When the pandemic abruptly forced office closings in 2020, people hastily set up makeshift home offices. Videoconferencing at the kitchen table was acceptable. Sitting at the dining room table all day was fine. A year later, working remotely is still the way of life, and a more permanent setup is in order. Employers are recognizing the savings of permanently giving up their large office spaces and employees are loving the lack of long commutes. Here are some things to consider when organizing workstations at home:
A long-term home office should ideally be a separate space that is properly outfitted for work. If you lack rooms for all of your household’s remote workers, think creatively. Use the guest room as an office most of the time and a guest room just when people visit (a Murphy bed is a great option if space and budget are limited). Alternatively, the rec room may be an option if it’s rarely used during the day. A workspace doesn’t even have to be its own room. It can be a corner, or even a large closet, as long as it feels separate from the rest of your home.
Before buying anything for your home office, first, get rid of anything you no longer need. By trashing and shredding old files, and by giving away any books or other items you no longer need, you won’t buy more storage than you need.
Ergonomically designed workstations can avoid sore necks and backs. Dining chairs and deck chairs rarely are at the right height, and they don’t always encourage the needed upright posture. A desk needs to be the right height for you, and your chair should be something you can sit in comfortably for 8 hours a day.
Review your scanning and copying needs: Should you buy a new printer? Is a laptop sufficient or would a desktop computer be preferable? What about internet speed? The more people using the internet at the same time, the more you need a higher-speed service.
Ideally, you should have sufficient indirect light to illuminate your workspace. The last thing you want is eye strain. Overhead lighting works well, such as from a ceiling lamp.
Being surrounded by mess is distracting and can cause anxiety. If you don’t have space for a bookcase, what about something on wheels like a bar cart? Are your file drawers overflowing? Consider digital storage.
Small containers are great for storing pens, staplers, post-it notes, and other frequently used supplies.
You may need a charging station, outlets for equipment, and a place to plug in a lamp or two. A handyman or electrician may be in order.
Assess your office space for how others will see you in a Zoom call. Clutter in the background, certain lighting types/angles, and too-long or too-short distances between you and the computer will make you look unprofessional. For more detailed tips on videoconferencing, check out our blog post on videoconferencing tips to help you look and sound your best.
While this has less to do with furniture layout and more with family communication and self-control, it’s worth mentioning. If you have a busy household, establish boundaries to cut down on distractions during the workday. Make rules for yourself, too. It’s fine to take a few minutes to load the washing machine, but don’t start re-organizing the garage in the middle of the day. Watch your social media time and breaking news check-ins. An hour can blow by before you know it.
Setting up a workstation that works properly for you is a big job. Planning the office location and layout, making purchases, scheduling a handyman, decluttering, and upgrading internet service all take time. Consider delegating the job to a professional with experience in home office organization.
If you’re in need of a more permanent home office set up, contact Potomac Concierge for help. Our Personal Assistants and Professional Organizers will ensure you end up with an efficient workspace you love.