More and more of us are working from home nowadays. Whether it’s due to lockdowns, or your job being mostly online, more and more of us are working entirely from our laptops nowadays. It’s a good existence. We’re saving money and stress on commuting, eating healthier when we can’t pop in our local chip shop, and gaining an easier work/life balance.
But working well at home will mean needing a decent office. As much as you might want to simply pull your laptop into bed and get started, if you have a job that required regular video call meetings or you have trouble getting started in the morning, you will need a dedicated workspace. You will get more productive and appear more professional if you work in a well-decorated dedicated space.
Create a stress-free environment
Working is stressful. There is no getting around that, even if you are working from home. If you care about your work, or if you care about making enough money to live, there will be stress.
However, you can lessen daily stress by adding a few touches to your new office. For one thing, try to get a dedicated space for work. If you don’t have a spare bedroom you can convert into an office, fit a desk into your bedroom. It is implied, though not always respected by little ones, that the bedroom is your space, whereas the living room is a family space. If you can’t get a room for your office, the next best thing is to use a space that is already implied that is yours and shouldn’t be disturbed when you are working. The kitchen dining table might sound like a good idea until you notice everyone coming and going, making coffees, eating their lunch, doing their coloring in. having your own space will allow your brain to compartmentalize, and realize that now is the time to work, not eat or sleep.
Keep a couple of plants nearby. Not only will they make your workspace feel a little less sterile and therefore a little more welcoming, but they will oxygenate the room and help you to think. Merely having a plant in the room has been proven to make you more present, lower blood pressure, improve your mood, and lower noise levels.
Add a few personal touches, to remind you why you are doing this. Bonus points if you have a goal. That can be the kids’ college fund, your retirement location, or just a decent gig next month. Give yourself a little motivation in your workspace with photos of loved ones or cutouts from magazines.
If you are using this space for a regular 9-5 job, you need to upgrade your furniture. You cannot work in that extra dining table chair, or the rusty deck chair you pulled from the shed. You will very quickly destroy your body spending eight hours sitting in the wrong position in these rigid chairs.
It’s in your best long- and short-term interest to invest in a decent desk chair. The benefits of an ergonomic chair are endless. They will force your body into the correct posture so that you don’t have to think about it and keep adjusting your seating. You won’t have to worry about a slouching back or a craned neck which could lead to lower back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle strains. They will also offer lumbar support so that you are less likely to gain back problems.
Desks are designed for people between 5ft 8 and 5ft 10. That is a very small number of the population, and the rest of us will find it hard to feel comfortable at their desk. The correct way to sit is with your feet flat on the ground and your arms at 90-degree angles to your keyboard. That seems impossible when you say it. However, it is possible with an adjustable desk.
You can help things out here by investing in a laptop stand so that you aren’t looking down or up at your screen, but straight ahead.
You can also look into a coffee maker, or a mug warmer to keep on your desk to keep your beverage hot on a cold day. Throw in some noise-canceling headphones to block outside noise and perhaps even a foot hammock and you might just find yourself comfortable while at work.
Dress (the room) to impress
If you are working from home, no doubt you have become very familiar with the idea of a Zoom meeting. Video calls have been well embraced now that lockdown forced businesses to get used to it. But, it has made a lot more of us a lot more aware of our surroundings. Maybe you’re not interested in impressing Jenny from accounting that throws birthday parties for her cats, but if a client asks for a call, you are going to want to show your professionalism. If you’re in an underappreciated spare room that has recently been emptied of boxes you never unpacked or gym equipment that is gathering dust, you might want to give it a makeover to make it presentable.
You can decorate any way you wish, but remember that, if you’re looking to impress, it should be behind you. An accent wall, bookcases full of books and ornaments, colorful storage, the point of it is for your clients to see. You, of course, have to love it too, because any time you enter the room you will also have to see it, just don’t go building Ikea bookshelves that are then going to go behind the webcam.
Make sure to clear the room, or at least the webcam, of anything unsightly. That overflowing bin can go under the desk. The treadmill can go in the opposing corner. Invest in some storage for those piles and piles of files scattered everywhere. In addition to making you look more professional since you can handle your own mess, your mind will clear if everything has its own place. You will know where to find what you need, and working from home life will become a lot easier.
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