Many people started to work remotely during lock down. Some had to find new ways to do business. It is thus more important than ever, to create a dedicated office space or area where you can work. A place where you can focus on things at hand and step away more easily when you need a break or you have finished at “the office” for the day.
So how can you set up an efficient office space at home? A place where you actually want to work and one that is neat for when you meet your customers or team online or when you get visitors?
1. Assess your needs
Setting up an inspiring home office that is functional and pleasing is a simple process. Find a tranquil space that is conducive to work. Privacy and quiet is essential for you to be able to focus on what needs to be done.
Determine what your needs are, how much space you actually need. Each person is different: one might need a desk with an extra surface to spread papers, a filing cabinet and a printer. Another might only need a space for their laptop to get the work done; another might need a space where he can meet with clients.
Whatever your needs are consider getting an ergonomic chair, as you spend hours at your desk and ensure that your desk or table is the right height. I promise you, your body will thank you for it!
So what is it that you need?
2. Be creative
There are many ingenious ideas to create a home office. Look for ideas on the web or pinterest if you’re stuck, having to find a space that might work. Not everyone has a room that they can use as an office. It needs some careful thought, without infringing on the aesthetics of your family home. I have seen beautiful work spaces created in the smallest of spaces. It is key that it fits your personality, if you love the space it will be much nicer working in it!
It can be a small nook with a desk and storage space in a passage, a workspace created in a cupboard where the hanging space became the desk space, a bookshelf transformed with a shelf that is wider which is used as a desk. If all else fails, try putting a small desk in your bedroom against the window, at least you’ll have a nice view. Some people work at a kitchen island or dining room table. If this is you, find ways to put the business stuff out of sight after work or when visitors come. A stylish tray with your laptop and stationery can do the trick to easily take out or stash your office on a shelf or in a drawer.
Keep everything within easy reach when organising your office. Every time you get up to find something your workflow is interrupted and time is wasted. Set up systems that will make it easy to keep clean and organised and little hands away from your important papers. I for instance, need my punch, stapler and stationery close at hand. I can reach my filing cabinet by just turning sideways, which makes for an efficient work space. Start small and add items as the need arises.
3. Personalise your space
I love work spaces that exude the personality of the person working there. Hang art or place items that you love on your shelves. Add natural greenery, which will immediately lift your mood. Organisational accessories need to be beautiful to inspire you and to make you actually want to work there. Keep the space clean, tidy and clutter-free. There is nothing more soul destroying then having to look for stuff on an untidy desk.
Good lighting and especially natural light improves productivity and mood, it contributes to your physical and mental well being. Use LED lamps that mimic daylight or warm white bulbs in a lamp on your desk if you need to work at night.
Working remotely should be no different than you going to the office. You can be a little more lenient about the time you actually work, but do create clear boundaries for family, friends and co-workers. It can be very tempting to drop everything when your little one comes in for a hug, your puppy begs for a walk or neighbours pop in for a cup of tea. On the other hand your team can expect you to be available all the time and before you know it, the whole day is gone and you haven’t done what you had intended to.
Be clear about when, where and how communication is to happen. This will bring clarity and structure for everyone to work productively and to reduce stress. Communicate with your family and staff when you need absolute quiet while you are in a meeting or when it is okay to be interrupted. It is also important that your colleagues know what time they can contact you and that you will not be available 24/7. You owe this much to yourself and your family.
People will respect your time if you let everyone know that you have work to do and that you are serious about it. There will be times where you have to close your door to focus on the tasks at hand. If your bigger children disrupt you all the time, get yourself a “don’t disturb” or “no entry” sign for your door. Once you are finished for the day, stick a sign with “closed for business” on the door to prevent yourself from working overtime, forgetting about dinner and your family.
By creating boundaries for yourself and others, you’ll have less stress, be more productive and at the same time enjoy a better work-life balance.
5. Virtual Meetings
Look for a place in your home where you can have privacy and a good background for your virtual meetings. It doesn’t look professional if you are just a black silhouette, your desk is cluttered or you have dirty dishes in the background. Try to mask out general family noise during this time.
Many of us learned to embrace technology and reliable apps during this time. A modern office needs a secure and reliable internet connection. Use wireless devices if you can. Hide ugly cables in trunking. Keep the pathways clear of the cable snakes lying on the floor.
Look at investing in a UPS and a surge protector to ease the way for electricity cuts and load shedding.
Make your data accessible across multiple devices or use cloud back-up to access your files from anywhere. Do your system maintenance, like back-ups, updates and virus checks to avoid unnecessary downtime. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down for a virtual meeting, only to realise that your computer wants to do an update!
The most difficult thing in working from home is not to be distracted. Doing everything else that you always wanted to do, whilst you were at the office.
Create a routine similar to the one you had before, when going to the office. This will prevent decision fatigue as you know exactly when what needs to be done. Isn’t it just wonderful working from home? Now you have extra time to meditate or exercise seeing that you don’t need to brave hours in peak traffic. Get up and be ready to be the most productive you. Prioritise your goals and decide what you are planning to achieve on a daily basis.
Have a start and end to your workday with breaks in between. Let your team know when you sign off for the day and when you’ll be available again.
8. Consider yourself
After you have been working for a couple of hours you should take a break! What can be nicer than sit and drink your coffee out in the garden or have lunch with the family? This will do wonders for your well-being. “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” – former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Look after yourself and stay safe.
I trust that this helps you on your way to a good life-work balance in your tranquil office at home! Should you need assistance or want some ideas please contact me.