Written By: Andy Ogg, CTIE, Editor and Marketing Director – Travel Professional NEWS®
When a New Year commences, an opportunity arises to start fresh. Whether it is a goal for better health, increased success or a change of a habit, the fresh feeling of a New Year can be a fantastic time to look at yourself, from an outside point of view.
As a Travel Professional, you may be running your business from your home, remote office or even out adventuring the globe. No matter the setting, your workspace is crucial to the success of your business and should be a focus to continued success.
After nearly 8 years of working from home, I have learned a lot about the importance of a productive home office. In recent years, the time I spend in this room increases and while a break is very nice at times, my office is a fantastic space that I throughly enjoy.
The road to my home office was not taken lightly and when we decided to purchase our current home, my office location and size was a high priority. We found our home and in all honesty, the house sold us but the office really clinched the deal. It offered space, away from the rest of the living spaces and bedrooms. It offered space for me to actually enjoy the room, without being cramped and constantly a mess. Lastly, it provided me a place to truly focus and cultivate work that I am proud of.
To say that I am a home office advocate would be an understatement to say the least. As 2020 commences, I’d like to share 5 Steps to a Better Work Environment at Home as a Travel Professional.
1. Tech. Tech. Tech.
While technology is constantly changing (and very hard to stay on top of), investing in your business with technology that not only works, but empowers you, is key. Having the “latest” gadgets is not the focus here but having technology that works for you is.
Whether it’s an investment into a new laptop or a new smartphone, the results will prove to empower your success, ease of use and will keep you ahead of the next updates that are sure to come from the tech industry. Purchasing an up to date device will not only speed up your processes on a day to day level but it also represents your investment in yourself and your business.
With websites, social media and applications taking up more bandwidth and data, it’s a good practice to stay with the times. Having these tech devices current with the times will allow you to respond more quickly, access new forms of interaction with clients and also express your professionalism with clients that you meet face to face.
While having the “latest” tech devices isn’t needed, being relevant is. Take a look at your devices and do a quick run down of any items that may be slowing you down in your work. If they require a work-around to accomplish a task, it’s time for an upgrade.
2. Comfort is Key.
This could not be more true, no matter where you are working from. A large desk, comfortable chair and up to date display will encourage your work to improve and flourish. Whether it’s a new desk, accessories or chair, never underestimate the power of a the best tools to complete your work.
For me, a new chair has done wonders in the past year and I would highly recommend looking into one for yourself. Not only has the modest investment made sitting for 3-4 hours much more tolerable, but it has alleviated some pretty substantial back and shoulder pain. If you were like me last year and using a 10 year old chair, it may be time for a change in 2020.
If you have the room, a couch or comfortable chair in your workspace can provide a fantastic addition. I managed to score a free couch from a friend moving out of state and while most of it’s use is for homeschool lessons with my kindergartner, I do find myself sitting down to contemplate the next phase of a project from time to time. When the time comes, the joy of having the option available has proved very nice to have.
In addition to the basics of a chair, desk and work space, think of the things that you enjoy. Whether it’s a small plant to bring fresh air into the room or even an improved layout of the space, tiny changes can bring big results.
3. Light it Up.
If you are working from home, lighting can be a challenge. Maybe the room doesn’t have an overhead light source or it may lack a window for natural light. Whatever the situation, having sufficient lighting in your workspace will offer you more concentrated focus and the ability to move and work with comfort.
Whether you need to invest in overhead lighting, desk lamps or even adding a window to your workspace, the investment in adequate lighting should not be overlooked.
In my home office, I choose to add some $20 LED lights to the back of my monitor. The lighting comes from behind the screen, lessening my eye fatigue and also adds a nice glow to the back of my desk, usually dark with shadow. The $20 investment has helped dramatically and I highly suggest reviewing your workspace for any improvements you can introduce to further improve your productivity and happiness while working.
4. The Tools you Need.
While in this digital age, the use of paper is becoming less and less frequent, it’s important to have the tools you need, when you need them. Printers were once an overwhelming investment but in 2020, you can purchase a top of the line home printer for under $100 with ease. The ability to print and send a note to a client returning from a vacation can provide a quick and timely advantage to those who do not take that extra step.
On top of a printer, review the other items around your workspace and ask yourself the question “Is this helping me grow my business?” Chances are that you will find many items from staplers, pens, organizers, calculator and so on that would benefit from a bit of a refresh. I’ve learned this lesson time and time again but “making” something work is NOT helping you do your best work. Invest in your success and give yourself every ability to succeed as a Travel Professional in 2020.
Working from home can be absolutely amazing some days and the most frustrating thing ever on others. Whether it’s interruptions, unplanned home chores, or visitors that interrupt your focus, it can be challenging. For myself, I have two little girls, 5 1/2 and 19 months, who are amazing but can often present disruptions throughout the work day. Whether it’s just wanting to stop by and say hi or help in getting a snack, the interruptions typically don’t bother me but occasionally, I just don’t have the time for anything other than work.
When the time comes for me to focus, I find music to be the best fit and I’ve found two methods that both prove very successful when needing to “disconnect” from the home and connect with the work.
Two years ago, I purchased a pair of Bluetooth headphones that are padded and go over your ear. Not only do they have a microphone, which allows me to record audio and take phone calls with them, but the sound and cordless freedom is amazing. When the workflow needs a bit of motivation, like the moment I type this, I choose some tunes, slide my headphones on and the focus just clicks.
In addition to the headphones, I purchased a decent speaker set up for my workspace which includes 2 speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers plug directly into my laptop, which resides under my desk on a shelf and are amazing. Not only does the sound of music improve your work experience, but it also can lead to creative thinking and efficiency.
In today’s times, an overwhelming library of music is at your fingertips with offerings like Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music. For a minimal fee, you can explore millions of artists and turn your work day into a fun adventure of discovery in auditory pleasure.
In addition to having some music playing, surrounding yourself with motivation is always a good practice. For me, I work for my family so my walls are reminders of my motivation. Photos of my wife and my kids surround my desk as well as a small pin board for my daughters to add their own creations to made a huge difference in my productivity. It’s hard to “give up” on a task when I look up and see my little girls faces and it makes me dig that much deeper to make it happen.
Working from home is amazing and challenging. Never think that it’s all amazing because just like anything in running a business, with every good, there is a not-so-good aspect. However, overcoming the unfavorable aspects of working from home can be easily managed by applying some or all of the topics covered in this article.
I hope that you find some creative ideas and helpful tips from this read and your work experience improves as a result. Cheers to you and for being a “At Home Warrior!”