Working from home has become the new normal for many Americans. Instead of cubicles and break rooms, we have home offices, makeshift desks, and our own kitchens. While some have taken the change of scenery in stride, many are struggling to create a healthy work environment. There are plenty of distractions to be found in every room of the house, and motivation can be difficult to find amidst the comforts of home. Thankfully, structure and balance can be brought into your work-from-home lifestyle with just a few simple tips.
Choose a Dedicated Area
Deciding the best place to set up a home office doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. There are a number of factors that influence whether or not a space is well suited for remote work. Rooms with plenty of windows and exposure to daylight benefit your physical and mental well-being by reducing headaches and strain put on eyes. This allows you to be more productive on a daily basis, and keeps your mood in the positive. When selecting a home office space, you should also be looking for a quiet area with some degree of privacy. Look for a space as far away from the main living area of your home as possible to reduce environmental noise and create a secluded atmosphere. While it may be tempting to work from the comfort of your couch, push yourself to build a seperate space where you are able to hunker down for work and then say goodbye at the end of the work day.
Identify Your Needs
Everyone will need their home office tailor made to best fit their needs as they work from home. The good news? You may end up being more productive when you don’t spend hours commuting or in meetings, taking extended coffee breaks or long lunches. The bad news? You have to set and stick to office routines in your own home, eliminating the regular social expectations that come with working in the office. And to do that, you’re going to need the right equipment for the job.
- If you’re only working from home for a short period of time, you won’t need much in the way of extra technical equipment. If you have your own laptop, you will only need an external USB keyboard and mouse.
- After that, you might want to consider a separate monitor, external hard drive, and a four-port USB hub or docking station to keep everything connected.
- Having a dedicated home office space means having a proper desk and an adjustable office chair to ensure the interests of health and productivity are aligned.
- Take a crash course in software applications such as Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Slack, TeamViewer, and Zoom to make sure you’re up to date and ready to get to work.
Maintain Good Posture
Experts have long stressed the importance of posture in the workplace. Many employees sit for long periods in front of computer screens, oftentimes hunched over in their seats. This can lead to back pain, neck strains, and difficulty standing straight. Working from home is no exception to this phenomenon, with the added factor of inadequate seating such as couches or kitchen chairs. Try to choose a seat that has strong back support and keeps you at eye level with your computer screen, or invest in a desk chair built specifically for office workers. Lumbar support pillows can transform an uncomfortable chair into a viable work spot, and can even be taken outside to use once you take off your patio furniture covers. Most importantly, taking frequent breaks to stand up and stretch will make a huge difference in your muscular health. Make time in your day to put the work down and step outside for some fresh air and lumbar stretches. Your posture will thank you for it!
Separate Professional From Personal
Working under your own roof can blur the line between work and home, which can lead to the infiltration of your personal life with stretches of constant and never-ending work brain. It’s crucial to set firm boundaries when you work from home. Otherwise, the all consuming pressure of work will dictate how you maintain your sense of self in relation to your personal life. Make every effort to be present in your life, whether you’re finishing up a big project or having a conversation with your teenager. Setting boundaries will ultimately make you a better, stronger, and happier person in both your work and home life.
School closures have added additional chaos to your remote work; parents and children are now spending all of their time under the same roof. This means weekdays have every member of the family working and online learning at the same time with very little flexibility. Younger children will no doubt need more attention and assistance when it comes to online schooling which can be a distraction to parents trying to get through the work day. It is important to set up a window of uninterrupted time for work, preferably at the same time every day. Set up a schedule to trade off assistant duties with your spouse so you are both able to help your kids and get some working hours free of distractions. Emphasize to your kids that your workspace is not their playroom, but that you will be free to spend time with them as soon as the work day is over. Be sure to spend quality time with your kids in the evenings and weekends, taking off your custom grill cover to whip up some bacon-burger-dogs or turning off the lights to have a fun movie night. Remember, even though your work is part of your identity, your family is what makes life worth living.