At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us scrambled to find space to work from home, whether it was at the kitchen table or a folding table in the guest room. Two years later, working from home is a permanent arrangement for many people, and it’s time to rethink the home office setup. No matter the size of your home here are seven simple steps you can take to create a relaxing and functional workspace.
Stake Your Claim
Perhaps you’ve moved around from room to room in an attempt to find a quiet space to work during the pandemic. If working from home is now permanent for you, it’s time to stake your claim on the spot that works best for you. You may be fortunate enough to have an entire spare bedroom for your office, but a quiet corner or even a larger walk-in closet can work, too. A folding room divider can help create a personalized, private workspace in an unused space like the living or dining room. And no matter where you land, it’s important to feel comfortable and productive in your workspace, so talk to those you live with about your work schedule and noise expectations.
Cancel Out Noise
Speaking of noise, one thing we’ve learned while working from home is the array of sounds that challenge us during work hours. From full-throttle leaf blowers to barking dogs to honking car horns, many of us are distracted by outside noises during our workday. Inside noises can be problematic too, whether it’s a humming vacuum cleaner or a blaring television. Investing in a quality set of noise-canceling soundproof headphones can help you block out these distracting sounds and keep you focused and productive.
Upgrade the Basics
If you’re still using a shaky folding table and/or a wobbly chair for work, it’s time to upgrade. A sturdy desk and a comfortable chair are solid investments for your permanent workspace. Consider a desk with a spacious work surface and built-in storage for important documents, pens, business cards, and paper clips. You’ll be sitting most of the day, so a comfortable, ergonomic chair designed to best support your body is a splurge-worthy investment.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
No one wants to be reminded of work at night or on the weekends. Simple storage solutions for office materials can easily separate work and leisure spaces in your home. At the end of a workday close your laptop and slide it into a drawer so you aren’t tempted to constantly check email. Keep a rolling file cabinet next to your desk and at the end of the workday dump your pens, papers, keyboard, and mouse into it to help clear your desk and mind.
Set the Stage
Zoom and Teams weren’t regular meeting options two years ago, but now they’re our go-to. A professional background is essential for these meetings and easy to set up. If possible, position your desk so you have a wall behind you for a basic, solid background you can dress up with artwork or prints. An inexpensive room divider is a nice option, too, as it can provide a backdrop during the day and close off your workspace after hours. And you can always explore virtual backgrounds, which feature anything from a well-stocked bookcase to a gorgeous Hawaiian beach scene.
Light It Up
Do you prefer soft light, natural light, overhead lighting, or some combination of these different options? For instance, you might enjoy using natural light to get you through the day, then relying on a small desk lamp as the sun goes down. Lighting can make a big difference in our mood, so if your workspace is dark you might invest in a lamp that emits ultraviolet (UV) light, the type used for those with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). String lights are a fun option, too, providing soft, flattering light day and night.
Make It Yours
If you ever calculated the amount of time you spend working, you know how important it is to create a workspace you enjoy. Pictures of loved ones (including the four-legged type) keep us grounded and grateful for our life outside of work. Green plants add a pop of color as well as a little extra oxygen in the air. Keeping a small, fragrant candle on your desk and a box of colorful matches can provide calming aromatherapy during hectic workdays.
Two years ago, when we were sent home to work, we thought it would be a temporary setup. But now, for many of us, we’re home to stay. Making upgrades in your new workspace can help you feel productive and motivated as we shift to this new way of working. Whether it’s better headphones, a comfortable chair, rolling storage, a room divider, twinkly lights, or a great-smelling candle, claim your space and make your office your own!
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