Working from home during lockdown? Make the most of your work space with these small changes
1. Claim your space
Make sure you have a dedicated place in your home where you can work with minimal disruptions. It’s important to create a boundary between your workspace, and the rest of the home. This is especially true if you are in lockdown with children who need to be supervised or homeschooled.
While the ideal would be to work in a spare room or study, it may be that you have to annex a space somewhere else in the house where you can work without being interrupted. This could be the dining room, kitchen or even in the garage. Just make sure you clearly indicate that it is place of work. Lay out your work stationery, notebook and other essentials. If possible, hang a curtain or move a bookcase across the room to create a physical boundary between your “office” and the rest of the house.
2. See the light
Nothing beats a room with a view, so if you feel inspired by looking at the garden, move your desk closer to the window. If the lighting is poor, use a desk lamp to illuminate your workspace. Check that the afternoon sun does not cast shadows across your laptop screen. You want to be as comfortable as possible throughout your working day.
3. Within reach
Make sure that everything you need to work is within reach. Constantly having to look for a pen, or notes, can hinder your productivity. Reliable internet connectivity is a must, as is easy access to all the files and programmes related to your work.
The ergonomics of your work space is also important. Check that your chair is comfortable, for example. Ensuring that everything is within reach applies to your interaction with your colleagues as well. Don’t lose touch with your team – schedule regular check-ins via one of the many virtual meeting platforms available.
4. Routine is key
An intrinsic part of creating a productive space in your home is to show up at your “place of work”, ready for the day. This means showering and dressing appropriately for the office, even if you are only moving from your bed to the dressing table where you’ve set up your laptop.
If you have online meetings during the day, make an effort to look professional (even if only from the waist up…). Don’t be that person in their PJs at Monday’s status meeting.
5. Find your balance
Set realistic working hours and be careful of job creep – when you start working longer hours than usual. Rather take advantage of the opportunity to work at a time that suits you. If you are more productive in the morning, before the children are awake, do the bulk of your work then. Or, if you prefer to burn the midnight oil, allocate your workload accordingly.
Balance your work expectations and your home life effectively by setting reasonable time limits, and sticking to them. Remember that you are entitled to breaks – for lunch and to exercise. The latter is even more important during lockdown, when cabin fever is prevalent.
When your work is done for the day, switch off your laptop, put down your pen and leave the “office”.