Remote Working – Creating the Ultimate Home Office Environment
When COVID-19 first started to rage throughout the country, home working felt like something of a novelty. Now, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that this is not a fad. It’s potentially a new way of doing business, at least for the foreseeable future.
This means that you’ll need to ensure your home is appropriately set up to accommodate your working day. The requirements of a home office differ from those of a business premises. We’ll offer some guidance as to how you can create the ideal home office – but keep an open mind. If you’re concerned that home working simply isn’t an option where you are, you may need to consider moving.
Pick Your Spot
Your first challenge will be picking the best possible room to base yourself in. There are a number of factors to consider here. Key considerations are:
- Space. You’ll need enough room to install a desk, or to make use of an existing surface like a kitchen table. If you also need a screen, keyboard and mouse, that’s a bigger surface area required.
- Light. Try to work in a location with at least some natural light. The human body is not conditioned to spend prolonged periods of time in gloomy conditions or toiling under artificial light.
- Connectivity. You’ll obviously need a location with a string Wi-Fi and phone signal. Few things are more frustrating that video or audio calls constantly dropping because you are in a black-spot.
Eventually, you have surprised yourself at how much you miss the hustle and bustle of the office. Working from home can get pretty lonely if you’re used to being surrounded by people. You may have a question of your own about your work, get an email that annoys you and leaves you wanting to vent, or simply think of something amusing that you’d like to share.
Don’t let yourself feel cast adrift at this time. Stay in regular contact with your colleagues – you all need to lean on each other. Emails will likely fly and you’ll have no shortage of team meetings on Zoom, but maintain the opportunity for ‘real time’ conversation too. Use tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams and Slack to keep in contact. It will aid you in fostering a team spirit.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is keeping your head in the game for prolonged periods of time. In the office, this is comparatively simple. You’re there to do your job. Anything else is somebody else’s problem.
In your own home, it’s a different story. You won’t be able to avoid noticing that the floor needs to be vacuumed, that a radiator needs to be bled, that the laundry hamper is getting full … hey, while you’re at it, maybe you should finally get around to cleaning out the garage. Work is pretty quiet and you’ve been meaning to do that for months.
- Quiet. You’re going to need to able to concentrate. Locate yourself somewhere you will not be disturbed by the kids or your pets. If you are likely to discuss sensitive matters over the phone or on video calls, consider confidentiality too.
Another pivotal concern is ensuring that you have sufficient separation in your personal and professional lives. Try to avoid working in the living room or bedroom. These are the places that you relax. If you start to associate them with work, considering them your office, you may struggle to unwind at the end of a working day.
Get Set Up
The first thing you’ll need is an appropriate desk. Make sure you have enough space for everything you need. A computer is likely to be a must, but you may also want additional peripherals. You’ll need to able to move around your desk without knocking things over constantly. You should be able to pick up an easily-assembled flat pack desk.
Take a trip to a furniture shop and grab a suitable chair, too. Don’t just drag a hardwood chair from the kitchen table. This will play havoc with your back before long. You must have a seat that provides the appropriate height and support.
Once you have set up your desk, including your chair, ask somebody you live with to undertake a DSE workstation assessment for you. This will ensure that everything is positioned appropriately. You may feel a little silly in the short term, but you’ll feel much better for it when you don’t develop RSI or a crick in your neck.
You likely found that your productivity shot through the roof when you first started working from home. You didn’t miss the the desk phone that rang off the hook, colleagues stopping by your desk and asking you questions, your boss calling your name and asking for, “a quick word” or the constant parade of meetings.
This is a slippery slope. Once you start procrastinating, it can be difficult to stop. Concentration is the hardest thing in the world to gain and the easiest thing to lose when working from home. Close your home office door and forget everything that is going on around you until the working day is done. None of these tasks are going anywhere. You can perform them in the time that you would ordinarily have spent commuting.
If you’re struggling to make the best of this trying situation, a change of scene could be just what you need. Moving to a new property – whether it’s one with spare rooms that double as an office, better connectivity or just a quieter street – may improve your working life.
You’re also no longer location-bound by proximity to work. Bear that in mind when choosing whether to stay put or move on. Even if you do eventually return to an office, you are increasingly likely to find work in Yorkshire.