Working 9 to 5 — at home
By Chelle Cordero
Years before the pandemic forced most offices to go remote, over 3% of the American workforce was working from home, according to Global Workplace Analytics in 2018. Even as things “open up” again, many businesses are keeping more workers at home and eliminating the need for excess office space and long commutes. Many more workers have decided to go out on their own with their enterprises set up right in their homes.
Creating a good workspace is often worth the investment. Designating a workspace that is efficient and separate from the rest of your home — allowing you to “leave the office” at the end of the workday — may seem complicated. The one place you should never turn into your home office is your bedroom. Instead, use a den, guest room, garage or a small empty nook fitted with a desk. At the end of your workday, you will want some form of separation between work and home so that you can unwind from the stress of work.
Place your desk in a separate room, even if it is a multipurpose room such as a den, home library or guest room. Be sure to keep time-wasting temptations away, such as TVs, a busy kitchen and anywhere that has heavy family traffic. Preferably, your desk will get a lot of natural light, and your room will be decorated with vibrant colors. And if a separate room isn’t available, choose a nook that meets as many of those parameters as possible. If you incorporate the Chinese energy-reviving philosophy of feng shui, you will want the entrance to the room/office to be visible from your seated position, and bright overhead light or a window should light up your desktop space.
Interior designer Chris Bletzer says: “I think it’s super-important not to forget the home part of a home office. You’re likely to spend eight-plus hours a day in that space, so you deserve to be in a beautiful setting.” Bletzer and his partner recently combined their guest bedroom with a home office and part-time den during the pandemic. They put in a functional desk with a computer and recording equipment for Chris to do his work, a plush chair and a low bookcase by the window to relax in while reading and a convertible couch/guest bed to use for company. He hung vision boards on one wall for inspiration and used a colorful rug that tied the room together.
If your house or apartment does not have a separate room to use as an office, try using a recessed nook in a hallway, a large closet, an empty living room corner or even a countertop desk in a kitchen. According to feng shui, which promotes positive energy, wherever you choose an at-home workspace should give the feeling of separation from everyday life; it should be well-lit and possibly hidden when you are not at work by using folding screens, a closet door or a bookcase to separate the room. Practicality also dictates you will need electrical power, a phone line and internet access. You can also convert a garage area into an office, den, library or guest room. Another option is using an outdoor shed as an office; however, this may necessitate walking through rain or snow to get to work or even just to use the bathroom.
Organization is important to successfully work at home. A file cabinet, modular desk drawers or desktop organizers can help you make the most of your space. Even if you are sharing space with a family den or guest room, make sure that you are as far away as possible from your everyday family traffic, the television and other disruptions. Use some form of a sound barrier if you are in the same room as family-doings (bookcases as room dividers create attractive sound buffers) in order to minimize your distractions and be able to comfortably handle business calls with employers or co-workers.
When your workday is over, remember to leave your office behind.
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