3 Ways to Improve Your Home Office
Pre-pandemic, working from home seemed like a foreign idea to most people. It’s an idea we’re not very much familiar with - something that is not so much as inconceivable but an idea that more or less begs the questions “why” and “how”. We have been institutionally and traditionally programmed that work is meant to be done at the office.
Then, not so many months ago (although feels like forever, to be honest), COVID-19 happened and we’re now navigating the “new normal”. Suddenly, the questions “why” and “how” should we work from home have been answered.
Why - obviously, companies want to curb the spread of the virus and a hundred different people using the same office elevator daily isn’t exactly a good way to do that. How - except for some very specific jobs that require onsite presence (e.g. manufacturing, production, etc), majority of companies have found a way to successfully transition their employees to working from home.
Working from home isn’t just a concept or an idea anymore, it has now become a reality for most of us. One of the requirements of this reality is having our “home office” - a place where we spend the majority of our day to accomplish work. If you already have a home office setup or you’re still in the process of making one, here are some tips to get you going:
Location, location, location
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should make every place in your house your work space. For your sanity and overall well-being, try to separate your workspace from the rest of your home activities. If you have the space, having a separate room dedicated as your home office is a good idea. It can still give you the feeling of “going to work”, minus the morning rush hour and commute.
If you don’t have a spare room, a dedicated space or a corner in your place where you can be undisturbed is good enough for a home office space. It would be good if your space has lots of natural light, but if none, make sure to provide for adequate lighting.
Bringing your laptop in the kitchen counter while you wait for your food to cook is okay, but as much as possible try to separate these activities so it doesn’t bleed into each other and you lose focus on the tasks you’re doing.
Invest in the right tools and equipment
You’re spending at least 8 hrs of your entire day in your home office - that’s more than enough reason to invest in items that will make your life easier and more comfortable. Investing in a sturdy, non-wobbly table is always a good idea because you don’t want to feel as if there is an earthquake while you type away your important report, right?
As you will be sitting for long periods, investing in an ergonomic chair that supports your back is also recommended for better posture. Working on your laptop may also cause eye strain and stiff neck - you can try investing in a laptop stand to raise your monitor to eye level and getting an external mouse and keyboard as well.
Making sure that all necessary items and gadgets are within reach like printers, papers, headphones (or coffee machine, anyone?), etc. will save you time and effort throughout the day.
Having an excellent internet connection is an important, if not the most important component in making sure that your work-from-home life is smooth. Stressing over intermittent connection isn’t exactly anyone’s definition of smooth. Make sure that your internet provider is steady and reliable - investing in signal boosting gadgets may also work.
If you have the space and the will for it, try putting indoor plants in your home office, too. They can help purify the air and counter irritants at the same time give you that much needed dash of green.
Take disciplined breaks
One common misconception about working from home is you constantly have to prove you’re working. Don’t panic if the last message on Slack for you was sent five minutes ago and you haven’t replied yet. You can’t be expected to be glued to your screen the entire office hours and you shouldn’t expect that from your workmates either. You’re entitled to breaks when you’re working in the office - what’s stopping you from taking the same breaks at home?
One surefire way to get fed up with something is to keep on doing it over and over to the point of saturation. No matter how much you love coding, or writing and no matter how nice, light and airy your home office is, you’re going to be sick of it if you don’t step away from it from time to time.
Schedule “disciplined” breaks throughout the day - that is to make sure that you strike a balance between just taking a break to clear your head and taking 1-hr Netflix breaks on the couch. Impose a “strictly-no-checking-of-laptop” day during the weekend to give you the mental space to draw a line between working and your actual life. Working from home and having a home office is meant to keep you safe from the virus while still being employed, it’s not meant to take over your life.
You must be thinking “Why should I go through so much trouble for all these when this setup is temporary?”. While this sentiment is valid and may very well be true for some people, investing in a fully functional home office isn’t just good for your 9-5 job. It can also be a space in your house that you can dedicate for creating things, personal plans and projects. A place where you can sit down, bury your head in a project you’re personally passionate about. It might even give birth to that side hustle you’ve always wanted to do!
No matter what or how you feel towards working from home, whether you’re living for it or you’re vehemently against it, there is no denying that for some people, it might just be the way moving forward, pandemic or not. Make the most of the opportunity while it’s here. Who knows? You might be positively surprised where it ends up taking you.