Suddenly, the world is working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If it’s not something you do regularly, then you may not have a dedicated work area, let alone a separate home office. Now is the time to think about how to adapt your home for working from home. It’s time to get work-from-home ready.
Almost every list of ‘top tips for working from home‘ will tell you to have a “dedicated workspace”. That’s fine if you have spare rooms and homes with offices, not so great if you live in a one-bedroom flat with no room to swing a cat.
It’s a time to think creatively about what space you can optimise, explore what you might have thought impossible and consider what space you need throughout the day.
Consider how you use your space
Who needs to work? Who else is using the home at the same time? Do you need spaces free for children to play or another person to work from home?
Look at how you use your home and then think about how different rooms could be adapted. We recently moved our daughter into her brother’s room and converted her room into an office.
With two parents both needing to work remotely, the office became more of a priority. We didn’t want to use living room space as the children will also be at home and need their own space to play and we want to be able to switch off and relax in the evening.
Zoning a room with the use of certain furniture, dividers, rugs and book cases can also help create a sense of separation from the rest of the home.
Also, look at what spaces are going to be most conducive to working. You will want good lighting, good ventilation, and somewhere that’s either out of the way or from where it’s easy to supervise the children.
Creating a work area in a small space
There are ingenious ways you can adapt small spaces to become dedicated work zones. Read our feature in issue 2 on how to make use of different areas in your home.
Think about spaces under the stairs, walk-in wardrobes or large hallways where you could place a desk.
If you don’t have room for a large desk, a console table or side table can be adapted to make a work area. There’s space for a laptop and notebooks. It gives you space, albeit small, where you can keep work-related items without them overflowing to other areas.
When adapting your home for working from home, you have to make do with the space you have. If that’s just the kitchen table, that’s fine but try to keep work to one end. Limit the number of notebooks or the paperwork you have with you. Only bring to the table what you need for that task so there’s less clutter to sweep away when it comes to eating.
If you need to adapt your home for working from home, you’ll soon realise the importance of an ergonomic chair. Read our Flex issue of The Homeworker magazine where we look at some of the best ergonomic chairs for your home office.
It’s not just chairs, if your role is sedentary and you’re on the computer a lot, a standing desk is well worth the investment. We have a fantastic offer with ergonomic specialists, Posturite for a versatile sit-stand desk.
A separate work desk is ideal. If you don’t have space or aren’t able to get one, look at how to use what you have: console tables, dressing tables, hardly-used dining tables. Even kitchen islands and breakfast bars are often good for standing height (or there’s the new hack of using the ironing board!)
Think about storage and where you’ll put files and paperwork. A basic in-tray might suffice but having a clear system to organise paper clutter is best practice. Our issue 2 feature on how to clear paper clutter is well worth a read.
If you work from home with other people at home, noise-cancelling headphones are a wise purchase. Even if you’re alone, they can help cut out any other distractions (think noisy washing machines or the neighbour’s TV on full volume).
Depending on the nature of your work, a microphone or headset is a good idea if doing lots of video or conference calls, webinars or virtual meetings.
Create a space you love
Once the desk and furniture are organised, you can add elements that bring you pleasure and help inspire you while you work. Read our feature on using art in your workspace in issue 3 of The Homeworker. You can also add candles for fragrance or cosiness, pictures and photographs and rugs or throws to make it feel a little more homely.
Alternatively, if you struggle to get into ‘work mode’, making the space as professional as possible is useful. Put your work textbooks in view and remove any general household clutter that might distract you.
Subscribe to The Homeworker magazine for regular, more in-depth features on how to work from home successfully. Each issue includes ideas for your home office from the psychology, to the safety, from interior design to some of the best furniture.