Remote work had been slowly gaining acceptance until the COVID-19 pandemic propelled it to the forefront, allowing employers to take a second look at its potential. Just a few weeks ago, many employers were reticent to allow employees to work from home, thinking that their productivity would decrease in the comfort of their homes. They've been proven wrong.
So, how can employees transition to working from their homes? Now that employees have proven that their jobs can be done efficiently and effectively from home, I guess that more and more of them will be allowed -even encouraged- to work from home due to long-term physical distancing measures. Yet the move to remote work can be hard for people new to it. Lack of a suitable workspace, lack of personal accountability, and lack of structure are a few of the main reasons why this change presents a challenge to some.
Let’s take the office space, for instance. Businesses of all sizes invest a great deal of money on experts who design workspaces that encourage collaboration, optimized workflow, and wellbeing to improve the work experience of its personnel and promote increased productivity. In a home office, you have to be the expert in designing your space. Hence, if you're transitioning from the traditional office, here I offer seven basic, practical suggestions to help you thrive in your new corner office.
The workspace. Finding a dedicated workspace is essential. Temporarily working from the kitchen table is one thing, but using the kitchen table as your new office is a no-no unless you find a way to elude interruptions. And even so, the house has a way of demanding attention that rivals that of a whiny toddler. You can never honestly say that you have nothing to do in your home because there is always something to do. Some of us are better at ignoring those demands than others -if you’re one of them, I envy you!
So, if you can find a room with a door and natural light that will shield you from household demands, you’ve found your space. Make it an enjoyable area, with a color palette that doesn’t tire you after 2 hours. Your space should be uncluttered and pleasant. Since you’ll probably be making video calls from there, make sure the place you selected is suitable and offers no distractions in the backdrop.
The major splurge. The most important piece of furniture you’ll ever need in your home office is a comfortable, ergonomic chair. If you can splurge on one item, this is it. By choosing an office chair that supports your back, you'll spend money, no doubt, but you'll save in back pain, weariness, and other aches. Prices for good office chairs range from one hundred to several thousand dollars; buy the best chair you can afford. You won’t regret it.
The minor splurge. It's possible that in your traditional office, you had a desktop or laptop computer and at least one secondary monitor. However, very few people have an additional monitor on their home desks. You’ll need one now. These monitors are not very expensive. You may need a more or less sophisticated monitor, depending on the type of work you do. Unless your job requires a high-quality monitor, you’ll be fine with an inexpensive one available for around $100 or less. Having a second monitor will allow you greater flexibility and possibly a larger screen.
The paper issue. Nothing screams clutter louder than piles of paper all around your workspace. Nothing is more frustrating than looking for that one document that your boss needs right away amidst an unclassified, unlabeled stack of papers on the floor next to your desk. If you ask me, paper is the number one clutter-causing item in any home.
Look around and estimate how much filing space you’ll need and plan on buying more capacity than you need now. Why fill your office with a series of small filing cabinets when you can get a larger one now and resolve the issue for a long time? Then place your cabinet where you can reach it easily. If you put it in the next room or the hallway, you’ll still find a way to create piles of paper that will sit on your desk for days before they find their way to the filing cabinet in the garage. Assess your home office and decide how you can fit a big enough filing system close to your desk. A desk with a couple of filing drawers, maybe?
The tech. Nowadays, no home office is complete without fax, copier, and scanner. From three-in-ones to tiny portable devices or even your smartphone, choosing from the host of possibilities will keep you busy for a while. Do your research and purchase the equipment that better fits your budget, your needs, and your space. You may want to take measurements before going shopping to make sure your new gadgets have a proper home in your office.
The niceties. Your new workspace has to be comfortable and inviting. Invest some time and money in turning your space into a place where you want to spend time. Buy nice pens and markers that won’t smudge, select a couple of pictures that make you smile every time you look at them. Keep a tray with a few healthy pre-packed snacks to keep you energized and hydrated during the workday. What about creating a reading nook so you can alternate between that seat and your desk? Your workspace doesn't have to be dull, inject some fun and color into it!
The bonus. The design and appearance of your home office impact your productivity and your use of time. An inviting, clean space will make you feel good every time you step in and close the door. It's frustrating trying to get work done on a desk that’s full of papers and other random stuff that you don't need. Not only that, but it's also a big waste of time, energy, and a cause of stress.
When setting up your home office, think about simplicity and functionality. You don’t need to be a minimalist to create a well-designed space. The secret is to keep everything you need -and a few things that just make you happy-, and get rid of everything else. Think efficiency. Assess your daily routine and workflow and find ways of making your work area more efficient. Follow my seven suggestions, and working from home will feel much more relaxed!
I hope you liked this post! I would love to read about your ideas and your experience with remote work. Please like, share, and leave a comment below. Have a productive week!