Remote Work: Keep it Fresh While Working From Home

By Kristen Harris

We see companies slowly bring people back to the office, and some employees working for essential businesses never left. However, many creatives are still working remotely and likely will be doing so for quite some time. Maybe forever, at least for a portion of the workweek.

Working from home has both upsides and downsides. 

On the upside: you can set a more flexible schedule (maybe); no commute saves time and money; eliminating work-related expenses like going out for lunch or a daily coffee shop run saves money; you get to spend more time with family. 

On the downside: interruptions and family demands can make it hard to keep a regular schedule; lack of computer peripherals and spotty wifi can make work less productive; miss the personal connections with coworkers.

Regardless, working from home is now a part of many people’s work lives, so how can we make it the best option possible?

  1. Create your ideal workspace. Identify and define where you will work in your home; claim it and set boundaries around this space. Whether it’s a desk, a room, or a corner cabinet, the area you select needs to be respected and treated as your workspace. That means nothing else happens there, at least during work hours. If you wouldn’t do it on your desk in the office, don’t do it on your workspace at home. And make it pleasant–add things that are inspiring or enjoyable to you; there’s no reason to look at dismal decor or bare white walls all day!

  2. Keep your work stuff in your workspace. By defining where you’ll work, now you have a place for your work stuff to live. Again, it doesn’t matter where the space is; just that it’s a dedicated place for you to work and keep your things. I was fortunate enough to commandeer an unused room in our basement to set up a home office. Not everyone has that option, so use what you’ve got. Working from a desk in your bedroom? Allocate a drawer or two to store all of your work items. If you’re working at the dining room table, get a big basket or wheeled cart to hold your work items so you can bring them out every morning and put them away at the end of each day. Do what works for you but give yourself a place for your things to live. 

  3. Leave your work stuff in your workspace. One of the biggest challenges people have with working from home is that there is no separation between work life and home life. By defining a space and providing a way to store your work items, you can close up, pack up, or walk away from work at the end of the day. You’re able to leave work in its dedicated space and go home…even if that’s just a 10-step commute. It’s essential to feel physical and mental separation; otherwise, both work and home are 24/7, continuously overlapping and interrupting each other.

  4. Set up the equipment you need. Make your workspace as efficient, comfortable, productive, and conducive to work as possible. Many people went from a fully equipped, ergonomically correct desk setup to hunching over a laptop while sitting on a wooden dining room chair. Think about the equipment you had in your office space and incorporate items that make a difference to the quality and comfort of your work. If you are working from home long-term or forever, ask your company if you can take equipment from your office setup to use in your home office. At a minimum, you need an adequate desktop/workspace and comfortable chair. Other items to consider are peripherals like a camera, microphone, headset, mouse, external monitor, or printer. Whether you use an external or laptop monitor, make sure it’s the proper size and eye level to reduce eye and neck strain. If you’re part-time in the office and part-time at home, try to replicate your office setup at home as much as possible. (I realize this might be on your dime, but it can really improve your comfort and productivity). 

  5. Change locations. Wait… didn’t I just tell you to dedicate and outfit an ideal space for work?! Yes, and once it’s the way you want it, you’ll likely do most of your work in that space. But, remember back when you went to the office? I’m sure you didn’t sit in one place, at your desk, all day long. You went to a meeting in the conference room, ate lunch out or in a break room, met someone for coffee down the street, or took a walk around the block in the afternoon. When you’re working from home, it’s good to get a change of scenery as well. After working from the same place every day, barely leaving my house for days on end, I started to feel very confined. Not the best scenario for thinking, creativity, or positive mental health! Now I mostly work in my dedicated space, but I also go upstairs, have lunch at the dining table, step outside for a quick break, and watch a webinar from another room every so often. Moving around a little can give you a literal and figurative new perspective!

One more thing–while prepping this, I asked our team for their best WFH tips. The same few items kept coming up:

Get into a routine and stick to it. “I didn’t have one at first, and it felt kind of unproductive until I could force myself into a routine…it was different from my usual of getting ready and driving to work.”

  1. Get into a routine and stick to it. “I didn’t have one at first, and it felt kind of unproductive until I could force myself into a routine…it was different from my usual of getting ready and driving to work.”

  2. Get ready for the day. “Fixing my hair, putting on real clothes that I would wear to the office…I feel like I’ve accomplished something before I sit down at my desk”.

  3. Pick out a good location with a nice background for your virtual meetings, especially interviews. “It could help you stand out from others and gives you a chance to show off your personality a little.”

  4. Make sure to take actual breaks and get outside for a bit if you can. “It’s very easy not to take as much time to recharge when you’re at home because it feels comfortable. Screen time burnout is a real thing!”

  5. Use your ‘commute’ time. “No drive time means a bit more time in the morning or evening to plan ‘me time’–be it reading, listening to podcasts, sending notecards to friends and family, or adding in an extra workout”.

Whether you’re working from home a little or a lot, with a few updates, you can make it much more comfortable and productive for you and anyone else you share space with. Looking for a new work situation? We’re here to help!