While remote working is not a new concept, in 2020 many companies have had no choice but to close their offices and send their employees home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and being in public spaces becoming potentially treacherous.
After allowing employees to work from home for an extended period of time, many companies may find that the situation suits their needs and is even beneficial. The employees who may be working remotely for the long haul may want to learn how to set up an efficient, yet comfortable, home office.
Because so many people began working from home without much time to prepare, it’s easy to see how many had no choice but to patch together home workspaces quickly and without much forethought. There are some ways, however, that may help make a home workspace more comfortable and more productive.
1. Refreshing the Home Office
For those lucky enough to have a dedicated home office space, it may be time to give that area a little refresh. Even though corporate office spaces tend to be a little drab, a home office doesn’t have to be.
Painting a home office a cheery color and making the space feel homey with the addition of a couch, a rug, or pictures on the walls will make a home office a welcoming place to spend Monday through Friday.
Of course, a home office needs to be practical, too. Finding an organization system to keep office supplies and files neatly stored will provide some much needed peace of mind during busy work days.
When setting up a home office, it can be helpful to think about what systems were appealing in the workplace and which were more of a hindrance. Customizing the space to fit personal preferences and needs is one of the perks of working from home.
2. Taking Over the Guest Bedroom
For those who don’t have a separate room to dedicate to a home office, it can be tricky to strike a clear balance between work and play. Working in the bedroom or on the family room couch can make it difficult to mentally separate work time from personal time.
A guest bedroom can be an ideal spot in the home to add a desk. The space is likely unused most days of the year and the worker can easily shut the door during the workday when they need privacy. They can also shut the door after a long day of work when they need to feel like they are at home and not at work. Out of sight, out of mind.
A guest bedroom may also be easy to keep tidy, as most members of the household probably don’t spend too much time in that room of the house.
3. Renovating the Garage
If a guest bedroom isn’t an option, a garage may be an ideal space to build a home office. This project may require renovations, but this space feels very separate from the rest of the home, which can be appealing.
Adding flooring, installing heating and cooling systems, and adding lighting—task and ambient—may go a long way towards making this space both comfortable and functional. A coat of paint in a color that promotes productivity might help, too.
4. Rethinking Your Desk
For homeowners with a big family or apartment renters who are embracing the studio lifestyle, it might be hard to squeeze in another large piece of furniture. A kitchen table or dining room table can serve double duty and provide plenty of space to spread out.
If multiple members of the household are working from home, this large space can even act as a coworking space of sorts. After all, bumping into a loved one in the break room (aka the kitchen) might be a nice surprise during a stressful workday.
The key to making this work is to make this “office” portable. Having a tote bag or storage box to stash any work supplies at the end of the day will be ideal when it’s time to eat dinner. Finding ways to remove those work vibes from a personal space is important for fostering good work-life balance.
5. The Right Support
No matter what place in the home someone decides to make their workspace, it’s important to have supportive seating. Having the right chair can make all the difference, and in many cases function is much more important than aesthetics.
Having a chair that was specifically designed to provide proper back and neck support during long work days is key.
An ergonomic chair that includes features such as adjustable height, tilt control, lumbar support, and solid padding can all make the workday a bit more comfortable.
6. Setting the Scene
While having the right tools—desk, chair, computer, etc.—is important to building a successful home office, working in the right atmosphere is important, too. Spending the first 10 minutes of the workday setting the scene can be a major game changer.
For those working from home while other members of the household are working, attending virtual school, or simply existing loudly (hello, adorable but noisy babies), creating an appropriate workplace atmosphere may lead to better focus and productivity.
Start by giving the workspace a little spruce and clear out any unnecessary clutter. Put on some light background music that isn’t distracting (think classical or nature sounds) to block out any unwanted noise. Write a to-do list that prioritizes tasks for the day.
7. Being Zoom Ready
Having a space that is appropriate for video calls is essential for looking professional at home. Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangout calls don’t have to take place at a desk if the background isn’t ideal. Present your best self in a quiet spot in the home with good lighting and a clean background.
8. Getting Inspired
In an ideal world, all workspaces would inspire workers, allowing them to feel creative. One of the advantages of working from home is the ability to have more control over the surroundings, making it an inspiring, creative workspace.
Decorating the space in favorite colors; adding photos of loved ones, favorite vacations, or hobbies; incorporating a vision board; or keeping a brainstorming journal at the ready are some ways to make the environment one where there is room for creativity and inspiration.
9. Adding a Standing Desk
In your home office, you make the rules. If you don’t want to sit for eight hours a day—who can blame you?—using a standing desk or adding a standing desk converter is a good way to incorporate some movement into the workday.
10. A Room with a View
Last but not least, setting up a home office to take advantage of any pleasant views might bring some peace, calm, and inspiration into the space. Facing a desk towards a window, French doors, or any other space in the home that has a view of the outdoors or even just greenery in another part of the home can be stress reducing.
While some employers might offer stipends or reimbursements for setting up a home office properly, many employees may have to foot the bill themselves. This expense can be worthwhile, but may not be one that many workers planned for.
For those who need help financing that new home office space or purchasing furniture, there are a few options that may be worth considering.
Personal Loans. A personal loan can be used for personal, family, or household purposes, including home renovation. SoFi personal loans have low, fixed rates and no fees.
Home Equity Loan. A home equity loan is a financing option that may be available to some homeowners. This form of credit uses the home’s equity as collateral on the loan. Home equity loans can have either fixed or adjustable interest rates, terms similar to mortgages (i.e., up to 30 years), and tax-deductible interest in some cases.
Home Improvement Loans. To make financing home improvement projects feasible, SoFi offers home improvement loans. A home improvement cost calculator can be helpful for learning how much of a dent the project might put in your wallet. The average online approval process for SoFi home improvement loans takes seven days, no collateral is required, and there are absolutely no fees.
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