So you’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to work from home. Perhaps you’ve handed in your notice and are patiently waiting out your final thirty days, dreaming of the days you can work on your own time. Maybe you’re keeping your current job, but you’ve managed to negotiate working from home. Whatever your circumstance, working from home can be great – it can be relaxing, casual and challenging all at once, and having a familiar environment in which to work can be beneficial.
Of course, working from home does mean you’ll need the right environment. After all, if you simply set up a computer in your living room and your family is also using that room for entertainment, that’s not going to be conducive to a productive work session. Here are 5 ways you can create the perfect home office and make your environment work for you.
Decorate well – but tastefully
A great question to ask yourself when you’re decorating your home office is “would I have this on a desk in an office?”. Of course, you’re free to adorn your home office environment however you like – that’s just one of the many perks of working from home – but you still want decorations that aren’t going to interfere with your work or distract you. Tasteful, considered options are still best.
…but make it yours
Even though you should decorate as inoffensively as possible, the room should still feel like your own. How about a bespoke photoshoot of your family for your desk? In particularly busy or tough moments your family can keep you going, and you’ll always have that memory to make you smile when things are trying. For the walls, it’s probably best to display minimalistic art – abstract is fine, but abrasive or confrontational works probably won’t do. The trick is to find a middle ground between boring and overly stimulating.
If you can, it’s best to situate your home office as far from distractions as possible. If you live in the city and your apartment has multiple rooms, try to pick the one furthest from noise or other sensory stimulation. Picking a room that’s not going to soak up sound from other rooms in the house is also a great idea. For most people, disconnecting the computer from the Internet won’t work – many home workers rely on the Internet to do their jobs – but if you find yourself working on a project that doesn’t require you to be connected, then making sure you can’t absentmindedly navigate to Chrome and play that dinosaur game is probably for the best.
Get the right equipment
When building a home office, it’s tempting to imagine yourself filling the room with everything a home office typically contains. Realistically, though, you only need the equipment that your job demands. Everything else is surplus to requirements and probably a waste of money and time to install. If you’re a copywriter, for example, you probably only need a computer and an Internet connection – you’ve got a smartphone for emergency communication (probably) and you aren’t likely to be doing much hard paperwork. Think about what your job needs and don’t over-accessorise.
If you work at an office, you might have had conversations with HR about proper positioning and health and safety while in the workplace. You might have been offered ergonomic wrist rests, foot rests and other health aids designed to keep your body from stiffening while you’re typing. Your home office won’t contain these things by default, though, so you’ll need to source it all yourself – don’t scrimp, because your health is vitally important. We’re talking a proper ergonomic work chair, wrist and foot rests, and implementing regular breaks to stop the screen from damaging your eyes. Look after yourself and you’ll be thankful when you aren’t struggling with your health years down the line.
Devise – and implement – a schedule
It’s extremely tempting to simply work whenever you like in a home office, but that would be a mistake. If you work to a regular schedule, just like you would at a regular place of employment, it will help you to keep work and home life separate, and to maximise your productivity while you are working.
It’s OK to take occasional breaks – after all, you would allow yourself the same luxury in an office – but keeping to a regular schedule is very important for you and your family. That doesn’t mean it has to be a strict 9 to 5 schedule; you can adequately decide what kind of time the demands of your job require, and adjust your day accordingly. Just make sure that you do keep a schedule, because if you don’t you’ll soon find yourself unable to distinguish between home and work life.