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15 ways a smart home office can boost productivity and wellness

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Working from your house in pajama pants may sound like the ultimate dream — but in practice, it can be difficult to create a home office that helps you be efficient, energized and healthy. Although remote work has plenty of benefits, there are also drawbacks, including feelings of isolation, increased cybersecurity risks and employee burnout.

Creating a space that both promotes productivity and wellness is key to keeping your performance and your mental health in check. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Smart home office tools let technology help you improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing while telecommuting. Here’s how.

 

Remote work and your health

Most people prefer remote work to traditional office work — nearly 66% of people working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue doing so. It’s easy to see why: Dialing in from home gives you more personal freedom and time to spend on non-work-related tasks. It also saves costs on gas, commutes, lunches, coffee runs and more.

Yet telecommuting also increases feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can be as deadly as smoking or obesity. If you’re a people person who loves brainstorming with team members or bonding at lunchtime, you may find an empty home office uninspiring. Even if you’re an introvert, you may find yourself surprised by how the alone time begins to affect you.

Here are some health benefits and drawbacks to remote work:

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Tips and tech for home office wellness

You spend approximately half of your waking hours at work. When you’re dialing in from home, this time spent in your home office as opposed to a bustling office can lead to feelings of isolation and burnout. These risks make optimizing your home office space for wellness essential to achieving peak performance.

Bringing positivity into your home office and prioritizing your physical health are two ways to practice self-care in your home office, and home wellness technology can help. Read on to learn more.

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1. Use digital frames to display art that inspires you

Art is scientifically proven to boost critical thinking while simultaneously reducing stress. Displaying pieces in your home office using digital frames allows you to swap out the images based on your desires by clicking a button — and with a little research, you can choose pieces that will motivate you to work harder.

Wondering what to display? Our piece on benefits of art in the home delves into arts impacts on our emotions. For example, photography improves attention, vintage art increases empathy, and family photographs are proven mood-boosters.

2. Create a biophilic space with a smart indoor garden

Biophilic design focuses on bringing the outdoors in to improve air quality and inspire creativity. If you don’t have a green thumb, live plants might feel like a lot of extra work. Smart indoor gardens take most of the effort out of growing plants at home, allowing you to click and grow rather than repot and water. Your plants will have all the water, light and nutrients they need to thrive, and you’ll reap the benefits of a thriving indoor oasis.

3. Clear the air with a smart air purifier

Like plants, air purifiers keep the air in your home fresh and pollutant-free. Stagnant air in the home may accumulate toxins such as dust, reducing the air quality in your home. A smart air purifier allows you to schedule cleaning days and monitor particle levels using a voice assistant.

4. Get your steps in with an under-desk elliptical

While you may think that no commute means more time for working out, remote work can quickly turn into a sedentary lifestyle if you’re not feeling motivated. Getting in your daily steps is a lot easier when you’re walking around an office, running errands and being more active in your community.

Smart fitness equipment can help you stay more active at home. An under-desk elliptical machine lets you walk in place while you work. Designed with ergonomic features and a quiet gliding motion, you can use it comfortably to burn calories on the clock.

5. Stay hydrated with a smart water bottle

Not drinking enough water can impede your ability to focus on tasks and make weight loss more difficult. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink your eight glasses a day, a smart water bottle can help. This device tracks the amount of water you’re drinking through sensor technology and sends reminders so you can hit your daily water intake goals. Other smart features include hydration statistics, temperature sensors and freshness monitoring.

Smart gadgets for remote work productivity

Just as important as being comfortable in your home office is being able to perform at work. While many employees are finding themselves struggling to log off at night while working from home, they’re also finding more distractions throughout the day. Use smart gadgets to keep your focus with these tips.

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6. Block out background sounds with noise cancelling headphones

Not all home offices are quiet sanctuaries. In fact, you may find that other family members, including children, are disrupting you as you try to focus. Neighborhood noises such as lawnmowers, delivery trucks and construction can also interrupt concentration or make their way into the background of a work call.

