With many of us having to do our jobs from home right now, it can prove challenging to separate your career from the household chores. We must remember that just because you are in your home, doesn’t mean you can’t be productive and do a proper day’s work in such comfy surrounds. It could be a while before all of us are back in the office and some companies might decide they’re better off with their staff WFH (working from home.) If this is the case for you, here are some tips on how to create a productive workspace.
Are you sitting comfortably?
If you buy nothing else for your home office, a good chair is so important. Invest in the best you can afford and your back will thank you for it for in the long run. A kitchen stool or one of your dining chairs is okay for a short time if you’re only going to send a few emails but, it will not be comfortable for doing a full day’s work. It certainly won’t do your posture any favours. If like many people, you don’t have a spare room you can convert into a proper office and you need to make do with the kitchen table, at the very least get a good chair. Avoid sitting on the couch where you would normally relax and don’t lie on your bed with your laptop. These are ‘no work’ zones and, it’s essential to create some mental distance from your job and your downtime.
You can pick up chairs relatively cheaply from the high street and online retailers but do try and get the best for your budget.
You can always move it into a corner or hide it away in a cupboard when you’ve finished, signalling the end of the working day. You can then restore your dining space in time for tea!
A room with a view
In the absence of a spare room to be your designated office, an alcove or a recess can work well too.
If it’s possible, look on to a window. Natural light is helpful and, it’s also a good idea not to be looking at household items that will distract you from your day job. You won’t be operating at your best for writing a report or trying to conduct an online conference call if you’re staring at a pile of ironing or dirty dishes. The key is to separate your work/home mindset for the duration of your shift. It takes a little getting used to but, with time, you will get into the way of it.
If you are lucky enough to have a spare room, you can go to town on transforming it into a functional home office. One thing you must remember when creating your workspace is whether it has power points and a strong Wi-Fi signal. There’s no point in setting up all your kit only to find there’s nowhere to plug your computer in or if it’s the Wi-Fi blackspot in your house. Test all the areas before you decide to set up shop. Wi-Fi signal is crucial.
Another vital feature of your WFH space is the backdrop to any video conference calls. As you’ll have seen on TV lately when people are interviewed on Skype or Zoom, bookcases are popular. It may be coincidence or, it could be deliberate to show off all the literary classics they own. A plain wall will also suffice but whatever happens to be behind you, make sure there is no laundry drying on a radiator!
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid mess and clutter, especially if you’re working on several projects at the one time. However, it’s a good idea to put all your notes and documents into storage files or folders. These can be tucked away under your desk or on a shelf once you’ve finished with them. If you don’t have a separate room and need to make do with a corner of your lounge or bedroom, you can always style it up to match your décor so that it doesn’t look out of place. There are smart and tasteful storage files and chic boxes you can introduce.
WH Smith has a superb choice to suit every taste. Just because it’s a workspace, doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish as well as practical.
Dress to impress
Another good point to remember is that even though nobody can see you (unless you’re doing video calls), working at your desk in your pyjamas is not conducive to a work mindset. As many freelancers who already work from home will tell you, part of the discipline of self-employment or home-working is to get fully dressed every morning. You wouldn’t roll up to your office in your dressing gown so, make it part of the new routine from the outset. Assume your boss or a client might video call or turn up to see you at home – you will feel more confident if you’re suitably attired. We’re not suggesting you sit in a stuffy suit – although feel free to do so if that makes you more productive but at least put on a smart shirt or top and trousers.
As well as getting up at your regular time and getting dressed for work, try to be mindful of setting a daily routine and structure your day as you would at your city office. Make sure you stop for a proper lunch and avoid grazing. Your kitchen might be a few feet from your desk but that’s no excuse to raid the biscuit tin or the pantry every two minutes. It’s essential to take regular breaks when working from home too. Stand up, stretch those legs, wander around the house for a few minutes or try to go for a walk in the fresh air at least once. WFH will mean no commuting, but, it also means less exercise. That walk to and from the station every day burned off a few calories. Now that you’re not as active try and watch your intake and to avoid becoming too sedentary.
Home-working can be beneficial for many reasons – reducing traffic pollution, creating a better work/life balance and so forth. However, the key to making it a success is to separate your work mindset from your ‘at home’ persona. When the working day is over, switch off and be clear on a finishing time for business calls. Setting boundaries is important for you, your employer, and your family. By following some of these handy hints and tips, you’ll get the balance just right.