Take it from the guy who has several co-working spaces in KL.
The Malaysian workforce is slowly warming up to the idea of employees working from home. This is an especially flexible option for working moms (and dads) as well as independent employees with tasks that can be executed remotely. Of course, the biggest worry of any employer is having employees who slack off while at home.
Through some research, we found that the number one killer of productivity stems from not having a dedicated workspace at home. Let’s face it, working in front of the living room TV is not going to help you get much done, while working on your comfortable bed will most likely lull you back to sleep. Distractions are much higher in a home setting – there’s no doubt about it. Timothy Tiah tells us: “The truth is, I don’t [bother about distractions at home.] I just accept lower productivity and work longer hours if I have to do something at home.”
As the founder of co-working space Colony, he understands what space can do to inspire productivity – it all comes from surrounding yourself with the right tools and removing temptations (bed, we are looking at you) from the equation. He shares with us his top five must-haves in his personal home office.
1. Ergonomic table and chair
Having to sit in a space for eight hours of work can be hard on your back if you’re not well-equipped with a table and chair that can ease the stress off your shoulders. Our tendency to hunch forward and lean too close to the screen can not only cause strain to our spine but also our eyes. Invest in a comfortable chair, get a laptop stand and perhaps even a wrist rest for to accompany the mouse. Also, ensure that your desk is at the right height for you. Let work be the only stress in the room.
2. Lightning-fast Internet connection
Working remotely means your only connection to the office is your WiFi. Getting the right amount of bandwidth for your type of work is important in this case. If you’re working with documents or writing, then a slower connection is fine. However, if you are dealing with social media, media content uploading (photos and videos) – a medium to higher speed will be required. Sometimes, the connection may fail you – be sure to bookmark a nearby cafe that has WiFi for emergencies.
Read more: 4 essentials for your home office
3. A quiet environment
When we say quiet, we mean no distractions from the TV, radio, or iPad. Keeping pets and children out of the room while you work is also essential to keeping your focus on tasks at hand. That said, the situation depends on your other commitments around the house. For example, begin work only after you have put your toddler down for a nap. Naturally, there are times where things will be out of our control – car alarms, construction drilling, neighbours, etc – and you’ll need to learn how to work your way around them.
“The reality is that I don’t work in my quiet space that often. Instead I work in our dining room. Why do I work there? Because it’s closer to where my kids are and I try to be around our kids whenever I’m home. It’s not the most productive place for sure, but I get to be around my kids. I hear them playing, laughing, and even fighting in the background.” – Timothy Tiah
4. Great ambient music
Wait, didn’t we just talk about having a quiet space? Yes, but dead silence isn’t that great for productivity either. There have been studies on music helping our brains focus on work or studies. Even Spotify has custom playlists named “Study Music for Concentration” and “Deep Focus” that has hours of meditative, calming music. Of course, you can go with whatever floats your boat.
5. Never work in your bedroom
No matter how focused we can be, it is not wise to work where you sleep. The temptation for you to crawl right under those warm, fluffy covers may just be your productivity’s undoing. It is also the most important factor in Tiah’s home office setup, “A good distance between the workplace and the bed [is a must]. It’s just impossible to work right next to your bed.”
There are many other factors that come into play when creating the perfect home office. Here are a few ideas we love:
- Choose a room that has lots of natural light
- Keep a few live plants in the room – they are both relaxing and purifies the air
- Decorate the room with inspiring images or items
- Get a portable essential oil diffuser if you want an additional layer of zen
- Keep everything neat and organised – it helps with productivity
Other than productivity at home, we also asked Tiah for his thoughts on the Malaysian work culture. Should more businesses include work-from-home days? “It depends on the work that we do. Many of our jobs still require a culture of teamwork and collaboration. In that case, working from home isn’t the best option. For me, a lot of my work is going out and talking to people, so I, unfortunately, I can’t work from home too much either.”
But of course, if you do work from home most of the time, it pays to have a productive set up for success!