2020 has served us plenty of curveballs, and one of them has been the shift for many of us to work from home for the first time. Now that working from home is the norm for the foreseeable future, many of us have to get creative in order to create productive work spaces at home even when such a space wasn’t available. While many of us don’t have the space for a designated home office, there are ways to work from home under these restrictions. Here are some strategies to help improve working from home when you don’t have a home office.
Create a Designated Work Space
One of the greatest challenges when we don’t have a home office is finding a space to work. Working from home in common shared spaces like a kitchen or dining room can be distracting, so reconsider every nook and cranny in your home when deciding where to designate your work space. There are many spaces that can be repurposed such as closet space, a nook under the stairs, attics, basements, and more. When we don’t have a home office, we have to accept that our work spaces will be doing double duty. Once you’ve chosen your workspace, it’s just as important to mentally accept that you can only do work there to craft a productive work space that is solely for work.
Establish a Routine
Another challenge when working from home is creating a routine and sticking with it. Without our commutes to and from the workplace, it can be difficult to establish a work day routine. Try to start work around the same time everyday if you can and schedule your lunch break around the same time if possible. It may also be helpful to not eat in your work area during your lunch break. Establishing a daily routine is important to create boundaries between your work life and home life, so don’t forget to follow these boundaries after your work hours as well. Most emails can wait until first thing the next morning.
Working remotely can feel isolating and online video chatting and slack channels can only do so much. Scheduling breaks can not only help get your body moving during your work day, but also help cope with the isolation. You can use this time to walk your dog, pick up a coffee, or water your plants to not only get your body moving, but to possibly surround yourself with people at a safe distance. Breaks are necessary to improve our productivity and our wellbeing.
Listen to Your Body
When we don’t have a home office, many of us don’t prioritize proper ergonomic habits to support and protect our bodies. Even if you don’t have a home office, you can still outfit your work space with ergonomically friendly resources and habits to prevent discomfort and body pain. Consider investing in an ergonomically friendly chair, medicine ball, or whatever it is that your body needs to be comfortable and supported. Working from the couch is not a healthy habit to keep long term, and we can only work as well as our bodies will allow.
Dress the Part
One of the greatest benefits many people enjoy when working from home is getting to wear whatever you want when you want. However, to keep a sense of routine, it’s helpful to get dressed around the same time everyday. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to dress in a full business suit or pencil skirt. Changing into a comfortable sweater and pair of jeans instead of wearing sweatpants is enough to help put us in a work mindset.
Set Boundaries With Your Loved Ones
Distractions and interruptions are another difficulty when working from home without a home office. Roommates may walk in at any time ready to engage in idle chit chat, or loved ones may walk by with ‘a quick question’. Establishing boundaries with your loved ones is critical in these instances. Everyone in your shared spaces needs to work together to make that space work for everyone. Setting boundaries will help identify what each person needs to make working from home in smaller spaces more effective for everyone involved.
Finding the Right Balance
Working from home has its advantages and challenges. Not only does it change our work habits, but it renegotiates our lifestyle habits too. Finding the right balance when working from home will take time, but you can do it. We’ll get through this extraordinary time together.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
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