With many world leaders and concerned citizens urging people to #stayathome during what has become a global pandemic, many workers are operating from home for the first time. Initially, working from home is a relief. We’re able to stay close to our families and do our part to keep our community safe. This can change quickly as we notice our effectiveness drop and our backs start hurting from slouching on the sofa with our laptops.
Some of us have a designated office at home, but many of us don’t. So how do you create a defined workspace when space is limited? Short of working in bed or standing over your kitchen sink, here are some easy ways to create a productive and efficient workspace at home.
define your space
A workspace is an area reserved for work and only work (or, let’s be realistic, mostly work!). It can look different for everyone, from a full blown office to a tiny corner of your bedroom. However, one thing is constant: your workspace should allow you to focus. Choose a space free from distractions where you can distance yourself from typical ‘at home’ feelings, like the urge to mindlessly pick up your phone or jump into casual chats with your family. A defined workspace can be a small desk facing a window, a corner of your dining table, or a quiet guest room. As long as you and those you live with respect that this space will be specifically for work. By mentally and physically separating your workspace from the rest of your home, you're taking the first step towards productivity.
clear out the clutter
Once you’ve picked a quiet and comfortable spot for work, get your space organized! Ensure the surface you're working on is free of distracting elements. Remove devices, books, stray pamphlets, and food. Essentially, get rid of everything that doesn’t belong there. Give your desk a quick clean and place your work computer, notepads, and anything you may need for the day. If possible, try to mimic the setup you have in your usual office. This will help you feel productive as soon as you sit down at your desk!
invest in an ergonomic setup
We’ve all heard how important it is to leave our desks every hour, and to stretch our legs, move our bodies, and rest our eyes. Unfortunately, the reality for most office workers is quite different. We tend to spend most of our day sitting planted in front of our screens. This is why it’s essential to invest in a proper workstation. If you’re able to splurge on a really good chair, go for it! An office chair with solid lumbar support will go a long way in protecting your body from the strain of sitting all day. If this is out of your budget, focus on smaller things. Choose a chair (no couche allowed!) that helps you keep your back straight, ensure your desk is at a comfortable height. Invest in a good mouse. Maybe even consider purchasing a keyboard rest for wrist support. You will spend a large part of your day working in this spot, so make sure you are comfortable and safe!
create a positive ambiance
Now that you’ve set up a functional workspace, it’s time for the fun part: creating a workspace you enjoy being in! Let’s face it, you will be spending long hours in the same spot, so take the time to add a few touches to boost the fun factor. If you can, sit near a window. Fresh air and sunlight are proven to have a positive effect on your mental health and productivity. Otherwise, focus on creating warmer light with a desk lamp instead of turning on the overhead lights, which can be harsh. Next, add some vibrance with flowers, desk plants, or art. A little pop of colour can make a huge difference in your overall mood. Sound also plays a part in creating a pleasant and productive environment. If you can’t listen to music out loud, invest in a good pair of headphones. The right kind of music can help improve your focus and creativity. Even if you don’t have the resources to create a proper office, small additions in lighting, color, ambient noise, and plant life can have a measurable impact on your productivity.
Working from home is always a challenge, even for experienced remote workers. When you’re faced with weeks or months of self-isolation, taking the time to create a workspace that is functional and comfortable can have a big impact on your overall mental and physical health.