Chances are if you started off working from home when the pandemic hit, you are still working from home. What I find truly remarkable is how well people and companies have adapted to this model of working. Still a work in progress like most things, but working pretty well nonetheless.
What is also evolving, is the desire to stay at home, once things go back to “normal” – whatever that looks like! This may mean a permanent, at home work life for some. But for others, going into the office has real benefits, and the plan is to return…but for a lot of people, not back to the same five days a week.
Here are some helpful tips to make this space, wherever it may be in your home, integrate but not dominate:
Invest in the appropriate storage for your needs: filing cabinet, credenza, multi-purpose drawer unit (big or small) for general supplies, bookcases or shelving. Try to choose storage with drawers and doors. This way, when it is not “work time”, you are free from any work-related visual distractions.
Video Conference Backgrounds
We are all getting used to seeing people via video in their home with books, pictures, etc behind them. At times, I notice myself scanning the background, looking at photos and checking out book titles. This can make it is hard to achieve the level of engagement you might be looking for over video meetings. So help yourself and your client/customer by being thoughtful about your backdrop. You could choose something completely neutral, or you could use your backdrop as an opportunity for branding or corporate messaging, if appropriate. Anything from a large piece of foam core, to a vinyl banner with your logo would work, but make it professional. Think of something that works for your particular context – maybe the bookcase full of personal items is just right!
Most of you will have sorted this out pretty quickly. Having your equipment in the right spot, as well as appropriately “fitted” to your body ergonomically, so that you can work comfortably, is REALLY important. Until my husband incorporated a second monitor into his work station, he was working from a laptop which was propped up on a file box so that he was not looking “down” for 8+ hours a day. Making these little or big adjustments is important. Otherwise, you get aches and pains and other discomforts, which make it harder to focus. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a good chair as most of us are spending the majority of our work day sitting down. Get your office chair from work if you can. Otherwise, make this a priority purchase and perhaps your work will reimburse you.
Keep on top of your papers, files, reference materials, etc. Sometimes you may want to spread out and work at the kitchen counter while you are working on an important project, but don’t keep it that way. Take the time to regularly reign-in your work footprint to its designated space. It can and will take over!
“Office” furniture vs “home-office” furniture. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a separate room for your home office, be particular about your choices for furnishings. Some of us can use what we already have, and make it all work just fine. If you are needing to invest in a few pieces to make your work-at-home experience optimal, try to choose from the “home-office” category. Typical “office” furniture is usually all about function, and the scale – not to mention the aesthetic- is generally not ideal for home-office spaces. Choose carefully in order to make your work-space nice to look at and function in.
Unlike most offices, working from home means that you can control the overall temperature of your space which is a real plus. Also, unlike most offices, your windows at home open, and close, so that you can adjust the flow of new, clean air into your work space. I recommend having at least one nearby window open always, even if just a little, to keep the air fresh. You can also add a plant, or two, to further improve air quality. Nowadays, there are indoor plant shops popping up all over the place, and most sell lovely pots to put them in.
I hope this helps you with your own home office space, wherever that may be!