As the global pandemic continues to shape the new normal, there's one thing that we're beginning to embrace longterm: working from home. Whether you have a job that allowed a flexible working environment before or you're learning the ropes for the first time there are challenges that we've all grown to understand.
Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that are at least partially compatible with working remotely, and with companies like Twitter, JPMorgan, Facebook, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow, and more extending their work from home policies addressing challenges with solutions is necessary going forward. So, we've put together a guide to creating a home office space that fosters productivity and peace.
Working from home full time doesn't mean working from your couch for 8 hours a day. It's important to invest in a desk and a supportive chair to help normalize your environment. Create an ergonomic space using this article to ensure you're comfortable.
There's nothing more aggravating than having a slow internet connection, freezing on Zoom calls, or seeing that spinning loading wheel. Investing in a good router will help your days go smoothly. We recommend the Google Mesh Network.
Think about the technology you use at your office... Do you have multiple monitors? Do you have access to a printer or a headset? Try to mimic that set up at home to make you as comfortable and productive as possible, especially if this is a long term situation.
If your makeshift home office set up doesn't have a door, you'll need to create boundaries in other ways. Situate your desk to face a wall or window so that you're not able to see what's going on around you in the rest of the room. Share your meeting times with your family so that they know when they shouldn't disturb you. Mimic the feel of a cubicle by using an accordion room divider or buy a desk with a tall hutch to interrupt your line of sight.
We've found a way of moving face-to-face meetings online through Zoom, but that doesn't always mean that our backgrounds are meeting ready. If your home office doubles as your living room or bedroom you might want to consider downloading a free Zoom background that can turn your surroundings into anything from a board room to Seinfeld's living room. Find some free backgrounds here.
Think about what you used to do at the office - you walked in, put your stuff down, said good morning to coworkers, and maybe made a cup of coffee all before settling in to get to work. Your morning routine might look a bit different now, but starting and ending your day doing the same thing each day can help your workday have a start and an end, something that's not always easy to come by while working from home.
Set up your office to compliment your routine. If you have a goal of adding time to read or journal into your day make sure that you leave a notebook and pen or your current read at your desk. Or if taking a true lunch break is important to you add it to your to-do list or set a timer on a clock to remind you. Eventually, your routine will become second nature but setting yourself up for success with what you do each day will greatly help.
While we wouldn't recommend working from your couch all of the time, sometimes it's a nice change of pace and can lead to increased productivity if used wisely. If you have a patio or outdoor space, taking your work outside for a little while each week can help you settle back into your workspace after. Similarly, setting up a few different options within your office will allow you to move around throughout the day. So if your space has room for a chair or small couch, that's a great way to create a peaceful space. Think about how you would work in the office: you walk around, sit in meetings, or work in a coworkers office - recreate that movement into your home office.
Chances are that you didn't get much say in how your office was set up, right? You probably walked in on day one, were assigned a desk, and that's it. Creating a workspace at home gives you a chance to design an office that works for you. So before you go out and invest in office furniture or decor take the time to think about what would make your office yours.
For example, if you work best in complete silence you might want to consider partially soundproofing the room. If you are dialing into meetings all day, you should think about the orientation of your desk for the best lighting and investing in a comfortable headset with a microphone. Love watching the trees blow in the wind? Orient your set up to look out the window. Remember, this is your space to get creative in!
Similarly to the overall set up, the design is another aspect of the traditional office that you typically don't have much say in. Framed photos of your family, motivational quotes, plants, paint colors, and all other decor choices are in your hands so when you're designing your home office space make sure to consider what inspires you.
Working from home presents challenges but it also has a lot of positive side effects. You'll spend less time commuting and you're able to control the space you're in, but you'll have the occasional interruption from the kids, a barking dog, Amazon deliveries, and more. If your office doesn't turn into exactly what you were hoping for or if it's not an office at all but rather a corner of your home, it's important to be flexible while working from home, especially while we're all getting used to this new normal.
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