The current pandemic means there are many things in life that are entirely beyond our control. Our schedules and priorities have changed as a direct response to a changing world. And as more and more workers are being asked to perform the same in-office duties from their own homes, the world is also embracing a gradual shift toward a work-from-home model.
The transition hasn’t been without its challenges; just ask anyone with a young child or a pet who has gracefully interrupted a video conference. Here’s one thing we’ve learned during the current work-from-home climate: even if we can’t love the situation, we can learn to love a home office.
We know that home offices can be an acquired taste, especially when you’re accustomed to a corporate office. When the restroom is just down the hall, and you can visit coworkers and refill water bottles at the same time, it’s difficult to get used to anything else. However, one great benefit to the current work-from-home mandates is the fact that you can make your at-home office environment entirely your own. From your desk to your drawers to the art you hang on the walls, you can craft a workspace that speaks to your current tastes.
Easy ways to transform your workspace
Don’t sell yourself short when it comes to creating a beautiful in-home office; let your imagination fill the space for you. Creating a dynamic home office is more than just filling your home office with new furniture; you’re looking to create a workspace where you actually want to spend time. We’ve outlined easy ways to do that – to transform your workspace into a place you actually want to be – and you’re going to want to see what we’ve found.
1. Showcase your identity.
Despite all of the benefits that working in a corporate office brings, your desk is typically already at work when you arrive on your first day. You have a limited say as to where you sit, what your desk looks like, and where you can file important documents or folders. All of those rules are now subject to change, because you’re the one drawing the lines. For that reason, make sure that each element in your at-home workspace helps showcase your identity. If you want an orange desk, buy one. If you think an overhead lamp will increase your productivity, make it happen. The faster you can create a space covered in your personality, the faster you’ll begin to see it as your own.
2. Include at least one item in your office that doesn’t need to be there.
Maybe it’s a bobblehead of your favorite television show character or athlete. Maybe it’s a dynamic wall decal, ornament or piece of art. Maybe it’s an extra chair or a bookshelf full of pleasure reading. No matter what it is, make sure that your office includes at least one tribute to who you are, and not just what you do. Just like your regular office at work likely contains photo frames or some indication of your personality, your at-home office needs the same flair that makes work enjoyable (or at least tolerable) in the first place.
3. Fall in love with your desk chair.
Trust us when we say that expensive desk chairs are usually worth the money. You’ll thank us after spending inordinate amounts of time in your desk chair. Especially since there’s likely no watercooler to visit or coworkers to converse with, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in your desk chair. Make sure that it’s a chair you can fall in love with, not just tolerate. If it swivels, perfect. If you can sink into it, even better. No matter what it looks like or feels like, your desk chair defines the office space and makes for productive work sessions, or otherwise long hours.
4. Make your office a (temporary) hangout spot.
There’s always a danger that a child or pet will walk in on a conference call. We’ve likely all been on conference calls, or sat through virtual meetings, with all sorts of home-based noise in the background – pans banging, dogs barking, children crying or laughing or running. However, your family is also what keeps you going during the day.
And technically, anyone at home during the day is now one of your coworkers! Whenever you’re not on a conference call, especially during a break or during lunch, feel free to invite your “coworkers” to share lunch with you at your desk. A shared meal, or any non-work activity in or near your office, will go a long way toward humanizing the space.
5. Install speakers.
This step is a simple one, but it can mean huge changes for morale, for your work ethic, and for the entire at-home work environment. Whether you install a compact smart speaker, a traditional plug-in or bluetooth speaker, or even a soundbar or high-end stereo system, make sure that you can listen to music, to podcasts, to audiobooks, to talk shows, or to whatever audio you prefer as you work. Not only does audio serve as sufficient white noise that can assist in concentration; music especially can also serve to drastically improve your mood, making it easier to concentrate and complete the full workday.
Learn to fall in love with your home office
Transforming any home space into a workplace means more than sliding furniture into place and plugging in the necessary computer and monitor elements. It means entirely shifting your focus with regard to one room or area of the house. When you enter that room or that space during normal work hours, your brain needs to understand that you are now “at work.” And that transition takes time to fully resonate. Thankfully, each of the above 5 suggestions goes a long way toward expediting that work-from-home mentality, whether you’re jamming to music, sharing a group lunch or spinning in your new favorite office chair.
The end goal is simply to create and maintain a workplace where you actually want to spend time. That’s not something you can create overnight. But slowly, you’ll begin to mentally register your home workspace as a place of business; before long, it becomes second nature to switch into “work mode” whenever you enter your home office. Take the time to personalize your office like we suggest above, and you’ll find yourself well on your way toward crafting a workspace you can actually tolerate – and even enjoy.