If you are among the many people that have been trying to work from home, you may have had the challenge of trying to create a home office. Since many of us were used to working outside the home, you may not have needed a dedicated office in your home. More and more people have had to transition to working from home and that can present a new set of challenges.
The first issue is generally finding a workspace in your home. If you already have a dedicated home office space you are lucky! Not everyone has an unused room available for a home office so here are some things to consider before you pick a location. Pick a spot with minimal distractions. You might have some extra space in the laundry room but staring at piles of dirty laundry might make you anxious. Setting up at the kitchen table might be an option but there is a lot of traffic in and out of the kitchen in most homes and the refrigerator is just a little too handy for snacks! You might be tempted to try and work on your bed but that doesn’t help you feel relaxed when you are trying to go to sleep and your unfinished work reports are sitting on your nightstand.
If you are having video conferences or zoom meetings frequently you will need to find a spot that is quiet and has a professional looking background. It is difficult to concentrate on a computer screen meeting with dogs barking, kids crying and phones ringing in the background. If the only quiet place in your home is the unfinished basement, garage or some other unattractive spot you can always download a virtual background for your meetings and no one will ever know.
If you have a room that can be converted to a home office and you want to re-decorate pick a color that will motivate you to want to work. Blue is a great option if you are unsure of a color choice. It is professional and calming at the same time. Try to limit what you put on your desk to essential items only. If your desktop is too cluttered it can increase your anxiety and make it hard to focus. Invest in a good office chair if you don’t already have one.
Another thing to consider is security. If you are using your own personal computer for work purposes, make sure you have data backup and a security system in place. This is especially important if you are dealing with information with privacy concerns. Medical records, financial data or personal identification records need to be safeguarded properly so make sure you have the proper measures in place. Make sure you have enough electrical outlets available for your computer, printer and whatever other equipment you will need and that they are accessible and surge protected. Finally, make sure you have adequate lighting in your workspace. Natural light is great but can cause a glare on your computer screen. Task lighting is also important especially on cloudy days or if you are working at night.
If you don’t have a room available to use for your home office you can carve out a workspace somewhere in your home. Repurpose a closet by removing the hanging rod and adding a small desk and a mirror to brighten things up. An armoire can be used as a workspace in a living room or family room area and then the doors can be closed to cover the mess. A large stair landing which is typically unused can also be adapted as a workspace. Even a long hallway can be claimed with a narrow table and some shelving. If you have a walk up attic that is unfinished you could always set up a cozy work space that is away from the rest of the family and their noise!
In today’s changing work environment many people have had to transition to working from home without much time to prepare. I’m sure if you look around your house you can find an unused space that you can claim as your new office and you may decide that this will be your new permanent workplace!