The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated the world’s transition to remote work. Understandably, many business leaders are laser-focused on what tools and processes they should put in place to empower their workers to succeed while operating in a distributed environment. As we have written before tools, such as Slack, Zoom, and Affinity, for example—are certainly important. But many leaders often overlook the importance of the physical environment in fostering a healthy and productive work setting.
Here are five aspects of the physical work environment you should consider when working remotely. “Landscaping” your remote work setups can be a game-changer in enabling an effective remote work setup.
In all likelihood, your home temperature is different than the one you’re accustomed to at work. Don’t take your home’s temperature for granted. If it’s too warm or too cold, it’s time to take action. Research has shown that temperature has a big impact on productivity.
Spring is officially here and we’ll soon be privy to much warmer temperatures. It’s important not to let your office get too hot as this can cause heat stress, which impairs productivity. Don’t be so quick to blast the air conditioning though. If the temperature is too cold, research has shown that you’re likely to become preoccupied with staying warm and make more mistakes.
What’s the optimal temperature? A study by Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab determined that the optimal range for peak productivity is around 71.6°F. As many of us are just embarking on our transition to remote work, now is the perfect time to find what is right for you.
If you work from home one day a week your home office tools might not seem as important, but when the world went fully remote in March of 2020 people quickly realized their value. One of the most necessary is a quality of set of noise cancelling headphones especially if you are finding yourself having to work and homeschool.
Second, for those that are now fully invested in video conferencing, don't underestimate the importance of lighting. Ring lights can be cheaply set up by your computer and ensure that your face is not lost in the shadow.
Alternative monitors also become really important. A quick hack is to leverage Chromecast or Apple TV to turn your TV into an additional monitor. This is really helpful while on calls so your face does not need to be smushed up against the camera.
Many of us aren’t likely to embark on a full-fledged home renovation in order to accommodate remote work. But it’s worth noting that wall color can impact your productivity.
What color are the walls surrounding your remote work setup? Chances are high that you’re surrounded by gray or white walls. Research has shown that these colors lack energy and induce feelings of depression. These colors have also been found to cause workers to make more errors.
What’s the best wall color? Research has found that workers prefer a light blue-green wall color. Why? We associate blue with nature such as a clear sky or a serene body of water. Blue walls lead to feelings of peacefulness and a calming of the mind.
This doesn’t, of course, mean you need to adorn your walls with a new coat of paint. Instead, you can consider hanging some blue posters or paintings in your remote work environment.
Right now, your remote work environment might double as a bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. Unless cleanliness is prioritized, it’s easy to find yourself working amidst some funky smells.
Did you know that certain scents can promote productivity? A study by Takasago (Japan's largest fragrance producer) found that workers made fewer errors when exposed to scents of lemon (54% fewer), jasmine (33% fewer), and lavender (20% fewer). These scents tend to have calming effects that keep emotional stress in check.
Try adding some air fresheners or embracing aromatherapy as part of your remote work transition.
One of the most difficult parts about working remotely is brainstorming. If you’re struggling to get your creative juices flowing, try adding some peppermint scents to your workspace. Peppermint is a natural energy booster that invigorates the mind.
How many plants can you spot from your remote workspace?
Don’t underestimate the power of nature. Research has shown that adding plants to a work environment can increase attention capacity, as well as employee productivity by 15%. Plants supply oxygen to our brains, leaving us feeling more energized and alert. Plants also remove carbon dioxide in the air, which is especially important given high carbon dioxide levels can lead to drowsiness and impaired concentration.
In an in-office shared workplace, it can often be difficult to tailor your workspace to your individual preferences. Remote work landscaping allows you to sit in the driver’s seat and tailor your environment according to what’s right for you. At Affinity, we’re dedicated to building tools to enable you to be successful. But we don’t overlook the power of the physical environment. Small changes can make a big impact.