A lot of office employees have been working from home since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. For some, it’s a long-awaited dream come true, while others are lost because it’s a completely new situation. One important thing that shouldn’t be underestimated for working productively at home is your working environment – after all, you spend several hours a day there.
In this article, we will give you some tips on how to design and organize your workspace.
1. Choose a suitable location for your workspace
Remember that you spend quite a few hours a day at your desk. So, it should be in a nice place in your apartment or house. There’s no sense in putting it in an unheated bedroom, for example, if it’s so cold that you’re just going to end up under a blanket on the sofa. If possible, place it in a bright and warm area, while making sure to avoid glare on the screen.
Some other important aspects are peace and quiet and few distractions – if your family watches TV in the living room, that’s definitely not the place for you. If working from home is only temporary and the needs of several people have to be met, you may need to be a bit more flexible and move between rooms. But this shouldn’t become a permanent arrangement.
2. Pay attention to ergonomics
Just like in your office, you should also pay attention to healthy posture at home. The sofa is surely a tempting place to work. But after you’ve spent 8 hours there, you (or your back) will come to the painful realization that it isn’t good for your posture. The wrong working posture can cause serious damage to your back in the long run. If it’s foreseeable that you are going to be working from home for a long time, you should preferably invest in an ergonomic desk and a matching desk chair. You can also ask your employer if they will subsidize the furniture.
However, if you’re going to be working at your regular office again 5 days a week after the Corona crisis, that kind of investment makes little sense. Nevertheless, you should still watch your posture. Always take breaks and move around – maybe take a short walk through the neighborhood – and try to change your working posture regularly.
Tip: A ball pillow that you place on your work chair is an inexpensive acquisition that you can later use at the office. It forces you to constantly adjust your sitting posture, which in turn trains your back muscles.
3.Furnish your workplace the way you like
Once you’ve found a suitable place for your workspace, you should give it some personality. That will also make it more enjoyable for you when you’re working. From patterned file folders to flowering potted plants, you should treat yourself to something beautiful for your desk. But don’t overdo it because too much can be a distraction. For example, avoid tear-off calendars with daily puzzles or the like because they are an excellent invitation to read when you’re faced with an unpleasant task that you would rather postpone. You know what we mean…
Also, make sure you have everything you need for the job within easy reach. If you have to get up every time you have to punch a hole in a sheet of paper or need a paper clip, your concentration will always be thrown off, which will affect your workflow.
4. Separate the professional from the private
Ideally, you should set up a separate room at home so you can just close the door behind you at the end of the workday. If the transition between home and office is fluid, you will no longer feel comfortable in your own four walls in the long run because your thoughts will be focused on work from morning to night.
For a lot of people who were still working at an office until a few days ago, a separate home office isn’t an option because they will probably have to go back to their regular office after a few weeks anyway. However, it’s still important that you set up a fixed workspace, at least temporarily, which serves only one purpose. That will make it easier for you to work in a disciplined way. It can even be a small corner in your living room or bedroom. And if you need the table for other things, you should at least keep your workspace out of view after the end of the workday. That could mean, for example, that you clear the desk completely and store your supplies in a mobile container or cupboard. You could also use a room divider to visually separate your workspace from the living room.
5. Pay attention to the right clothing
The thought of spending the whole day in comfortable, baggy clothing is surely tempting. But it isn’t a good idea, because your clothes unconsciously affect your working posture. If you’re wearing pajamas, you will probably find it difficult to put yourself in the mood to work. Of course, you don’t have to sit at your desk in a suit or business attire. It’s best to wear comfortable but neat clothes that you would also wear at the office. Make sure your clothes are clean and your blouse or shirt is ironed – then you’ll always be ready for spontaneous video calls and always look professional even in front of your home screen.
6. Make sure you aren’t disturbed
Whether it’s your partner, children, flatmate, or pet: Those who live with you need to learn that working from home doesn’t mean free time. You need quiet to make progress – because even if you interrupt your work “only very briefly,” it will take quite a while before you can concentrate on your work again. In the end, that means that you will spend more time on your tasks and have less free time in the evening.
If you’re working from home and also need to look after your children at the same time because schools and daycare centers are closed due to the Corona crisis, this can be especially difficult. You can certainly make arrangements with older children because they can also do things on their own. Try to find childcare for younger children or coordinate with the other parent.
Our personal tip: If you really can’t go out during a curfew, talk to your employer. They will certainly understand that you just can’t work full time when you have to look after small children at the same time. Stay up to date on any regulations from the government and authorities. The situation is changing every day.
7. Maintain contact with colleagues and supervisors
While working from home, you’re not only missing out on coffee breaks and lunch with colleagues but also on conversations with people with whom you can discuss ideas and problems. Now, in particular, is when you probably want to keep up to date with how your colleagues are doing. It’s also difficult for supervisors and even customers to get an overview of your work progress. So set up scheduled appointments to maintain contact with your customers and supervisors. With your colleagues, on the other hand, it’s best to set up a group in an instant messaging app. So you can also exchange information during your coffee break at home.
8. Avoid distractions
You should remove anything that might distract you from your work during working hours. When working from home, there are two main factors that can lead to procrastination: household chores and computer apps that you also use for your private life. To maintain your concentration, it’s worth setting fixed times for your household chores and keeping two separate user accounts on your PC – one for work and one for home.
It should also be emphasized here that it’s essential to make arrangements with your cohabitants – children, partners, or flatmates – so they don’t constantly interrupt you. If everyone respects your working hours, if you don’t wander off into the vast world of the Internet, and if you keep your household under control, you’ll be in great shape.
9. Set goals and create a daily to-do list
Having a clear plan for the day can help you stay focused and avoid the temptation to procrastinate. Before you start working each day, write down a list of tasks you need to accomplish, prioritizing them by importance or deadline. This will not only help you keep track of your progress, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick off each item on your list. Make sure to include both short-term and long-term goals in your planning.
10. Establish a healthy work-life balance
One of the challenges of working from home is finding the right balance between your professional and personal life. It’s essential to set boundaries and know when to switch off from work to avoid burnout. Allocate specific times for work, breaks, and personal time, and stick to them as much as possible. Remember to communicate your work schedule to your family or housemates to ensure they respect your boundaries.
Additionally, try to engage in relaxing activities during your personal time, such as exercising, reading, or spending time with your loved ones. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will help you stay focused and productive while working from home.
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