation or productivity, helping to optimise your brainwaves to improve your cognitive function, helping you focus, relax, or drift off to sleep.
Track your time
Where does all the time go? With no boss around to check when you start work or take a break (or three), your routine can quickly stagnate. That’s why you need an app to help you keep track of how you’re spending your time.
Cut out distractions
At home, you’re surrounded by temptations like your snack-filled kitchen, potential Netflix binges, and, of course, the ever-present siren song of your smartphone. You need help tuning out these distractions in order to stay on track.
Include some break time
All work and no play is a recipe for burnout: If you don’t take the odd breather, your productivity will experience diminishing returns. You should take five minutes of rest for every 25 minutes of work, and you can also adjust these parameters to split your time differently.
You should use those break minutes to refresh your brain. If you’d prefer distraction to meditation, why not rest your eyes while listening to a podcast?
Even when you’re not in the office, you need to stay in touch with your colleagues. So apps that connect you with other members of your team are an essential part of working from home.
Improve your workspace
Besides the apps we’ve mentioned, you can also modify your physical home-office setup. A more comfortable working situation will make you more productive—and less vulnerable to distractions.
For your comfort and your health, you should make sure your chair and desk help you sit without straining your body. For example, keep your screen at eye level to avoid damaging your neck and back.
Consider building a custom computer desk designed to help you sit ergonomically.
In addition to your computer, you probably have a few other gadgets on that desk. You’ll want to keep them all charged to make sure a dead battery doesn’t make you miss a call from the boss.
Finally, illuminating your workspace is essential for both staying focused and reducing strain on your eyes. You can pick any lamp that fits your tastes and needs.
Source: Business Matters
Employees needed 42 hours each to familiarise themselves with their latest software with nearly three quarters of office workers are using photocopiers and nearly half still using fax machines proves paper-reliant office is far from dead.
According to new research from serviced office specialist Workthere, the average UK worker is wasting 50 hours a year as a result of failing technology in the office, which Workthere estimates could result in an £11 billion loss for UK businesses, based on employment data from the ONS.
In particular, the next generation of office workers, those aged between 16 and 24, struggle most with outdated tech, wasting 62 per cent more time every week on inefficient technology compared to their colleagues that are aged 55 or over.
The survey of UK office workers, commissioned by Workthere and carried out by independent research company CensusWide, also found that it took around 42 working hours for an individual office employee to fully familiarise themselves with each new piece of software, which Workthere estimates equals around £830 worth of a professional employee’s time.
With businesses having introduced an average of four pieces of new software over the past three years, 45 per cent of workers claim that despite their employers’ investment in new technology, they don’t invest enough time into training staff to use it properly.
Cal Lee, founder of Workthere, commented: “With regards to the serviced office market in particular, the first thing we are asked about, after the cost, is what specification of technology will be available for a business to use. The office tech inventory can affect profits as well as play a vital role in the perception of a business, both internally and externally. Gone are the days of just ‘location, location, location’ – in the eyes of office workers, digital connectivity tops the list of innovations that will improve the office working experience in the next few years.”
Workthere found that office technology can have a direct impact on employee performance and efficiency, with many employees believing that their company’s investment into its office technology is linked to its investment into staff welfare and how it conducts business. The survey results showed that almost half of respondents said a business with cheap office technology is probably not going to invest in the wellbeing of its staff.
In addition, 24 per cent indicated that they wouldn’t be prepared to do business with companies that do not have the most up-to-date office technology.
While the research shows that the paper-reliant office is far from dead, with 73 per cent of office workers using photocopiers and 42 per cent fax machines, it also shows that 42 per cent of respondents use cloud technology for file sharing and 36 per cent have video conferencing capabilities.
Lee continues: “The digital revolution is clearly taking a firm grip of office spaces. We found that connected technology is by far the number one technology that office workers deem most useful to improve the way they work in the next five years, with voice activated tech and wireless charging pads taking spot two and three respectively.
“Whilst different businesses will have different priorities, office tech that works efficiently and improves productivity without proving a distraction, or making staff anxious about using it, is definitely high on the agenda for both staff and employers. It is therefore increasingly important for businesses to know that their office spaces are able to facilitate a smooth tech experience.”
Source: Business Matters