These small changes in your desk setup will greatly (and gently) increase your productivity and make you feel comfortable when working from home.

1. Set the right room temperature

In a study conducted at Cornell University, workers' typing errors dropped by 44% when their office temperature was raised from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20° to 25° Celsius). The participants were also able to type 150% more in that environment.

While the study doesn't account for individual preferences, try adjusting the temperature of your home office to see how it impacts your attitude.

Dyson Cool fans project a stream of smooth air for personal cooling. And since they don't have fast spinning blades, they are both safe and easy to clean.
Since Dyson Cool fans, projecting a stream of smooth air for personal cooling, don't have fast-spinning blades, they are both safe and easy to clean. Photo by Annie Spratt

Even if you can't control the temperature in the home office for some reason, you can always just take on your jacket if it's too cold in there, or get a desk fan if it's too hot.

2. Adjust the lighting

The quality of lighting in your home office hugely affects not only the mood but also the well-being.

Poor lighting, whether lit's low-quality dim lights or harsh overhead fluorescent fixtures, can cause stress, fatigue, and eye strain.

The best kind of lighting you can have in your home office is natural light. It reduces anxiety and enhances concentration.

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that workers exposed to more light during the day slept better at night. Furthermore, these workers tended to exercise more than those whose offices didn't have windows.

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With these proven decor tricks, you can turn even the darkest, tiniest of spaces into a lovely home office that looks big and well-lit.

It is important to make sure light sources are positioned correctly. There should be bright enough to work comfortably, but not too bright that you have to squint, or that it causes unwanted glare on your screen.

For this reason, try to avoid sitting with your back to a window (unless you can shade it), and do not sit facing one either as it'll be difficult to read a monitor in that case.

An ergonomic home workstation
A custom-made home base for the most frequently used items keeps everything neatly in place. Correct near-window desk positioning and various lighting scenarios take care of the rest. Photo by Jeff Sheldon

We need light to maintain our internal “clocks” or circadian rhythms, as well as our brain's release of serotonin, a hormone that makes us feel calm and focused.

So, if you can't place your desk near a window and don't have control over lighting at your workstation, try getting outside more during your breaks and consider using a daylight desk lamp. And while using a task lamp at your desk, ensure that the bottom of the lampshade is at the height of your chin when it is on.

3. Pick the right colour

To set its products apart from the crowd, Apple uses white as a primary branding colour that conveys a sense of transparency, balance, and cleanliness. McDonald's boosts our appetites with red and yellow, while Starbucks uses green to instil a sense of calm and motivate us to chill in their coffee shops.

Similarly, the home office colours influence our workdays.

Keep the following colour meanings in mind when choosing paint and desk accessories for your home office.

The young woman in her a home office
Be careful while picking the right colour for your working-from-home setup as even the neutral tones, often considered “the safest”, can hurt your productivity. Photo by Jan Baborák
  • Grey is often considered neutral on a psychological level, but it can also be tiresome unless the right shade is used.
  • Black is bold and sophisticated but can appear heavy in certain spaces.
  • Brown is solid colour for a home office, it's warmer than black and feels more supportive than surgery-like white.
  • Blue stimulates concentration and boosts communication skills but some people may find it too cold and dull.
  • Yellow is energising and uplifting in general but the wrong shade can make you feel anxious.
  • Green is a balancing and soothing colour but it can also be perceived as boring depending on how it is applied.
  • Orange can be stimulating and fun, but too much of it can be overwhelming.
  • Pink in moderate amounts is soothing.
  • Violet encourages contemplation but too much of it could lead to excessive introspection.
  • Red is energising and warming to the point where it can be perceived as aggressive.

4. Add some plants

Just a plant or two in your home office can significantly improve your productivity and joyful mood.

3 scientific proofs that plants make great WFH companions:

  1. The Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Cornell University's joint study has revealed that indoor plants reduce fatigue when working on attention-demanding tasks.
  2. Psychologists at Exeter University have found that “office workers” quality of life can be enriched by office landscaping that involves the use of plants that have no formal work-related function”. Based on this research, plants can help you increase your productivity by up to 15%.
  3. Having a window view of live greenery can be restorative, help us concentrate and stay focused for a longer period of time.

If you're after low-maintenance plants consider getting a peace lily (Spathiphyllum) that's almost unkillable. Not only does it survive little sunlight and very occasional watering, but it also cleans the air. A weekly reviving of your plant would also provide that much-needed sense of accomplishment.

5. Choose your ideal WFH soundtrack

Whether we are at the office or working from home, we always have to deal with some kind of noise, be it colleagues' chatting, traffic sounds, or neighbour's dog barking.

But is noise always bad for concentration? Apparently, quite the opposite.

A study published by the Journal of Consumer Research has found that a moderate level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and boosts your routine.

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Even if you always thought that background noise couldn't give you anything but distraction, try to pair the noise-cancelling headphones with soothing airports sounds from Listen to the Cloud, coffeehouse-like chatter from Coffitivity or just your favourite video game soundtrack. It can be surprisingly rewarding.

6. Find the right scent for a home office

Don't fall into the trap of ignoring scents when designing your home office since they can be a powerful way to promote productivity, boost creativity, and maintain calmness.

A carefully selected scent can create conditions for transitioning into a work mindset that is especially useful when you are working from home.

Read on to discover which scents can help you perform better, solve problems more effectively, and reduce anxiety.

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