When you first got word that your job would transition to a temporary work-at-home position, you may have had visions of curling up cozily on your coach with your laptop perched just so. You’d be in your pajamas or your favorite pair of comfy clothes and life would be awesome. You’d find that perfect balance between productive and relaxed.
Then reality hit. The couch isn’t really a great substitute for a desk. It gets hard to balance the laptop after a while and, honestly, your wrists are starting to wish you’d just find a real chair and work surface instead of clinging to this work-at-home fantasy. Yet, this is temporary, you think. You don’t have the space, the budget, or the need to create a dedicated office in your home. Right? Wrong. Let’s talk this one through.
It is Temporary, but…
You may eventually return to your out-of-the-house office, but that could be many more weeks (months?) off. We’re talking about a duration that renders the “I don’t need a dedicated workspace because this is temporary” argument moot. You will be doing this long enough to make a dedicated workspace necessary. In addition, while you may be returning to an office in the future, there will be days where you’ll want to take a day or two to work from home. Maybe it’ll be a snow day. Maybe you’ll have a cold. Who knows. The point is that this space you create today won’t be forgotten and ignored once you get back into the groove of going to work.
Aim for Functional, Not Fancy
Maybe you’ve been binge-watching HGTV and you’ve seen your fair share of house-hunting couples insist that their new home includes a dedicated office so one (or both) of the homeowners can work from home in style. You’ve seen more magazine-worthy redesigns of such spaces to make you think that this task is going to require an investment. It’s not. Remember, for many of you, this is temporary. You don’t need to build standing walls and order a suite of professional-looking furniture. You just need a space that says, “This is where I work and it’s different from where I play.” That can be as simple as an old desk or table placed in a corner of your den. It can be a space on the island in your kitchen with your kids working on schoolwork at a table nearby. It can be that dining room table you only use for holidays and big family gatherings.
But Go Ahead and Make a “Wall”
If you want to distinguish your workspace from the rest of your space, go ahead and construct a “wall” of sorts. This may mean ordering a folding room divider (I love mine!). Maybe it’s a carefully draped quilt, or maybe it’s as simple as taping a line across the floor to signal to yourself and everyone else that this side of the line is work and that side is not.
Light it up!
You’re going to be more productive in a well-lit space. Trust me on this one. Move some lamps into your workspace if you need to. Set your desk close to a window and let the natural light in. Don’t be in the dark on this one!
Your notebooks, planners, vision board and assortment of other work-related tangible assets need a place to be. Don’t overwhelm yourself with ‘stuff’ by leaving your work things scattered near the space you’ve designated to be your office. Use an old cabinet, nightstand with drawers, or shelfing unit to stash your things. Create a sense of order while helping tame the sense of chaos that we’re all working through at the moment.
Take Notes from Vets
Working at home may be a temporary thing for you, but for many of us, this is our every day norm. Sure, we don’t usually juggle our work-at-home spaces while our kids are navigating school online and our partners are also conducting workdays in the same abode. Or maybe we do. The point here is that there are folks who are old hands at this work-at-home situation, and you can learn a lot from them. Start with this article: 4 Tips To Making Work at Home Work.