When COVID-19 started making headlines and employees were working from home, the idea was that this was all temporary. In a few weeks (or months), life would return to normal and we’d all be back in the workplace. That hasn’t exactly happened. In fact, many organizations are telling employees they can stay home for the rest of the summer, year, or forever.
If you’re in one of these situations where your working from home is being extended, it might be time to think about your office set-up. When we were talking about lasting a few weeks, we say to ourselves that we can make sacrifices. The longer this situation lasts, the more we need to consider a longer-term solution. Think of it as “Working from Home Version 2.0”.
I ran across an article in The Washington Post titled “As the pandemic continues, it might be time to upgrade that temporary home office setup”. While the article was a bit more form over function, it got me thinking. What are the handful of items in my home offices that I wouldn’t want to live without?
- A good chair! This is without a doubt number one on my list. Sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair is the worst and it doesn’t help you do your best work. I’m very fortunate. I have a Herman Miller chair that is beautiful and great for my posture. You don’t have to buy the most expensive chair on the market but do think about making your back and neck happy with a good chair.
- Computer monitors. Everyone’s taste in computer monitors is different. Some people want one big monitor. Others might like a couple of smaller ones. Personally, I have three and I love it. If you’re accustomed to working on a laptop, maybe it makes sense to have one monitor and use your laptop as a second one. Regardless, if you’re not traveling, then having a larger monitor is great for your eyes (and neck).
- Lighting. Speaking of our eyesight, it can be nice for our eyes and our mental health to have a workspace near natural lighting. My home office has a lovely view of our garage door – LOL! But at least, I can see outside and can enjoy the sunshine. If you’re not able to set up a workspace near a window, try to find some good lighting that will make reading easier.
- Storage. In the workplace, we have access to supply cabinets with all of the things we need like ink cartridges, pens, paper, staples, etc. Personally, I don’t go through a lot of office supplies, but I do like to have a few things around, so I don’t have to drop everything and run to a store if the printer runs out of ink or paper. But no one really wants that stuff sitting out in the open all the time. You’ll want to find someplace to store it, which might involve cleaning up a closet (or two).
- Ample desk space. I think this one is also very personal. And it could be driven by your monitor situation. If you have a huge monitor set up, you’ll probably need a larger desk space. If you have great storage and don’t need to have a lot of papers on your desk, a smaller one might do. But if you’re going to work from home on a regular basis, you probably want to find some place other than your kitchen or dining room table.
I understand that my situation is different. We chose our home knowing that we were going to work in it and that makes a HUGE difference. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to carve out some space for yourself to work. If you’re going to work from home, then enjoy it. Not only will you be happy with the situation, but you’ll be more productive and do your best work. It’s possible that your employer might be able to help you secure these items.
Oh, and P.S. One more thing you might want to try to include in your work from home setup: something fun. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive. Maybe it’s a trinket from your desk in the workplace. Or a memento from a family vacation. Or a picture. When you’re having a tough day, looking at that little something will make you smile. Trust me on this one.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring just off Duval Street in Key West, FL16