Amid the uncertainty that surrounds the Coronavirus, there are undoubtedly challenges taking place that will impact our daily life. These include how we work, and most importantly, where we work. With the likelihood that many, if not most of us, will be working from home for a while, it makes sense to consider some of these challenges and the “new normal” it may bring to our lives.
Common challenges and tips when working from home.
For most, once you get past the novelty of working in your pajamas, the reality of a daily work from home routine sets in and this will inevitably mean making some adjustments. However, with proper planning you’ll find you can be more productive, yet still enjoy all that working from home has to offer. To help prepare you and your environment for this new “workstyle”, here are some considerations and tips that may help you adapt, and even thrive in your new work surroundings.
First things first- create a productive work environment.
If you are like most people who are actively transitioning to a work from home lifestyle, you may not be ready to suddenly transform your home into your new workplace “epicenter”. Many of us live in homes or apartments with children or loved ones where a dedicated office space is or has been a low priority, that is up until now. Planning your new workspace and daily routine may be awkward or even challenging, however it is critical to your overall success. With this in mind, let's look at some key needs, considerations and solutions for your new home office:
Select the right space.
If the space in your home is limited, you may need to get creative. For some, even a walk-in closet can serve as a highly functional office space by removing the clothes pole or hanger rod and installing electrical connections. For some, you could even install a working desk at the top of some stairs. If you are like most people and plan on spending a lot of time in your home office, you may prefer a better view, so setting up your workspace near a window might offer some advantages. Also, try to identify space that is infrequently used, such as a guest room or dining area. With enough thought and planning, your working space will be able to provide you with the proper environment to enhance your productivity during this challenging time. Here at Tailored Living, we specialize in creating custom home offices with organization solutions built to meet your needs.
Plan for your essentials.
It’s wise to plan early for all the things you'll need to work comfortably and efficiently in your home office, while also keeping your project within budget. This includes selecting a workspace with proper temperature control and lighting. For seating, in most cases your desk chair will be moving around in the space, so ideally flooring should be a hard surface, at least near the desk. If you're fortunate to have a window nearby, select window coverings that will allow you to control the natural light in your room. Our sister brand, Budget Blinds, offers several window treatment solutions with an array of office-friendly features to choose from. If you don't have windows, then you will need to come up with suitable lighting sources that are conducive to a good working environment.
Optimize your workspace for storage and organization.
A successful work from home experience depends, in part, on ensuring your workspace is thoughtfully designed. Tailored Living can design a home office space with plenty of storage and organization tools, so you can spend more time being productive. While your desk and chair are likely to be your most important pieces of furniture, be sure to plan your home office so it reflects all the important aspects, such as shelving, office cabinets, bins, and custom designed work spaces. And for those with busy schedules, Tailored Living can even conduct a virtual design consultation that reflects your own tastes and sense of style.
Balancing work with children.
When working from home prepare to work some odd hours. That’s because balancing the two priorities of family and work mean you need to be flexible. Since most school districts are temporarily closed, those of us working from home may have children in the house while we attempt to remain productive in our work. During this difficult time, most employers will be sympathetic to those who have younger children. One solution is if you have a spouse or partner, try splitting your time, with you watching the children while the other works. Then after perhaps a couple of hours, trade off so you have a chance to work. You’ll find that by arranging to have quality work time the quality of your work will improve, and you will likely enjoy greater peace of mind knowing your little ones are being taken care of. If you don’t have the advantage of having a spouse or partner who can help watch your children, you’ll need to be more flexible, while paying close attention to keeping small objects, such as toys, in a safe place until you have time to devote to your little ones. One area to pay special attention to are your window coverings, where cords can become a safety concern. These should be secured and kept out of reach of littles ones as much possible.
Be sure you have a stable internet connection.
While you are likely used to the robust high-speed data and internet connections at your office, working from home productively means you’ll need to ensure your internet is capable of reliable and fast data speeds. Uploading and downloading heavy files requires adequate bandwidth so it’s a good idea to contact your internet provider and have them check your internet performance. A good speed for most in today’s workforce is 100 Mbps, but this can vary depending on your own unique requirements. A quick and reliable online resource for data speed testing is through Ookla Speed Test. Just as important as the speed however, is the reliability and stability, so be sure to use current, updated modem and router equipment to reduce internet downtime.
Keep your receipts.
Many employers may reimburse you for office and business-related expenses when working from home. From internet upgrades to closet conversions and modest office furniture purchases, even postage stamps and paper clips, it’s a good idea to save all your receipts. Even the most insignificant expenses can add up over time. If your employer won’t reimburse for these, many home office expenses are tax deductible. However, before deducting any of these expenses be sure to check with your qualified tax preparer or professional.
Working from home alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
During this work from home phase, most households will have more than one person home throughout their workday, but this may not be the case for everyone. For those who may be single, it’s important for their own emotional well-being to allow time for connecting with other co-workers or just a friend who might have a few minutes for conversation- via Skype, Facetime or Zoom. It’s recently been said that the new term, “social distancing” might be misnamed, and that we should really adopt the term, “physical distancing”, since we don’t want or need to adjust our social connections, just our physical boundaries. So be sure to take short breaks during the day for a phone call to a family member or loved one and see how they are coping during these challenging times. Chances are your phone call, video chat, email, or text message will put a smile on your face as much as those you interact with socially.
Make time for networking.
Although it’s easy to feel a bit isolated with your work from home lifestyle, networking can be a great way to stay connected during feelings of isolation. LinkedIn is easily accessible and allows you to stay in touch with other like-minded professionals. You can also stay up to date with industry trends relating to your work, or reach out to colleagues, even post industry-related topics to your LinkedIn contacts as a way to help establish yourself as a subject matter expert. And don’t forget to suggest meeting someone in person for a cup of coffee as long as you’re keeping your 6 foot “physical distancing” intact.
Whether you have an existing home office or are starting from ground zero, there are many ways to design and create a workspace that lets you take full advantage of working from home. At Tailored Living, our experienced designers can create and install the ideal home office that lets you work from home seamlessly, without sacrificing productivity. Rest assured that while this situation may be temporary, we’re in this together, and together we will emerge stronger and more productive than ever before.