Ah, 2020, who would have believed it? The pandemic and ‘the lockdown’ have been going on for 5 months, many people have faced severe financial hardship and tragically many lives have been lost to the COIV-19 virus.
For those of us who have been lucky enough to carry on working & earning throughout lockdown, a home office is an essential part of the house to invest in, especially if remote working is going to be long-term adaptation. Having a specific space to work from helps set boundaries both physically and mentally between work and home. If you have children who have been off from school, the juggling act of being a parent, teacher and full-time employee has probably been a real challenge. Having a specific working space or home office, getting up early and having a schedule, are all tips that can help you to manage.
Location – Where Should You put the Office?
A good home office is streamlined for the work that you need to do. But this is not always really possible if you do not have lots of space.
The first thing to consider is the location – wherein the house are you going to set up your office? If you don’t have space at home to dedicate a whole room to your office, consider purchasing a computer desk. Ideally, the desk could have some shelves and a pull-out tray for your laptop or keyboard, but it could just as easily be a simple flat table with no frills. Vertical storage helps to prevent the area from becoming too cluttered.
A home office in a utility room
Anywhere corner of a room can be converted into a workstation with a table and chair. Even a closet can be used if you apply a little creativity to the work setup. Try and choose somewhere with some natural light and somewhere with the least distractions from family, TV etc.
A floor mat or rug can create the feeling of a designated-space or separate area from the rest of the room.
Across the internet and websites such as Linkedin, there have been some amazing home-office transformations, using sheds, utility rooms or a corner of the bedroom.
Storage ideas have also been fun to see. Ladder desks are one way of adding extra storage room.
Decorative baskets can also provide effective storage solutions for your office and a hanging organizer is a great way to add significant amounts of storage space to minimise any clutter.
If you don’t mind doing a bit of home improvement or DIY, you can copy the layout of Matthew Encina’s home office and use a BESTA TV unit from IKEA as a storage cabinet:
A TV Unit mounted above the home office workspace – Image Source
Natural light is often considered the best form of light for an office.
Another good thing about natural light is that it’s free and doesn’t have any carbon emissions. Also, research suggests that natural light in offices, is not only good for us, but it makes us more productive (more information here).
Unfortunately, the body cannot make vitamin D when enjoying sunlight through a window, as the glass filters out the UVB rays. If you want to enjoy the full mental and physical health benefits associated with the sun, then you can invest in a SAD lamp or spend your morning working outdoors.
The main problem with working outdoors is the glare from the sun on your laptop. You can buy ‘laptop hoods’ online but they tend to be quite expensive. You can also buy trays with sun-shades, designed for holding drinks, which also provide a decent amount of shade – some people have even used cardboard boxes!
If you are working indoors, the ideal desk lamp has controls that allow you to adjust the colour and brightness. This is great if you are working late at night, especially when combined with a blue-light filter on your computer.
Business Owners – Hire a Virtual Receptionist
If you run your own business, the transition from office to remote-working may have been especially hard, more so if you have children that are not in school. If you are struggling with the constant interruptions and the lack of structure that the home often provides, then consider hiring a virtual receptionist.
A virtual receptionist from a quality provider like Moneypenny can filter out any unnecessary phone calls so that you can focus on the work at hand and not get interrupted every 10 minutes. The dedicated receptionist will know your business as well as a full-time hire, adding a level of professionalism that will no doubt impress some of your callers. With a 24/7 service, you can also enjoy your evenings interruption-free (unless there’s an emergency), and switch-off knowing that all your sales leads and customer queries are being dealt with.
If budget allows, you could also consider hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants from the Philippines come highly recommended by several entrepreneurs (see this video for example) and typically cost between $3 and $6 per hour. If you are bogged down with administrative tasks, or low-skill repetitive projects, consider adding a virtual assistant to your home-office work setup. With no payroll or paperwork to worry about, they can free up lots of your time. You can hire a virtual assistant from a website such as onlinejobs.ph
Remember that if you work from home and you are self-employed, in most countries you will be able to claim some expenses back when filing your accounts.
Working from home, especially in the time of a pandemic, can be a stressful experience. With wellbeing in mind, consider investing in some office plants, a massage cushion, an aromatherapy diffuser and even a grounding matt.