Since the whole world is caught up in the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, more and more companies have implemented mandatory or voluntary work-from-home policies. For most of us, that is an unusual and sudden new challenge that we must quickly adapt to. The first and most important step in this process is finding the right place in your home in which you can be as creative and productive as you would be in a regular office. However, putting together the right workspace takes more than simply placing a desk and a chair in the spare corner of a room, which is why we have compiled a list with eleven clever tips to set up the perfect home office for an improved work-life balance:
1. Set up a neat mini-office
As clichéd as it sounds, the most important thing you should do is designate a space in your home exclusively for work. Even if you don’t have the luxury to dedicate an entire room to it, you can definitely find the right place somewhere in your home.
Among the most popular options is rearranging the living room so that you can carve out a stylish little office. Since you’ll probably be using your workspace more often than your living room now, you could easily sacrifice that extra armchair. You can temporarily store your unused pieces of furniture in a nearby storage unit and make room for a desk.
If you happen to have some extra space in your bedroom instead, you can also place a desk and a chair in there. Yes, we all know that the bedroom is a sacred space dedicated only to sleep and relaxation, but desperate times call for improvisation.
2. Go minimal
The key to maximizing the efficiency of any workspace is to embrace the minimalist style. With most information being stored digitally nowadays, there is no need for a lot of physical space. Therefore, you can opt for a small desk that is enough to hold your laptop and a cup of coffee. Along with that, go for a simple but comfortable chair, and that’s it, you have a perfectly functional home office, wherever you choose.
Choosing not to surround yourself with too many things comes with its own set of benefits: there’s less clutter, it’s easy to maintain, and it’s more aesthetically pleasing.
3. Prioritize comfort
Even if you adopt a simpler style when you’re designing your ideal workspace, comfort should always be a top priority. Choose the most comfortable chair in your home, or if none of them fits the bill, invest in a good quality one that has the proper back and arm support. In the long run, it’s worth it and it will make your work way more enjoyable.
Since you’re doing your job from the comfort of your own house, you’re likely to be working barefoot, so it might be tempting to sit in the wrong position. For instance, sitting with your legs underneath you for too long may lead to blood circulation issues. To avoid any damage, if you like having your feet up, place a footstool in front of you (or the closest thing you have that resembles it, such as an ottoman).
4. Let the light in
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a functional working space. In order to avoid straining your eyes, you have to make sure you get enough light, whether it’s natural or artificial.
A few hours of natural light every day comes with a handful of benefits, such as the recommended dosage of vitamin D. However, since it’s not always possible to position your desk in the proximity of a window, the right artificial light will do. Make sure you have a source of light above your workspace as well as behind you, so that there’s no reflection from the monitor.
The last thing you want is to squint at your laptop, so adjust the lighting of the display to fit your preferences as well.
5. Personalize your space
Even if you choose the minimalist style when you decorate your home office, it doesn’t have to be dull. There’s no harm in adding a couple of things that inspire and motivate you throughout the day, such as a picture of your loved ones on your desk or a few motivational images on the wall.
One of the most popular options is to add a touch of greenery, which is said to trigger creativity and boost productivity. Studies have shown that having plants around you while working is not purely aesthetic, but they also reduce stress and clean the air.
6. Avoid distractions
The most obvious and hard-to-deal-with disadvantage of working from home is being easily distracted by what’s going on around you. Whether you have kids, pets or any other source of distraction, you’ll find it tricky to stay focused and be as productive as you’d be in an office where everybody else is doing their job and minding their own business.
In order to handle this professionally, you’ll have to find a quiet and peaceful place to do your job. The best choice is to pick a room that is less frequented throughout the day by the other household members. If you live alone, avoid at all costs attempting to work where the bed or the couch interferes with your sight, because we all know just how tempting it is to crawl back in. Stay professional and turn your face away from all such distractions.
If your only option is to do your job at the kitchen table, make sure it’s clean and tidy before you start, or it will keep your mind occupied and you’ll inevitably do some chores while working.
7. Make to-do lists
Staying organized while working remotely is tricky for many reasons, and the main one is the difficulty of reaching your productivity goals. In order to stay on track with your work, you have to set daily or weekly goals and make sure you always stick to them.
It is difficult to remember your tasks if you don’t clearly visualize them, so you can print or write down to-do lists and place them somewhere in plain sight. At the end of every task, tick or circle it on your list and the sense of accomplishment will surely put a smile on your face.
8. Keep a schedule
Another negative aspect of having a remote job is the problem of making a working schedule and actually sticking to it. When you go to an actual office it’s easy to form a routine, but when you work from home, things can get chaotic, especially if your job has flexible hours.
The secret is to force yourself to keep the same schedule every day, wake up at the same time, take your break at the same hour every day and make a clear distinction between work and your personal time. It won’t be easy, and it does take some getting used to, but with a little bit of determination you will be able to get to a point at which it won’t be a mess anymore.
9. Communicate efficiently
With the coronavirus disrupting our daily lives, talking to co-workers can be the only source of human interaction for many people, so make sure you get enough of it. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to keep communication going and always be informed about what your other teammates are up to. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and offer help when needed, because you’re all going through this together.
If you want to make it more fun, set a daily break in which you can all enjoy some facetime and drink your coffee together as you would if you were back at the office.
10. Cut yourself some slack
The world is going through some unprecedented changes, which means we are all allowed to take time to adjust. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because that can have a huge impact on your health and, consequently, affect your ability to do your job properly. Try to stay focused on what’s positive and don’t take it too hard if you have a less productive day. Learn from what you’re doing wrong and perfect your methods in time, because nothing long-lasting can be done in an instant.
11. Enjoy the benefits
Now that we’ve covered the most important steps for creating a full-time workspace outside the confines of a formal office, it’s time to take in all the advantages of doing your job from the comfort of your own home. You will never have to worry about dressing up and you’ll see an immediate difference in your bank account when you don’t need to bear the costs of commuting daily. You can make your own home-made lunch and delicious coffee and learn to be more independent. Moreover, you’ll have enough time for yourself or with your family and gradually learn to stay more focused on your tasks.
Once the element of novelty wears off and you adapt to this new working style, the benefits may become even clearer and you’ll be able to make the most of it, while it lasts.