Where do you work?
This question used to mean ‘Who is your employer?’, but with more and more people working from home, and more of those people looking for ideas on how to manage a home office environment successfully, the question raises issues about what is effective and what isn’t when working from home.
The transition from, “This is temporary and the spot on the couch will suffice” to, “I wonder if my boss will let me work from home permanently” has been a journey for many households – mine included.
Initially, dining room tables were commonly transformed into home office spaces. It was the natural spot to accommodate laptops and work piles. Many people learned quickly – my husband included – that working at the dining room table for eight hours is, well, unpleasant. We ended up transforming a room of our home to suit our needs, and I see many people doing the same.
Where you put your desk is up to you and depends on your space. Formal dining rooms can be easy to convert, as many people seldom use such space regularly, and replacing a big table and chairs with a sleek desk can make sense. However, there are other options as well.
A friend of mine has converted a closet by building a desk inside, and lining the back wall with shelves. Another friend used a corner of their upstairs loft. Yet another is working on converting their “she shed” to a cute office space (they are still working on the heating and cooling aspect). Regardless of location, it is important to have as much lighting as possible, and position the work space away from high-traffic areas to help minimize disturbances. It is also important to make sure you have items placed properly, to minimize back ache and neck strain by the end of the day.
Once you figure out location, you need to have the structure of the day in place as well. Have a conversation with the family to set boundaries, and help them recognize that when you are in work mode, you cannot be disturbed. You can alert everyone that work mode is in effect by turning on a desk lamp or hanging a colored cloth to be seen by all – anything works as long as everyone recognizes it as the symbol for quiet.
It is also a good idea to plan break times. At an office you would likely not be sitting at your desk for an entire eight hours of work. You would take a break and visit or get a snack – and you should do that at home too. Make the kitchen fridge the new water cooler. Have a set time each day when the family can meet, grab a snack, visit, and maybe even play a quick board game or go for a walk. Anything to break the monotony of the day helps and, just like at work, it will be a point in the day that everyone looks forward to.
With a little planning, your office space and home office routine can mesh smoothly in a home setting.
Claire-Anne is a West Side Realtor helping people make Hendricks County their home. You can reach her at 317-345-6640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.