Establishing a dedicated workspace at home for remote work or distance learning has become the norm for many of us. Unfortunately, COVID took us all by surprise and we were suddenly thrown into new ways of working from home or school. There simply wasn’t a lot of time to sit down and plan an ideal workspace; kitchen tables suddenly became desks and stacked pillows in bed precariously balanced laptops. As we continue to adapt, we may not need to set up a traditional office at home, but it is crucial to create a suitable, practical, and comfortable working environment. Doing so may take a bit of planning and creativity, but the right space can make all the difference in terms of productivity, learning, and overall enjoyment while working from home.
Here’s 4 tips to help you create the perfect work or school space at home:
- Designate the space. If possible, choose a separate room to establish your home office. A guestroom can be reconfigured (how often do you really have guests that stay over and use the bed?) or even a large closet space can be adapted to accommodate a desk, chair, and lamp. If you can’t designate a separate room, look carefully (and with an open mind) at your apartment’s footprint. Even a corner of a room or end of a hallway can be viable candidates just begging for your ingenuity to make it feel like a dedicated work area. Move furniture around and try out a few configurations to determine what will work (and what won’t!) before committing to the space. A room divider or hanging a curtain can provide a measure of privacy. This is especially helpful if you need to video conference. If you don’t have distractions at home, the dining room table is a great space to spread out your work.
- Equipping the space. Start with the essentials. A desk or table that is at the appropriate height will enable you to work comfortably. Monitor stands add needed height to allow for ergonomic positioning and provide storage space underneath. Because you will be sitting for hours at a time, the right chair is essential. It needs to provide adequate support for your lumbar spine, adjust for your feet to rest flat on the floor, and have adjustable armrests to allow your arms to rest comfortably while typing or using the mouse. Now that you and your technology have something to sit on, think carefully about what technology you actually need. One monitor? Two? A laptop? Can you use an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax to save space? Do you need a file cabinet? Can it fit under the desk? Will adding shelves to the wall allow you to keep essential work items nearby but off your desk area?
- Never underestimate the value of good lighting in your work or learning environment. Natural light from a window is great for lifting our spirits, but it lacks dependability. One day there is bright sun causing a glare on the screen and the next day it’s raining and dark and you have trouble seeing your work (not to mention keeping motivated and awake). You will need sufficient indirect light, from an overhead light or a strategically placed lamp, to illuminate your work space and allow you to easily read. You can also adjust your monitor’s lighting controls so that it is not too bright or too dim which can contribute to eyestrain and fatigue.
- Add personal touches. When your space is inviting, comforting, and well-organized, you will find it easier to focus on work and concentrate. Add a pop of color with a plant, a piece of artwork on the wall that you love, an inspirational quote in a frame on your desk, or a mousepad with a favorite vacation photo. The key is to add hints of personalization to make it relaxed and distinctly yours.