If you’re starting a freelance career or need to be able to work from home due to COVID-19 constraints, you’ll want a space that helps you focus. You’ll also need features that help you feel professional. Finally, you’ll want an office that still works with the rest of your home.
Desk and Chair
Set up a desk with some storage and plenty of flat real estate for computer, notebook, and writing utensils. If you’re moving from an office or cubicle at work to your house, consider what you have on your desktop at work and try to recreate it at home.
Get a good chair. Make sure it’s the right height for your desk and that you can work without putting too much stress on your hands and wrists. If you can’t maintain good posture in your chair, consider replacing it.
Prep Your Home
Make sure that your workspace has a blank wall behind you or at least something that looks interesting, rather than cluttered. If you’re on a Zoom meeting, you don’t need your co-workers or clients seeing personal posters, a cluttered bulletin board, or a messy bookcase behind you.
Make sure that your office is temperate. If you need to wear a jacket to work, wear a jacket for client meetings.
Make sure your A/C unit is working properly so you can keep your home at a comfortable temperature so you can easily work throughout the day. Schedule an appointment for a service call or new A/C installation Utah county (or whatever area you live in) so you can stay cool, calm, and collected while connecting with your clients.
Working from home means working, not being available for other things. While it is nice to be able to make your grocery list during your lunch break or do a little laundry when you get a cup of coffee, make sure that your office is set up to avoid distractions.
Use a room with a door, or set up screens behind you so you can have privacy. Use a timer when you are working so you can avoid distractions that you create. Your smartphone likely has a timer feature. Set the timer for 2 hours and turn the phone facedown to reduce the risk you’ll pick it up and check feeds, texts, or social media. Have your work email open on the computer, but shut down personal data streams.
If you must function within hearing of television, work with your family to set non-television hours, or invest in noise-canceling headphones. Getting into another data stream, such as television audio, will take your focus from where it needs to be. If the rest of your family is hanging out watching a movie, you’ll want to join them.
Create Task Lighting
If you’re working in a small space within a larger space, such as in the corner of your living room behind a set of screens, make sure that you have lighting just for you. Test this lighting during a Zoom meeting preview to make sure you’re not silhouetted, only lit from one side, or otherwise poorly illuminated.
When you’re working in the space, the light is on. While your family can connect with you in the case of urgent need, this light can be a sign that you’re busy and should not be bothered. When you’re done working, turn off the light.
Lock Things Up
If you’re remoting into your job, make sure that you sign off, power down, or at least lock the computer every time you step away from your workspace. It’s easy to get distracted, and the last thing you need is to realize that your work computer has been open all day while the cable repair person or your spouse’s old friend from college has been in the house. In nearly every case, the data should be secure, but if you get in the habit of locking things down, you know it is.
To that end, make sure that nobody, including you, has food or drink near your work computer. It’s too easy to spill on a keyboard, and while this can be an embarrassing challenge in the office, at home it’s the difference between being connected and being isolated.
Your home office setup can be flexible as far as location and materials, but it needs to be well-defined. Don’t allow distractions to get in your way. Keep things organized and secure.