Working from home, at least part of the time, now appears to be a permanent fact for many of us. It has pros and cons, less commuting being one of the advantages, having to put up with Zoom meetings being one of the downsides.
An efficient, comfortable work space makes working from home a more pleasurable and productive experience. Even if you’re retired, having a space to manage your household affairs or just get off by yourself for a while is a smart idea.
Here are our top tips on working from home:
Be kind to your posture
If you’re spending more than just a couple of hours a day sitting in your home office, invest in an ergonomic chair. It won’t necessarily be beautiful and will cost a little more, but its posture-positive effects make it worth every penny. When you go shopping, take a book or laptop and spend 20 minutes in the chair to ensure it’s for you.
More posture wisdom: Give your neck a break by setting your computer screen at eye level, even if it’s a laptop. A couple of book under your laptop will raise it to the right level.
An office companion
Despite what you may have read or heard, houseplants don’t significantly improve air quality. But, sharing your work space with another living thing and caring for it will brighten your mood. Snake plants, aloe and spider plants are all vigorous and low-maintenance. However, if you find yourself talking to the plant it may be time for a short break.
Despite what some designers and others say, the jury is out on whether colours affect our mood to any real extent. Still, it’s worth noting that greens and blues are often thought of as calming colours, yellow may promote optimism and energy (think of cheerful spring flowers), and red is sometimes said to stimulate passion and also energy. According to a University of Texas study, blue may increase focus under certain conditions. Conclusion? Go with the colours that speak to you most strongly.
Digital transactions mean less stationery and fewer file folders, but we still need storage space in our home offices. Instead of efficient but institutional-looking metal filing cabinets, try repurposing an old bureau (painting it a bright colour can transform it), relying more on open shelving or using a bookcase. Depending on where you put your office, a bedroom closet or even a kitchen cabinet makes another great storage space. To store pens and pencils, a mason jar lends a vintage touch to your desk and you can easily see what’s inside.
A corner in the kitchen, a spot in a loft, a space in a basement family room, even a spare closet or hallway niche suffices for an office if you have a smaller home. Bright colours and lively artwork like nature paintings enliven a dark area such as a closet. A desk with lots of open space beneath it lets you put your printer on a rolling platform and keep items like waste containers out of the way. Remember: clutter makes small spaces feel even smaller. More ideas here.
More tips for working from home
- Make your work day feel like one by wearing something approximating office wear. Pajamas don’t inspire a working frame of mind.
- Nourish your body and mind by eating a good breakfast and lunch.
- Look your best on video calls by having a light behind and a bit above your screen to illuminate your face properly.
- Refresh yourself by taking breaks just as you would if you were in a regular office. That means getting up and walking away from your work area and not eating a lunchtime sandwich in front of your screen.
- At the end of the work day, shut off your computer for the night. It’s too easy when working from home to let your office time extend into personal time.