The coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our ordinary lives. Handshakes are dangerous, going out to lunch is no longer an option, and far too many people have lost their jobs. If you’re fortunate enough to have a digital career, and a company able to function remotely, then half the battle is already won. What you need now is a place to work, and the only one available is home.
You could sit on the couch with your laptop…until your quarantined kids start blasting the T.V. Dive into those spreadsheets in the dining room…before packing it all up to serve dinner. Post up on the patio? Oh, but it looks like rain… Quickly you realize, to truly be productive, a solitary space is required. Here’s how to create a home office in a hurry, so you can get back to work!
Location Location Location
The best solution is to turn a rarely used room into an office. A guest room, basement, attic, pool house, or room of a kid who’s away at college all make suitable choices. With no extra room available, it’s time to get creative! Empty walk-in closets make great offices in a pinch, as do spacious laundry rooms and pantries. When there really is nowhere to spare, the quiet corner of a large room will do as a temporary workspace, as will a kitchen bar or breakfast nook.
Shelves and Storage
Your desk or office-away-from-home probably has filing cabinets, shelves, bins, and other accessories for organization and storage. Your home office needs them too, lest you soon find yourself swimming in a sea of papers, staples, and other supplies. There’s no need to purchase bulky bookcases and dedicated depositories, especially if your remote work is temporary. Instead, clear off some shelves you already have, buy a few binders, and throw your pens and paperclips in plastic cups. If the room you’re using has an empty closet, consider adding some basic shelves and plastic containers to keep the clutter at bay.
Though it’s not necessary to spend a mint on your home office storage solutions, your desk and chair are a completely different story. Sitting at your computer on a bar stool or kitchen seat can cause back problems after only an hour; imagine how you’ll feel at forty a week. Invest in an ergonomic chair with the following features, and you’ll be sitting pretty (and comfortably) all day:
- Lumbar support
- Adjustable armrests
- Height adjustment
Now that you have a posture-perfect chair, it’d be a shame to wheel it up to a card or kitchen table. You’re going to be working at your desk for hours at a time, so make sure it’s functional and comfortable. Ensure your desk is large enough to hold your computer and/or monitor(s), keyboard, phone, mouse, and anything else you need within reach. If you enjoy taking hand-written notes, or draw for a living, leave enough room for a pad of paper and some pens. For your health, consider a flexible desk that allows you to sit or stand while working. The final step is to place your computer in the proper position to protect your neck and eyes:
- The monitor should sit at least 20 inches from your eyes
- Keep the top of the screen slightly below eye level
- Tilt the monitor back about 15 degrees so you’re looking down at the screen at an angle
- Ensure your spine stays in the neutral position
Let There be Light
Hopefully, your home office resides in a room with plenty of windows, allowing for natural light during the day. Sunlight conserves energy and has been shown to boost mood and possibly even productivity. Windows or not, it’s important to work with adequate light to avoid eye strain and headaches. Even if your room has overhead lighting, it’s insufficient for hours spent staring at a screen and may even cast a glare. Desk lamps are relatively inexpensive and can be adjusted to shine exactly where you need them.
Research has shown that plants make people happy, while their absence can cause physical and mental stress. If you have room, consider a large potted plant (or three) in the corner of your home office. If you’re working within a small space, placing a plant on your desk will still brighten up your mood. Bringing a bit of nature indoors can also increase focus, banish boredom, and make you feel relaxed and refreshed.
We’re counting the days until we can all work together again at Office Partners on Pearl. Until then, we hope these suggestions assist you in setting up an amazing home office, as you safely shelter-in-place. Should you need anything in the meantime, we’re always here to help.