As the world adjusts to managing the spreading of COVID-19, many of our workplaces are forced to change the way they go about their day-to-day. For most of us, this means going from an office environment every weekday, with coworkers, distractions, and comradery, to the more secluded life of a “remote worker.” When faced with this sudden change, one may ask, “how can I work from home and still be productive?”
Fear not my friends. We are here to help.
As much as we hate to admit it, we are creatures of our environment. We’re human. We can’t help it. That is why, before doing anything else, you need to create a workspace for yourself. A space that has positive energy for you allows your body to be at ease and your brain to be focused. In turn, allowing you to be more productive.
But how do you make this space? Simple.
Start with these six easy steps for setting up your at-home workspace
1. Find your space
Not every person is the same and neither is every workspace. It’s important to find the one that fits your needs. Take into consideration what type of work you’ll be mainly doing, what supplies you’ll need, and what type of environment you operate best in. Do you need total privacy? Do you prefer a little background noise or music playing? Is it best for you to have easy access to the kitchen for coffee refills?
For me, I work best when I have natural light, am close to my coffee maker, and have little distractions. When I created my home workspace, it ended up being a small table in the corner of the kitchen facing the sliding glass doors. To figure out what feels best to you, walk around and sit in different areas of your home. What feels most comfortable to you? Open up your computer and see if that area promotes focus and good energy for you. It may take you some time, but trust me. It. Is. Worth it.
2. Identify your distractions
Dishes in the sink. Social media. TV. My family’s conversations. These are just a few of the distractions I am faced with now that I am working from home. Identifying what your distractions are enables you to take the necessary steps to minimize them. By creating your space away from these distractions, you eliminate the effects they can have on you and your productivity! However, for most Americans, the biggest culprit for distraction is cellphone use. Research has found that having smartphones accessible reduces workers’ productivity, especially if they are already prone to overusing their phones.
Make sure your new workspace gives you enough distance from your distractions and make sure YOU are doing everything you can to put that phone down.
TIP: I have always had my texting enabled on my mac through iMessage. Huge distraction. I turned that off and put my phone on vibrate. Look at me now! Just over here sending emails and writing blogs. #productive
3. Consider your needs
What type of work does your job entail? Do you need space to be sketching? Are you responsible for data entry? Will you be looking at blueprints or do you only need your laptop and a mouse? All of these tasks require differing amounts of space for you to work with. Make sure that your at-home-office can support whatever needs you have.
TIP: You’ll also want to make sure you’re keeping your space clean and organized as well. Incorporate places to store your supplied when you’re not using them and keep things neat and tidy. Clean space, clean mind baby.
4. Good vibes only
Now that you’ve picked the location for your workspace, it’s time to make it your own. Set up your computer/iPad/monitors or whatever you may need. Next, incorporate items that bring you joy or make you smile. For me, the delicious smell of a lit candle is relaxing and makes me feel at ease. Maybe yours is a small succulent or a picture of your friends! Don’t go overboard; we still want to have a clean space, but personal touches like this will really help to make this space yours. Keep your area clutter free to reduce distraction and frustration. Use these tips if you’re new to remote working and/or want to ensure your at-home workday is set up for success.
5. Support yourself
I have found that I move around a lot less now that I’m working from home. Face-to-face conversations have now become FaceTime and Microsoft Teams calls, which means more time spent sitting. It’s more important now than ever to keep our bodies healthy and happy and the chair you’re sitting in plays a huge part in that. Having a chair that isn’t ergonomically sound is a pain in the neck…literally. Make sure your seat supports your lower back, is the proper height for your feet to sit flat on the ground, and allows your arms to rest comfortably on your desk. If you have a laptop, you may want to consider adding a lift so you can look straight out at your screen.
6. Open for business
Great! So you’ve got your space all set up and you’re ready to rock. But just like your real office, this one needs to have some office hours. Even the most beautiful of workspaces can’t help you if you aren’t spending enough time in it. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. This is a whole new work world for us so it’s more important than ever that we build a new routine. In your schedule, you’ll want to not only include meetings and calls, but also breaks and other activities. If you’re having a hard time setting one up for yourself, use mine as a guide:
7:15a Wake-up/Shower/Get ready
8a Sign-on/Check emails/drink coffee/eat breakfast
9a FaceTime call with team (Project updates, socialize)
11a Breaktime (play with my dog, go outside, stretch)
11:15a Back to work
12:30p Make lunch with my family/put up away message/go for a walk
1:15p Project time/emails
3:45p Back to work
5p Send daily wrap-up email/Sign-off
So there you have it! Six easy steps to make your at-home workspace work for you. Now sit up straight, drink your water, and wash your hands. Stay healthy out there!