March 19th 2020

Five rules for a successful and productive home office

Public facilities are closed, supermarket shelves are getting emptier, toilet paper is becoming a scarce commodity and now curfew is up for debate. Those who started out joking about hoarding purchases had better stop joking and actually check their supplies. The Coronavirus is now assuming proportions whose consequences none of us can estimate. Angela Merkel is calling for people to stay home, calling the current situation "one of the greatest challenges our government has faced since World War II."

Flights are cancelled and borders are closed. Many industries unfortunately suffering from the restriction of public life and transportation. Companies that can resort to digital operating structures are left with home office. To completely outsource the operational structures to home is a big challenge for many of us.

A study by the Düsseldorf-based market research institute moweb research GmbH found that 89% of all respondents are optimistic and believe that their work productivity will be maintained in home office.

Personally, I am ambivalent. On the one hand, home office certainly gives us the opportunity to adapt our working hours to our private lives and thus come a decisive step closer to the ideal of work-life balance. On the other hand, I also see the danger of distraction. The dog has to go out, you could turn on a washing machine or prepare lunch for the kids. The balancing act between housework and work from home proves to be rather difficult. I know this all too well.

Since becoming a father, I have had to reassess my home office in terms of rest, concentration and work performance and would like to share my hard-won "Golden Rules" with you here:

1. Get comfortable!

Your back hurts because of the slouching posture and your eyes hurt because of the glare of the screen. This doesn't have to be the case. Invest in an ergonomic office chair, computer glasses or comfortable room lighting. Make sure the environment is set so that your productivity is not disrupted. The only thing more comfortable than your home office should be your bed.

2. Declutter often and consistently!

The home office is your workplace, not a storage closet. This applies to your own stinker, who is too lazy to put away his empty coffee cup, as well as to your own children, who pile their toy collection on your desk. Working in a neat, structured atmosphere will help you maintain focus. 3. Make sure you have the best equipment and a quiet location!

Moving your home office into the kitchen while three rabid toddlers are screaming with hunger at noon waiting for their food doesn't seem like a very good idea. So does the basement room, where the Internet connection is the worst, you can't be reached by phone call, and on top of that, there's hardly any daylight shining in. Find a suitable room with appropriate equipment and quietness for your home office. If the room also has a lockable door for important appointments, that's perfect!

4. Speak plainly with the family members!

Working time is working time. It doesn't matter if it's from home or the office. Be it ringing neighbors, nagging kids or spontaneous visits from your friends - communicate your working hours clearly! Together with your family, create a structured daily schedule with time slots for meals, work hours, homeschooling, family activities, etc. and stick to it.

5. Please dress like an adult!

Routine is the name of the game in everyday and professional life. It doesn't matter if you are in a home office or an office. Get up at the same time and get ready for work as usual. Just because you're at home doesn't mean sweatpants are acceptable now.

I hope I was able to help you and inspire you a little bit. How you too can be successful and productive in your home office.

P.S.: I swear by to-do lists. Especially in the home office, the feeling of productivity - having accomplished something - is more important to keep you motivated. A successfully completed to-do list, as well as the accomplishment of the day's goals, lets you go into the family block feeling optimistic.

Herbert Höckel

Herbert Höckel is a managing partner here at moweb research GmbH. He has been a market researcher for more than 25 years. In 2004 he founded moweb GmbH, which he is still the owner today. moweb from Düsseldorf operates internationally and is one of the first German market research institutes specializing in digital processes.

You are welcome to purchase his book "Customer Centricity Mindset ® - Really Understand Customers, Master Disruption Successfully" here.

Your success, our goal!