Working from home can present specific challenges, which can be doubled if your partner is working from home. Tripled if your child is schooling from home too! Getting it all done can be difficult, especially if you do not have dedicated work from home spaces carved out to encourage productivity.
More people are working from home since coronavirus and may find it hard to accomplish the same workload due to a distracting work environment. Not having a place for work-life tools can lead to disorganization and lost time.
Makeshift desks set up at the kitchen table may be the wrong height and wrong distance for your computer. In addition, you may find yourself looking down at your computer which can lead to tech neck, otherwise known as forward head posture.
Forward head posture is a for-real health problem caused by looking down at your device too much. The position of your head moves forward from the center of your shoulders and as it does so gravity shifts which results in serious pain. As the center of gravity is carried forward, this shift can increase the weight of your head.
In addition, a poorly set up work from home space can lead to eye strain, tired muscles, or even carpal tunnel. Not to mention that you have to clear off your “desk” when you get ready to start dinner!
Whether you have always worked from home or this is new to you since the pandemic, here are a few tips for creating productive work from home spaces.
Home Workspace for a Productive Work Day
Experts say that it's better to keep your work and relaxing spaces separate. So, if at all possible, try not to set up your office in your bedroom. This can lead to poor sleep hygiene as trying to fall asleep in view of tomorrow's workload may keep you from fully relaxing. Not to mention that it may be hard to concentrate on work when you're in a room that makes you feel like sleeping!
If you do have a room that you can set aside for an office, you'll want to set it up in a way that encourages productivity. Don't worry if you only have one wall space in your living room to set up a desk to work from home. There are creative ways this can be done.
Do you like to sit or stand while working? Perhaps you prefer both? If so, you might consider a desk that can be raised or lowered to the right height for you. This will allow you the freedom to choose to sit or stand as you please.
Video conferencing might be part of your daily life when working from home. Consider this when setting up your desk area. What's behind you? Turn on your computer and open up Zoom. Sit at your chair and take a look at what you see, is it distracting? If your background is an unmade bed then perhaps you want to rethink the location or at the least, use a virtual background.
Bookshelves make a nice background for video conferencing. If you have some, consider positioning your desk so that the bookshelves are your backdrop. Another idea is to set up your desk with curtains in the background. Just make sure that the lighting is right if the curtains are on a sunny window.
If you are carving out a new space, consider adding greenery as well. Large plants set on the floor can create corners. Succulents are popular and can be placed on your desk to bring a little outdoors inside. Plants also clean the air and will contribute to a sense of calm.
Home Office Essentials for Productive Work Days
Consider how you work from home. Do you spend your entire day in front of the computer or are you making calls while pacing the room? Is there a product that you create?
What is your dedicated workspace for and how will you use it? Do you need natural light because you do food photography? Perhaps you spend hours on your computer and a standing desk would do wonders for your workspace.
If you need access to physical files you may need shelving. Ikea and Amazon both have shelving that you can put together with little to no tools. If you will continue doing remote work for the unforeseeable future, you could even use shelving to partition a corner of space as a designated home office.
Do you have a dedicated office or are you currently using the dining room table, a kitchen counter, or a corner in your living room as an office space? If you are able to carve out a small corner of space to arrange as a work area, it will help you to be more productive.
One last thing to consider is your wifi. Before you set up your work from home space, consider the wifi reception. Is it good enough to sustain a thirty-minute conference call? If not, you may want to reconsider your location or move your router.
The basics for a work from home [on a computer] space
- Ergonomic keyboard and wrist pad
- Desk chair that has an adjustable height or go for something that helps you strengthen your core
- Work lamp for your desk
Home Workspace for Your Side Hustle
Stay at home moms with a lucrative side hustle may need to create a designated area to get it all done. You don't have to designate one entire room to your workspace. Sometimes it works to shift your living space and use one wall to create a nook where you can do your writing, drawing, thinking, and creating.
Office Space for the Creative
If you are a DIY expert and sell physical products you create, you may need to set up a place where you can keep all of your supplies at your fingertips. Having to pull out boxes and equipment can dampen your productivity.
However, if you simply do not have the space to set aside a work area, consider rolling shelves or carts that can house your supplies. If you make jewelry, clay figures, small paintings, or other handmade items, organization is the key to being more productive.
Here are a few options for creative work from home spaces for crafters:
- Metal shelf cart with wheels – We use this to store supplies for an Etsy shop. It's easy enough to pull out when it's time to work on creating.
- Stacking containers – These can be used for supplies for DIY projects, etc.
- Hanging organizer – Makes a nice place to keep files, magazines, printed materials and such.
BONUS Work from Home productivity tips, tools, and ideas
Other handy tools to help you stay productive while working from home that will contribute to workplace success…
- Whiteboard – perfect for brainstorming with your team. Even if everyone is meeting via conference call, take a picture of the whiteboard and share it with the team when you're done.
- Pegboard – utilizing a pegboard can make it easier to keep the things you need close at hand.
- Daily planner – write down your biggest goals, client projects, or important appointments front and center. You could use a wall planner or whatever works best for you.
- Ring light for those Zoom calls. If you feel bad about the way you look, it's hard to stay focused and in a good mood. These ring lights will give your face a natural glow and make you look much better on camera!
Giving your work from home space a personal touch
Wanna have a really amazing WFH environment? Here are some suggestions for giving your space a personal touch.
Keeping a diffuser in your work from home spaces allows you to diffuse your favorite essential oils. I like to use ones for focus. This beautiful vintage diffuser is perfect for adding an artsy touch to your office.
Marie Kondo uses a tuning fork to signal the start of her day. Try out an energy chime.
I keep my energy chime on the edge of my desk next to a bonsai tree my daughter bought for me. Because I am at home surrounded by my “mom job,” it can sometimes be a challenge to shift my focus to business. Before I start working, I use the chime to center myself and signal this change in direction. Not gonna lie, my kids also come in my office and strike the chime to tell me they want me to stop working!
During the workday, play study focus music or whatever gets you in the working groove. I use this Bose speaker on my desk for clear, clean sound.
If you are used to drinking coffee all day at work, it might be more productive to set up a coffee station. You can stock it with plenty of coffee, tea, and snacks. When you get a 10-minute break, grab a fresh cup of coffee. I keep a coffee warmer on my desk because I never finish a cup before it goes cold.
Strategy to make life easier working from home
Natural light is better than artificial light when it comes to mood and productivity. A workspace near a window is better than one facing a wall. If you can do this you'll likely have a cheerier disposition.
Hanging plants nearby and adding a few things that make you happy can also improve your productivity. Order a painting of your beloved pet and hang it in your office or display a souvenir that makes you think of a special trip. These little items can boost your mood while you work.
Even if you don't know the first thing about interior design, you can find a photo that you love and start adding one item at a time until you recreate something similar. Take it one small change at a time.
Working from home presents a unique set of challenges. With incremental improvement, you will adjust to working from home. Making small adjustments to your work from home space will help you become more productive with time.