The idea of working from home appeals to many of us. Freedom, comfort, the lack of commuting – it all sounds ideal. But what do you have to do to make your home office a workable space?
There’s nothing like the feeling of working from a home office that you’ve carefully created. Feeling happy to be at work is a unique feeling not many of us have the luxury or pleasure to experience.
Mind you, just because you can roll out of bed and straight into the office doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically – or permanently – feel happy about it.
We’ve been working from a home office since 2009 and thought sharing some of our wisdom from experience with you would help.
Where you work makes all the difference
Probably the most important element to working from a home office is how you set up the place you’ll be spending the most of your time.
Having a number of different places you can work is a good idea so that you don’t get bored of your work environment. And yes, working from the sofa and from bed still counts – just not all the time!
To sit or not to sit, that is the question
Standing desks have become really popular in recent years and studies show the benefits of standing rather than sitting at your desk.
Burning more calories (around 50p/h), improving posture, reducing back pain and – according to a 2016 study – even helping with productivity, fitting a standing desk into your home office is a must.
Our Varidesk Pro Plus 36 is ideal for a home office. It just sits on your desk or table and turns it into a professional work space.
This desk’s tiered design makes it comfortable to sit at, but the spring-assisted system makes it fast and easy to lift into a standing desk position. And it has multiple height options too, so you can adapt it for your own ergonomics.
Having plenty of natural light and trying to limit the amount of clutter around your desk is important too. You’ve chosen to work from home, so you might as well make your office the best spot in the house.
Time flies when you have none
Probably the biggest obstacle working from home is the millions of distractions close at hand.
It’s so tempting to run the odd non-work-related errand or do the laundry… or sit and watch TV for a few hours when you should be knuckling down. The busier you are and the tighter your timeline, the more you’ll be tempted to bunk off.
You’ll also find some people don’t think you’re really working at all and presume they can just pop round or expect you to be able to come and meet them.
Be strong. It’s ok to say no.
I know the idea of working from home is to be able to have flexibility. But it’s also important for you and everyone around you that it’s clear when you’re working and when you’re not.
You’ll also find that you’re more productive at certain times of the day. Find your sweet spot and make sure you’re working then. That’s when the flexibility of your working hours goes in your favour.
Is there a company uniform?
Working from home means there’s no one around to judge you on your sartorial choices. It’s very tempting to work in your PJs from one day to the next. The problem with that is when you need to go outside the house, human clothes can feel really weird.
Apart from that, I certainly feel more ‘professional’ if I’ve at least donned clothes I’d be happy wearing in the front garden. I don’t mean you need to wear a full suit every day, but getting dressed does put you in more of a work mindset.
All work and no play…
Another very real problem with working from home is the isolation. There’s nothing really stopping you from staying in and not seeing anyone for days on end. This isn’t healthy. Plus, if you’re working for yourself, you find the job taking over more and more of your life.
It’s so important to make sure you get out and enjoy social life.
Even if you’re taking your laptop to a local café for a few hours, getting out and interacting with people is essential to stop you losing your grip on reality.
Time flexibility… but within reason
The word ‘routine’ is one of the reasons people want to work from home. The idea of getting out of the rat race and marching to the squeak of your own wheel is very enticing.
The funny thing is even when you’re working from your home office and are completely independent, having a routine really helps.
I don’t want to venture too far into productivity (you should check out Smaggle.com for that), but having a timetable to stick to or at least knowing what jobs you need to do each day makes life easier. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting time working out what to do next all the time.
Bounce those ideas off something
One of the things I miss from office life – apart from the stationery cupboard – is the camaraderie and being able to sound out ideas with your peers. Working from home and working for yourself, every idea you have and every task in front of you is yours alone.
Find like-minded people – and there will be some there – to take to or even email occasionally makes working remotely so much more pleasant.
Peer mentorship – call it what you want – is a way of both you and the other person helping each other along in what many people don’t realise is a challenging working environment.
I’m lucky to be working with my wife Christina (yes, a challenge for both of us in a different way), but it means we’re able to support each other through decisions.
We hope these tips for starting your home office are helpful. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.