Being successful working from home can be a big challenge, whether it was a planned change, or as a result of your company’s response to COVID-19. And while we can’t claim to be experts, enPower was founded on the virtual office model. Our team has been working from our homes since our inception. Over the years, we’ve learned a few things that we want to share to help those who have suddenly found themselves working from home.
Previously, we talked about setting a schedule. Establishing your routine and letting others impacted by your new remote working situation is key to setting yourself up for success. Once you’ve got that set, it’s time to focus on your workspace.
Today Focus: Setting Up Your Home Office
If you’re lucky, you have had a spare room just waiting for you to come in and swap out the paisley bedspread for a sleek, new desk. But the reality today is that many of us are setting up home “offices” at the dining room table or in a corner of the living room using our toddler’s Little Tykes drawing bench. Whatever your situation, there are some key things to keep in mind when situating your workspace.
Clear the Clutter
Even if your desk is short and plastic, free it of items you would not normally have on your work desk. Remove stacks of mail, your grocery list and that one sock your kid keeps leaving around the house. The goal is to make your workspace, no matter where it is, professional and geared towards productivity.
But don’t just toss your laptop and cell phone on the table and consider it done. Before you plug in, plan:
- Will you have a desktop? A laptop?
- Will you have extra monitors? A docking station?
- How about a company phone? Your cell phone? A headset?
- Are you going to need a printer? Scanner?
- Will you have a webcam? Which direction should it face? What will be in view?
- What chargers do you need? What outlets are available?
Once you’ve thought through all the equipment, map it out on a piece of paper or use sticky notes to represent placement on the desk before actually moving in your devices. This will help you avoid having to move equipment around multiple times trying to work out the perfect setup.
Technology can be a big beast, and we will cover it more in our next post, but to start, make sure you have what you need where you need it. You might need to work with your company’s IT team to help get your setup complete.
Light it Up
Depending on where your new workspace is located, you might need to bring in an extra lamp or two. Eye strain is a definite reality when working remotely since you don’t walk away from your computer for meetings and such, so make sure you have enough light.
Keep the Essentials Close
While you don’t want clutter, you do need some things easily within reach. These will vary depending on your preferences and your work, but in general includes items such as pens, notebooks and sticky notes. And while you don’t want so many pen choices it takes you 15 minutes just to choose the right one, you will want backups. Fluffy isn’t going to go get you a pen if yours runs out of ink during an important phone conference.
Keep it safe.
Traditional offices take a lot of care to make sure workspaces are safe. Take the same care with your new digs. Invest in some cable management sleeves or even use bread ties to corral errant power cords. Use surge protectors and be cautious about overpowering outlets. Remove clutter from around your area so you don’t trip on your coffee breaks. And don’t forget the pets. Seriously. You don’t have to worry about tripping over the dog in a traditional office, but Bruno is going to curl up under your feet and he will trip you every chance he gets.
Make Your Space a Happy Place
When setting up your workspace, design it to be somewhere you want to be. Yes, make it professional, but also make it true to yourself. If you are a fidgeter, and your hands need to be active on phone calls to maintain focus, go ahead and put that mini Slinky next to the phone. If that picture of a Jeep Wrangler inspires you to keep working when your partner is upstairs watching reruns of Jeopardy, frame the girl and give her a place of honor on your desk.
Let’s Do It
So, go find your space and make it your own. Create a checklist of what you need in your workspace, map out how it’s going to be set up, and then create your own little work haven. Once it feels like your dedicated work area, the productivity can flow.