Enter noise cancelling headphones. Outfitted with active-noise cancellation (ANC) tech, these headphones stop low-frequency sounds before they reach your ear, allowing you to focus on work without background disruption.

7. Illuminate your work space with smart bulbs

Bad lighting can impact your productivity and comfort while working without you even realizing it. If natural light doesn’t pour into your home office from a nearby window, you can customize your office lighting with smart bulbs. This lighting method also lets you limit your energy use, since it requires 70 to 90 percent less energy than a traditional bulb.

Smart lighting connects to Wi-Fi or a bluetooth device, and can be controlled remotely or by a smart-home assistant. Some more expensive bulbs even have settings for study and precision to help you focus.

8. Digitize your notes with a smart pen

Do you still like to jot down meeting notes with pen and paper? Now, you can transfer your handwritten notes into digital files using a smart pen. Rather than having to type up notes after a meeting or a call, your pen will automatically capture and save your copy.

9. Cool down or warm up with a Wi-Fi thermostat

Another benefit of working from home is that you control the setting. Setting your thermostat correctly improves both comfort and productivity in the workplace, and a Wi-Fi thermostat makes adjusting both the temperature and humidity in your home office easy.

The“ideal” average temperature for workplaces is 71.64, but other factors play a role. For example, warm environments are better for creative thinking, whereas colder rooms help people focus during repetitive tasks.

10. Keep your coffee hot with a smart mug

It seems that everything can be a smart device these days, even your coffee mug. Smart mugs are chargeable, have their own app and keep your coffee at uniform heat. While this device may seem a little over-the-top, a warm cup of coffee or tea does wonders for productivity.

Tools for home office ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of how to fit a work environment to a person's needs to improve workplace safety, increase efficiency and raise morale. Engineers and designers apply ergonomics when creating desks, software and more.

When working remotely, applying ergonomic principles to your home office setup can help create a better functioning space. Here are some tips to get you started:

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11. Expand your view with dual monitors

Multitask more efficiently with dual monitors that let you view multiple windows at once. You can complete tasks quicker and view corresponding notes and documents simultaneously with this home office setup.

For best office ergonomics, place your monitors directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the monitors should be at or right below eye level so you don’t have to slouch to view your screen.

12. Purchase a standing desk

Beat inactivity with a standing desk. This office investment can help lower your risk of obesity, heart disease and neck pain. Even people who exercise regularly can experience negative health impacts from sitting all day.

Using a standing desk can also increase your productivity. According to WebMD, call center employees with standing desks were 45% more productive than those who sat the entire shift.

13. Stop eyestrain with smart-glasses

Eyeglasses have gone beyond 20/20 vision. Smart glasses are wearable computer glasses that improve vision and display useful information to the wearer, such as incoming calls and even your current health statistics.

For a cheaper alternative, you can opt for glasses that filter out the blue lights from computer screens, decreasing your exposure. This helps mitigate risks from too much screen time, such as ocular muscle fatigue. This type of eyestrain can greatly affect accuracy, productivity and comfort.

14. Prevent slouching with a smart posture trainer

Did you know that 80% of the population will experience back pain in their lifetime? A smart posture trainer uses biofeedback to improve your posture naturally. The trainer is a small adhesive that gently buzzes when your posture gets out of alignment so you know when to improve your slouched position.

15. Keep wrists from getting sore with a wireless keyboard and mouse

Wrist strain can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Minimize reaching and clicks by purchasing a wireless keyboard and mouse. Since these devices aren’t attached to the wall, they can move with you as you travel to areas around your desk. Mayo Clinic also recommends alternating hands you click with whenever possible and using keyboard shortcuts to reduce wrist injury.

Once you’ve got your home office set up with smart tools and digital gadgets, protect your big investments by updating your homeowners insurance policy. Some tech upgrades may even lower your policy, such as eco-friendly upgrades or security systems.

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Kristine Lee LinkedIn

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent and one of The Zebra’s in-house content strategists. With a background in copywriting, she covers the ins and outs of the home and car insurance industries. She has contributed to numerous publications focused on the nuances of insurance, including Automoblog, USInsuranceAgents.com, and BestCompany.com.