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Working from home is a both a pleasure and a trial – you don’t have the rush hour traffic to deal with, but it can be a challenge getting yourself into work mode without that distinct transition.
Whether you work from home because you’re self-employed or because your employer offers remote working, the key to success lies in getting your workspace carved out.
When you work from home, you have more freedom to choose your own work method and style. If you don’t want a desk, you don’t have to have one.
So, it’s just as important to consider your personal comfort as it is to think about how to convert existing areas in the house. Maybe, for instance, you’d rather work from an armchair with your laptop on your knee. That’s fine.
The only thing that really matters is that you have easy access to materials or tools, so you don’t have to interrupt your workflow while you go and hunt for a pencil or a notebook.
Beside your work area have:
- A table with drawers. Everything gets tucked away when not in use but is handy when you want it.
- A plug socket. You need to keep your computer charged, and maybe your phone or tablet.
- Motivational materials. Pictures, quotes, photos, or books can all help to keep you going when mental energy needs a boost.
If you don’t need a formal work area, you don’t have to have one. Organise things so you’re comfortable and you can be just as efficient as someone working from a traditional office.
These are so important when your home is also your office. Without them, your work/life balance goes up the chute and you’re more prone to burnout and all the health problems that can cause. So, it’s worth taking it seriously.
Psychological boundaries can be almost as effective as solid ones. If you don’t have a separate room you can commandeer, this is your next best option. It can work for you, but also reinforce the concept of being at work with family members, especially children.
Trying to work with small children around is doubly challenging but sometimes necessary if childcare isn’t available all the time. You may need to strike a deal with them if they’re old enough, such as offering treats or play time if they give you a few minutes to finish.
You can create psychological barriers in a few different ways that can work to make work or office areas in living rooms or kitchens:
- With curtains or wall hangings. This depends on your room size and shape, but a simple curtain can provide a surprising amount of privacy. Even a bead curtain can help to cordon off an area, with the added advantage that you can keep an eye on what’s happening on the other side.
- With bookcases. If you stand the bookcase so it’s perpendicular to the wall, you can create an effective screen. Use the shelves for office supplies, alternate which way the books face in open-backed units, or decorate the backs of taller, closed units as though they were a wall. Trailing plants add a bit of extra decor style as well as more privacy.
- Room dividers. With folding, transportable screens you can position the screen exactly where you need it.
You might need to rearrange the layout of the room, possibly using self storage for items that you need to remove, but if working from home is a long-term feature in your life, it’s worth it and storage unit prices might be lower than you imagine.
The Spare Room
While it’s lovely having a separate room for dining or a spare bedroom for occasional guests, working from home might mean sacrificing it to make an office.
Converting any room so you can use it for a different purpose is going to involve reorganising your furnishings. You don’t, however, have to part with anything. It’s another reason to investigate self storage so you have somewhere to stow your original furniture.
- Converting Dining Rooms – Swapping a large dining table for a drop leaf style can give you the best of both worlds, creating more floor space and making room for a desk. If they’re the right height, you could use a dining chair as your office chair but watch out for stresses and strains on your body over time. Office chairs are designed to be more ergonomic.
- Converting Spare Bedrooms – Save bedroom furnishings in self storage when you move them out to make room for office fittings. In larger rooms, freestanding wardrobes could stay and double as stationery storage or office supplies. A second idea for bigger rooms would be to invest in a day bed so you have a comfortable sitting space but can quickly make a bed for a guest.
Getting your work area right makes working from home much more of a pleasure. You might need to experiment with location and types of furnishings or seating, but nothing needs be cast in stone. If working by a window sounded good but isn’t great in practice, change position.
Home working can be a great liberator once you find the right work/home life balance.