Updated: Aug 16
With COVID-19 top of mind, a majority of us have had to pivot and rethink our living space to accommodate the new reality of working from home (and home school for those families with children). As such, there are some things you can do to ensure a smooth transition from a traditional office setting to a home office environment, optimizing the best we can to make working remotely most productive.
As a professional organizer, I've worked with many clients to set up a home office. Due to so many of you having a work from home status (at least for the short term) I wanted to share some Neat Little Nest tips around home office space as well as provide several considerations given that many of you are needing to create temporary work-from-home space with what you have on hand.
dedicate a space for your "office"
In an ideal world, remote employees would have a dedicated office and computer just for work, however we're not living in an ideal world right now, so the keys to success for everyone are patience and flexibility.
If you're lucky, you have an office "space" in your home that was just waiting to be used. For many though, this is not the case. If you don't have a room in your home/apartment created as office space, we recommend you set up an office in a spare bedroom or create a mock office by setting up an end table near a sofa or arm chair to place your computer. The point is that you might need get creative. Look at the furniture you have and the space you desire to use and think out of the box as to how you can make the best and most functional office area.
Try to set aside your working space from other areas of your home which will help you better avoid distractions and supports you getting your work done.
maximize your mobility
If you're working from home for the first time, you may not have a place arranged for longer term office work beyond what previously had been a quick weekend setup. This might mean you need to use a common space, like a kitchen table. If you find yourself needing to take over a common space, mobility will be key so that you can setup and put away at the end of day with ease.
One way to optimize that mobility is to use a grid to hold your electronics in place. This way, you can pack them up when you're finished.
Another way to increase mobility is to have a container to hold any papers you might need to work with on a daily basis. This could be a magazine holder, a small file box or even a cardboard box. I've curated some of my favorite office storage items here.
set ground rules
Setting ground rules with other people in your home is critical when it comes to establishing a work-from-home presence. If you have children, it is likely they are also home due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. This added challenge is one that everyone needs to work together on to manage. If both parents work, dividing up childcare/teaching and domestic labor is essential.
Some ground rules to consider might include expectations for:
cleaning up post meals after making/eating it
managing conference calls/private meetings
daily tidying - consider a #Focused15 approach
what are acceptable distractions during "work hours"
embrace a routine
Often when people are stressed they look for what they can control and creating structure can help calm nerves. In times of great duress, I recommend embracing a routine rather than adhering to a strict schedule. A routine has similar steps in a somewhat similar order like eating breakfast, getting dressed and prepping your mind for the day, but allows for flexibility so that you are not racing the clock which can lead to unnecessary tension and stress.
Want to learn more about my favorite routines, here is a post I wrote earlier this year on the power of routines.
embrace a flexible mindset
These are stressful times, so the number one way to improve productivity during your work day is to embrace a flexible mindset. As you enter this collective new world of working from home, give up any rigid ideals you have as they might not work under the current circumstances. Be prepared to keep your eyes open for what's working, what's not working and adjust accordingly. And if all else fails, just breathe. You're doing the best you can.
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