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Many companies have transitioned to fully allowing employees to work from both home and from the office if they choose. This model has become more popular partly because employees like the flexibility of staying home, but they also like the option to switch up their space and mingle with coworkers. People like alternating their workplace environments because it can make the workweek seem less monotonous and refreshes a stale routine. Some say it boosts creativity, productivity and overall quality of life.
However, not all of us have the luxury of switching between a home workspace and the office. Some of us are in a different city or state than our home office. Whether you work a fully remote job or are required to go into the office much of the time, it’s still possible to reap the benefits of changing up your remote workspace anyway.
Here are seven tips for changing the space around you so you can make the most out of that remote work life.
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Plan on working somewhere in public at least one time per week. You can work at a cafe, sit in a park or go to a friend’s house. You’d be surprised how refreshing it is to step out of the office and respond to emails over a drink at a nearby cafe. Block off one afternoon from Zoom meetings per week to work out of the house or office and experience a nice change of pace.
Keep in mind you’re not the only one who wants to get out of the house during work hours. Offer to schedule a meeting at a coworking space or your favorite lunch spot, and your coworkers might welcome an excuse to change their workspace too.
Even if you have a comfortable space, perhaps nothing can be more draining than sitting at the same desk for nine hours straight. If you can, move around your place to add a dash of energy throughout your day. If you don’t have time to walk to a coffee shop, you can still move around your home or apartment. Get an exercise bike and pedal away when you can.
Create multiple working areas within your home, like the kitchen counter, the couch, or the porch or balcony if you have one. This might not be possible for everyone, but if you have the flexibility to relocate your workspace throughout the day, you will be glad you made the effort to switch it up.
If you don’t have many options for moving around while working (perhaps your set up is too difficult to move or your apartment is small), try placing new items in your workplace to change the vibe.
Lighting a candle, for example, can change the feeling of the space without actually moving to a different spot. The same goes with using a lamp — or even better, a sun lamp — in your workspace. Other items that bring you joy, such as photos, plants or pieces of art can help improve the setting of your work area if you can’t actually relocate.
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Even if your work isn’t conducive to socializing, putting yourself in proximity to others can be beneficial to productivity and wellbeing. Studies show that having friends at work improves productivity. Solidarity while working helps you feel supported throughout the day, and friends can provide small breaks that will break up a tired routine.
If you work from home and live with other people, you can sit in a common area and work alongside roommates, significant others or family. You can also schedule time to work at a friend’s house just to have some company. This social contact will help keep you motivated throughout the day and provide an added bonus of forcing you out of your usual workspace.
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This may sound like common sense, but working near a window is beneficial for your mental health and productivity. It might not be possible for everyone, but if you have the option, don’t pass up an opportunity to work by a source of natural light. At least one study shows that people who work near natural light are more productive. Spending time near a window is also helpful because it’s mentally stimulating to see outside activity happening around you.
It’s also good for your mental health to be aware of the time of day, which helps with energy regulation. Getting fresh air into your workspace helps also, so crack the window from time to time to get new energy flowing in your space.
Staring at your screen for too long can seriously impact your eyesight. For every 20 minutes you look at your screen, the American Optometric Association recommends looking 20 feet in the distance for 20 seconds. This reduces eye strain, and also gives you a chance to pause and change gears throughout the day.
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Although sometimes it might feel like it, your company won’t collapse if you step out for a 10- or 15-minute break. A quick walk outside can work miracles for your mental health and seriously boost your mood. It’s okay to pause and go outside from time to time to space out your work day and switch up your environment. Regardless of if you are working in person or from home, it is a good idea to take a walk outside at some point during the day to get your blood flowing and have a change of scenery.
No matter your work scenario, you only need to try some simple steps to change the space around you and reap the mental health benefits. A few moments is really all you need to boost your mood and help keep you feeling balanced and grounded throughout even a packed work day.
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