Creating Space & Routine to Work from Home
Enter the home workspace. While you may already have a home office, chances are, it wasn’t used five days a week, so you will probably have some changes to make.
Getting into a RoutineAs you create your work from home space, think about the space itself and how you use it. You may have to make adjustments, not just to your home but also to your routine. The goal is not the impossible task of mimicking life before quarantine, as much as it is making the new routine, and space, feel familiar. Keep what routines you can and take advantage of the extra time you get in the morning.
Dress for SuccessWithout the usual errands and workday commute, there are fewer ways to break up the day. One way to do this is by how you dress. It seems that we all want to work in our sweatpants, and if you can, more power to you! However, dressing as if you were going into work can help you be more productive, as it mentally sets a tone for the day. It also sets a tone of professionalism for those Zoom conferences. When you’re done with your work for the day, truly enjoy your downtime by switching gears and changing into comfy clothes.
Find Your FocusBefore you begin setting up your workspace, make sure that you pick a place in your home where you can realistically focus. Your bed? The couch? Probably not. You may need to move a few pieces of furniture around to create the space you’re looking for. Even if it is just a nondescript corner of your living room, designating a specific spot for work will help your brain find productivity. If you are sharing a living space, reserving a specific area for work may further help you and your family (or roommates) not step on one another’s toes during the day.
Setting Up Your Space--It Starts with a SurfaceWhen setting up your home office space, especially for Zoom meetings, make sure you have a flat surface for your computer. With all the online conferencing, now is probably not the time to be curled up on the couch with your computer in your lap. Finding a flat surface, preferably a desk, where you can house your work allows you to maintain professionalism. At the same time, it prevents the need to move your computer between calls. If you have a desk, keep it clean and clear to minimize distractions.
EnvironmentWhat did you like about your office? What did you dislike? Now is a perfect opportunity to experiment with building an office in which you feel comfortable and inspired. Trendy chalkboards and blackboards can be used for brainstorming, collaboration and decor, and your calendar can double as an art space. Bring life into your office with well-placed plants. Personalizing your workspace will help you feel at ease, and will also help to make your space conference-friendly.
Another tip: use mirrors. Hang up a mirror if you don’t already have one. It will reflect light around the room and make your space feel bigger.
Proper LightingLighting is essential when working from home, for two major reasons: first, a well-lit space lends itself to increased productivity. Second, video conferences benefit from a well-lit background. When setting up your work-from-home space, consider the light sources you have available to you. If possible, set up your home office near a window. You may also need to adjust the position of your lamps to optimize your video quality and brightness. Avoid placing lights behind you, as that can cast your face in shadow. Instead, keep your light source in front of you, so that it brightens your space.
Protect Your PostureIf you haven't already, now may be the time to invest in a comfortable, supportive chair. If you are accustomed to standing while you work, you may want to purchase a standing desk or standing desk converter. These can help minimize spine and lower back pressure after sitting all day. Alternatively, try working at a kitchen counter, as long as this location doesn’t compromise video conference quality.
Screen TimeWhile most jobs today require some degree of screen time, if you are now working from home that time has likely increased significantly. You may have noticed that you get more headaches or feel a bit groggy after working. This is a normal side effect of staring at a screen for extended periods of time. Take breaks and look away from the screen, or consider a pair of blue light blocking glasses, which are readily available and affordable.
While one of the biggest advantages of working at home is flexibility, some people struggle to find a happy work/life balance when they are working from home. One way of managing this balance is by establishing clear office hours. Setting aside a clear time to work will allow you to actually enjoy your downtime and let home be home again.
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Striking a balance between work and life is a new challenge that many around the world are facing, and that’s okay! Managing your work environment and routine may take a little trial and error. Luckily when it comes to your virtual meeting space, it’s what’s on camera that counts. With diligence and commitment to making an at-home work environment your new normal, your workspace will come together in no time!