Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic arrived on our shores, the way America works has changed drastically. According to one survey, the number of people working from home went up 17% since the beginning of the year with nearly half of all U.S. workers telecommuting more than five days per week. The advantages are numerous: a more flexible schedule, not having to spend hours commuting on the highway, and no more dressing up usually rank in the top three.

However, with all these advantages, there are also some drawbacks. In the same survey, workers experienced problems sticking to a routine while being constantly interrupted as they performed their daily tasks. Digging a little deeper, the root cause stems from the lack of a proper home office. So if you’re ready to upgrade from a dingy basement set up, here are five things you should consider to improve your concentration and increase your productivity.

  1. Privacy and separation

Let’s face it – it’s very easy to be distracted while working from home. Whether it’s grabbing a snack from the fridge or watching something on TV, it takes a great amount of self-discipline to stay focused on the task at hand. It’s also why choosing the right location for your home office is vital. Remember when discussing with your contractor the old saying “out of sight, out of mind.” If you have the space, make sure your office is as far away from these distractions as possible. And don’t forget about adding physical barriers (i.e. a door) that clearly separate your home life from your home office life.

  1. Reducing noise

Studies have shown that excessive noise not only dulls mental processes but also leads to fatigue. With a home office, not only are you battling the sounds on your street but also the noise generated by members of your household. As such, ask your contractor about what they can do in terms of installing sound absorbing materials whether they be certain tiles, windows, drapes or insulation that can reduce these disturbances. In fact, one insurance company discovered that a workplace that implemented sound-deadening materials saw an eight percent increase in efficiency!

  1. Choosing the right paint color

In addition to noise, color has the ability to dampen your mood and throw a wrench into your ability to concentrate. One report showed that painting an office blue caused employees to complain about how cold it was despite the temperature increasing. That’s why choosing the right color should never be an afterthought when planning out your home office. If it’s in your basement where you’re getting no natural light, try some warm colors. Likewise, if your working with a smaller area, pick lighter colors to give the illusion of space.

  1. Proper lighting

Whether it’s looking at your tablet, phone, computer screen or printed documents, you’ll be doing a lot of reading in your home office. And unlike the other rooms in your house, the office is where you’ll be completing critical tasks with your eyeballs at close range. Hence, don’t cheapen out on proper lighting in terms of both quality and quantity. As the level of illumination increases, so does one’s visual performance. This should be discussed in detail with your contractor.

  1. Temperature control

If you’re thinking about converting your basement into a home office, then you know you’ll be working in a cold an damp environment unless you discuss the importance of temperature and humidity. Efficiency is greatly reduced if it’s too warm or too cold. Ask your contractor if you need to run additional ducts, wiring or heating to give yourself a comfortable temperature of seventy to seventy-four degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months and between seventy-four and seventy-eight in the summer.