Working from home during a global pandemic is not the same as working from home by choice in a "normal" world—and we shouldn't treat it as such.
Before, remote work was done by self-driven entrepreneurs and employees who needed an occasional break from the distractions of an office. It meant peace and quiet at home, a nice change of pace. Now, most of us have more distractions than ever at home, and workers who thrive in an office environment are forced to adapt for the safety of themselves and others.
When you're working from home every single day—surrounded by kids, pets and endless entertainment options—you need to find a space that works for you. If you have more than $100,000 to spare, you could simply build a whole new home office in the backyard! But if you're like most of us, you'll have to get a little more creative.
Here are our tips for how to create the home office you deserve.
Choose Your Space
You may have been working from home for months already, but it's not too late to reassess your workspace. Think about what kind of environment typically suits your workstyle. Are you motivated by hustle and bustle, or by focused solitude? If the latter, maybe that spot in the corner of the living room isn't the best place for your desk. See if you have space in the basement, a guest room, or even your own bedroom. Maybe you rarely use the dining room anymore, making it the perfect space for a makeshift office—that's what I did!
Wherever your home office is, the top tip is to make that your workspace and nothing else. Our brains associate certain places and routines with certain activities, so if you try to frequently work from bed, for instance, you may find yourself thinking of work while trying to fall asleep, and vice versa.
When I broke my ankle and was forced to work from home for months, I established the desk in my bedroom as "the office." Even though I was sitting five feet away from my bed, my brain was able to delineate between the two spaces. Eventually, I even stopped feeling the urge to crawl into bed for a nap every afternoon, which proves anything is possible.
Room With a View
Humans need stimulation to stay motivated and creative. If you can, set up your workspace somewhere with natural light and an outside view. Studies have shown that nature inspires us, even if subconsciously. That said, if your window looks out over a busy intersection or somewhere else with lots of distractions, it may be best to not directly face the window. As always, find the balance that works for you.
Find Your Flair
Everyone is inspired by different things. Personally, I've surrounded my workspace with a small forest of houseplants. Others might thrive with special framed photos, colorful wallpaper, or a beautiful art print. Don't be afraid to shift your home décor around to make your office a special place! You're likely spending half of your waking hours at your "office," so don't hold back when it comes to livening things up.
Local shops have plenty of unique and inspiring flair. You could also stop by your actual office to pick up the knick-knacks from your desk. If you got used to fidgeting with that Rubik's Cube while brainstorming, bring it home! When it comes to working, our brains love routine.
Not everyone should work in a robe by the fireplace every day—but if that's your jam, go for it! If dressing up gets you motivated, keep doing that. Adjust the thermostat. Invest in a great chair. Do whatever it takes to get comfortable at the start of the day, because every little thing you have to adjust throughout simply becomes another distraction.
Josh Veal is the managing editor of Revue and a former nonprofit reporter. He keeps in the know on local restaurants, breweries and venues through ample firsthand experience. Josh enjoys cocktails on the porch, graphic novels, social justice and biking through nature.
This article originally appeared in the Feb/Mar 2021 issue of West Michigan Woman.