According to the US Census, in 2017 approximately 5.2% of workers in the US worked from home in the US, which is roughly 8-million people. That number is only expected to rise as companies continue to shift toward models that either employ large numbers of contract workers or forego the traditional office model altogether. This creates a unique set of challenges for a growing segment of our population. The quandary becomes, how does one maintain a sense of balance and a steady workflow while operating from a place meant for replenishment and wellbeing? In 2019, the answer lies in the integration of smart technology, which, quite simply, makes things easier, increasing productivity, thus maintaining your alignment at home.
A benefit of building your own workspace is that you are given ultimate control over the conditions you work in. When starting from scratch in building an at-home workspace, choose a room in your home where there is plenty of natural light. Begin with a blank, clean space, and start with a simple, chic desk and a comfortable chair arranged so your back is to a wall for grounding—a Feng Shui technique. This also provides a neutral background for video conferences, which is optimal.
Before you bring anything else into the room, focus on the most important invisible factor. Air quality. When optimized through proper filtration, air quality can revolutionize your health, cutting your chances of seasonal illnesses significantly. In your home office, the answer to this is Molekule, a sleek, modern, portable air purifier, designed to filter dust, dander, toxins, and more. Connected to your iPhone or Android, this must-have piece of smart technology offers the foundation for the perfect work environment. The addition of plants only enhances air quality and brings in elements of Biophilia, which is integral to our sense of wellbeing.
Now that you can breathe with ease, choose your room’s smart hub, which can be any of the mainstream versions. Although Sonos and Apple Home Pod are known for their incredible sound quality, right now, Amazon’s Echo Plusis leading the charge with seamless tech integration. Pair this hub with Amazon smart plugs, Amazon smart bulbs, and the ecobee smart thermostat, allowing you to maintain control over your surroundings with simple voice commands.
Smart curtains are rising in popularity and offer a high-tech way for you to make sure you get enough sunlight, but are able to block the sun and its damaging rays when necessary. The technology itself is built into the curtain rod, connected via Bluetooth to your smart devices, allowing you to raise or lower your shades with a click of a button or simple voice command. Ikea is launching a line this April, making this technology even more widely available. Choose these curtains in a neutral shade, and integrate them with the intent to lower them when direct sunlight becomes distracting or causes a glare for you or video conference attendees.
It is vital that your clients have a seamless experience while working with you while you’re in your home office. It is therefore vital to go the extra mile to integrate items into your workspace that optimize the experience of those interacting with you. Smart headphones that cancel out your background noise are a must, allowing you to hold a conference call freely without worrying your dog will chime in. The golden standard for sound quality and performance are the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds, but Apple AirPods are not far behind. You will also want a smart pencil that allows you to markup and send PDFs in real-time. The Apple Pencil still has the best reputation for its ability to capture minute details and maintain accuracy.
A window into what is happening in and around the rest of your home while you work provides the best opportunity for you to work uninterrupted. With security technology like Nest, Ring, or even ADT’s smart security system, you can check the perimeter of your home, set or deactivate your alarm, and even speak to someone at your door while remaining at your desk. This is especially helpful for those who receive several packages daily as you can monitor your deliveries.
To combine high-tech, up-to-the-minute technology with ancient wisdom, be sure to read this past post about the benefits of Feng Shui in the workplace. The most important thing to recognize is the power of a clutter-free environment. Work to maintain a comfortable, well-organized environment, wherein your eyeline is free of piles of paper and stacks of books. Physical clutter often causes anxiety, so you must work to control this at all costs.
Additionally, add crystals like amazonite for communication, citrine for success, and Tiger’s Eye for confident decision-making. Add aromatherapy and keep lavender oil on-hand for anxiety, lemon oil for mood-lifting properties, and eucalyptus oil for energy. You may even keep all of these on a simple healing tray, like this Horchow marble tray, nestled on your desk or a bookshelf. This steady marriage of old and new in your home office guarantees that productivity and alignment can and will be achieved.
Finally, an optimized workplace needs sleep support. Short naps are an effective and healthy means for improving mental and physical acuity, even more than caffeine, which can disrupt sleep. Add a couch, cushioned rolled mat, fully-reclining chair, or even a hammock if you have space. Plan at least one 20-minute nap per workday, unless your body asks for more.
Smart technology offers us the ability to outsource our thinking about the small, simple things that build up and cause traffic in our minds. With the ability to set timers on everything from your air purifier to your smart curtains, you no longer need to think about your surroundings, as they modify themselves based on predetermined settings. I suggest setting reminders on your smart hub to get up, stretch, and even eat lunch to avoid the risk of overdoing it with work. In so doing, you are allowing your surroundings to take care of you. It is from this space, cradled in the caring arms of your home, that you will gain ultimate abundance through work.
Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.