When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S., many employers changed their business policies to allow employees to work from home to follow social distancing guidelines. At first, a simple desk or work setup at home could suffice, but now we are looking at longer-term remote work or a potential shift to permanent remote work.
Whether you choose to work full-time from your living or dining room, a den or nook, want to turn a second bedroom into a home office, or you already have an office area to use, there are many ways to set up your space for success so that you are still able to efficiently and effectively excel at your remote work, right in the comfort of your own home.
Creating Your Office Space
First thing’s first: Decide where in your home you will be working. You don’t necessarily need a huge room; many remote workers are able to find success in a small area with everything they need within an arm’s reach. Size is not an issue as long as you have created a space that suits your needs and helps you stay focused.
Not only is the area you select for your home office an important factor, but so is the office furniture you decide to use. Keep in mind that you may need to buy new furniture or swap out old furniture to make it feel more like a work area and less like you are at home.
Is the dining room going to be your workspace? If so, you might want to consider replacing one of your dining room chairs with a new desk chair and putting a chair mat underneath it so that it does not damage your floors. You might also want to consider getting a standing desk converter or desk riser to place on your dining room table if you will be using the table in lieu of an actual desk.
If you will be setting up to work in your living room, a small desk could work well as it does not take up too much space. In some cases, a smaller desk can even be moved near the couch if that’s where you’re more comfortable sitting to work.
Couches and desk chairs are comfortable and traditional, but there are other options to consider. Ball chairs can be helpful if you are looking for a more active form of seating. Ball chairs can also add an element of modern and fun design to your home office. Choose one in a vibrant color like bubble gum pink or sour apple grass, and it can instantly brighten the room and, hopefully, your mood along with it.
Your office chair has a large impact on your workday. If you aren’t comfortable, there’s a chance you may not be as productive. There are different factors to consider when choosing the perfect office chair, such as height and adjustability, upholstery, style and color.
Just as there is a variety of chairs to choose from, there are many types of desks that can fit your individual needs, such as standing desks, desks with hutches, writing desks, L-shaped desks, corner desks, and computer desks, each with their own functions and features. Finding the right desk for your home workspace can help enhance your work environment.
Achieving a Work-Life Balance While Working From Home
Now that you’ve decided on a home workspace and have your office furniture and supplies set, it’s important to make sure your new home office allows for a productive workday. The goal is to have a space that feels comfortable, suits your needs, and allows you to separate work life from home life, as working from home full-time can often cause the line between the two to blur.
Here are a few simple tips that can help you achieve the work-life balance that will lead you to work-at-home success:
- Determine and stick to your working hours: This may look different for everyone — some may follow the traditional 9-to-5 schedule, while others may have a more flexible arrangement that allows them to begin and end work as needed. Whatever the case may be for your particular situation, it’s important to have a start and end time for your work-from-home job to keep yourself on track. At the end of the day, leave your work in your office. Turn off the computer, put files and documents away, and know that everything will be in place when you return the next morning.
- Avoid distractions: Having those set work hours in place will help with this. When you work from home, little things might distract you from your job. Things like laundry, cleaning, or any other home projects can wait until your workday is done, just as they would if you were driving to and from an actual office. Of course, if you have children at home with you avoiding distractions is a bit more complicated.
- Don’t forget to take a break: It’s perfectly acceptable to step away from your desk and computer at some point in the day to have a cup of coffee, go for a walk, or sit down for lunch with a family member. Having a routine each day, including a break or two, can help you adjust to the new normal of a remote job.
- Get dressed before starting your workday: One of the benefits of a work-from-home job is that you don’t have to take the time to get dressed. Pajamas and comfortable athleisure have the potential to become your new work wardrobe. Wear whatever you feel best in, but getting dressed each morning helps to establish that work-life separation. You don’t necessarily need to put on a suit and tie or a blouse and heels, but changing out of your pajamas (even if it is into new pajamas) can certainly affect your mood and productivity throughout the day.
- Make sure you have all the right tools: Think of all the equipment that was accessible to you at work whenever you needed it — things that were already set in place, such as Wi-Fi, internet bandwidth, various software, printers, access to secure files, and other technical requirements. Try to have everything you once had in that work environment readily available to you in your new home office.
- Take care of yourself: Set a timer to get out of your chair a few times throughout the day and walk around the room, or get in a good stretch. You might also consider taking a break from staring at a computer screen. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends making a conscious effort to blink regularly to keep your eyes from drying out, following the “20-20-20” rule of shifting your eyes every 20 minutes to something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, using computer glasses to decrease eye strain, or reducing the glare on your computer with a matte screen filter.
Work-from-home jobs are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and with that comes the need for a reliable place to complete remote work. With the right home workspace, you should have no problem tackling each and every job task that comes your way.
For more great tips, read the full article, reprinted with permission from Office Depot OfficeMax. Office Depot has been helping students and schools succeed for more than 30 years. It’s more than our job. It’s our passion. As a proud National Sponsor of the PTA, our goal is to help make this year—and every year—a success. Connect with Office Depot.