A 2021 Mercer survey reported that 87% of life science companies were planning to offer part-time remote working models in the future. In 2022, remote working opportunities across the industry are continuously rising, with companies such as IQVIA, Worldwide Clinical Trials and Syneos Health advertising homeworking roles across the globe.
Whether you’re working from home on a part-time or full-time basis, your work from home setup will have a substantial impact on your physical and mental wellbeing as well as your job productivity and motivation.
To make homeworking work for you, we’ve outlined 12 things you can do to optimise your work from home space, including both big and small changes you make to get the most out of your remote life science job…
Reflect on Your Previous Workplace Setups
First, start by making a list of the things you didn’t like about your previous workplace setups. This could be anything from the colour of the room to the storage under your desk. If you aren’t happy with your current setup but aren’t sure why, this will help to identify areas of improvement.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
If you can, create a dedicated workspace in your home that isn’t already being used for something else. This will help you to switch off after work and will help when it comes to taking breaks and not working too many extra hours. If you don’t set physical boundaries between your work and your home life, you’ll never feel fully switched off.
If you don’t have a free space to work in, try to pick somewhere to work that isn’t going to take over your personal space too much. For example, work in the room that you use the least, or find a space that’s hidden from view when you’re relaxing on the sofa in the evening.
Ensure Your Workspace is Well Lit
If you can, make sure your setup is somewhere that gets plenty of natural light, ideally near a window that you can look out of to help you feel less cooped up. Natural light has also been found to reduce eye strain by 51%, drowsiness by 56%, and headaches by 63%, so it’s great for your physical wellbeing too.
If you can’t set up your desk near a window, make sure you have your own light source nearby. Having a desk lamp can reduce the likeliness of headaches and tired eyes often caused by relying on the main light in the room.
Personalise Your Space
To motivate yourself to work at home, create a space that you want to be in every day. If you have a busy home, this can be a space that’s entirely yours, with some of your favourite things surrounding you.
Adding some greenery to your desk can have more benefits than just making your space brighter. Studies have found that workspaces with plants can reduce employee anxiety by as much as 37% and feelings of depression by 58%, especially important for homeworkers who may be more likely to report feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Keep Your Space Minimal and Functional
Although your desk should be decorated to suit you, it also needs to be functional. Try to keep the space clear from too much clutter and give yourself plenty of storage solutions so you can tidy away things like to do lists and post it notes at the end of the day.
A good habit to get into is to tidy your desk at the end of each day, and to make an effort to give it a clean every week at least, perhaps on a Friday to mark the end of the working week. This means you’ll always be starting work with a clean and tidy space around you.
Get Creative with Colour
If you’re tight on space and can’t change your physical set up, think about decorating the space around you, for example, by painting the walls around your desk a different colour. Not only would this help to separate your workspace from the rest of your home, but certain colours can also influence how you think and work.
Workspace Design & Build recommend restful colours such as blue and green for an office colour scheme. Blue has been found to promote thinking, creativity and focus, whilst green is associated with tranquillity and relaxation. Green has also been found to reduce anxiety and even eyestrain from staring at screens.
Don’t Keep Yourself Cooped Up
If you can, sit in a room that has a window and keep it open for a good proportion of the day. Giving yourself fresh air is not only good for your health, but it can also help you stay alert at work, with an open window also providing some background noise and a connection the outside world.
Although your space should be functional, it also needs to work for your physical health. Look after your health by paying attention to:
- Screen position: to prevent neck pain and eye strain, ensure your screen is around one arm’s length away and that the top of your monitor is in line with your eyes
- Keyboard and mouse position: keep your keyboard and mouse within close reach, ensuring your forearms can rest on the desk and that your shoulders remain relaxed
- Foot position: if you can’t comfortably place your feet flat on the floor, you may need a footrest
If you can, invest in a comfortable office chair rather than sitting on a hard surface such as a dining chair. The chair you choose doesn’t have to be the most expensive; if it’s comfortable and adjustable, you’ll be able to make it work for you.
Keep the Rest of Your House Tidy
When taking regular breaks away from your desk, you’ll likely spend at least a few minutes walking around your home, whether this is to refill your drink or grab some fresh air. If you want to fully switch off for a few minutes, having a cluttered space around your desk can disrupt this.
Having an entirely tidy home 24/7 is unrealistic, so instead focus on the spaces you use the most to unwind for work.
Give Yourself Things to do During Breaks
Taking regular breaks is no good if you use this time to scroll through your phone. Encourage yourself to take breaks away from all screens by giving yourself something to do. For example, you might want to save some washing that you can put on, or dishes that you can put away. Completing these tasks can also give you a sense of accomplishment and help you to stay motivated at work, whilst ensuring you have a tidy space to return to once you’ve finished.
Try Out Different Virtual Backgrounds
If you can’t find a dedicated space in your home to work, or if you can’t find a space that’s clear of clutter, get creative with the backgrounds you use on video calls. Choosing a background showing a clean office space won’t just make you appear more professional, but it will also help you to escape to somewhere else for an hour or so.
Homeworking is Here to Stay…
Whether you work in Clinical Research, Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals or Medical Devices, homeworking is here to stay, so taking the time to make your work from home set up right for you is important, even if you only work from home once or twice a week.
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