As the pandemic continues, a lot of people who would normally have been working in a bustling office are now working from home. Is this you? The last few months have meant thousands of people who were used to commuting to work, doing their job, then returning home are now doing their job at home. How is that working out for people and more importantly can they learn how to work from home on the computer?
Jobs working from home?
Whether people like it or not home working is here to stay. Current estimates by industry experts are saying that between 25-30% of people will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
What this goes to show is that working from home appears to be here to stay. Previously enjoyed by a select few, it’s taken a worldwide pandemic to prove that people can actually work from home. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle and there doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm for it to return to the way it was.
Getting Set Up for Success
So the main recommendation is firstly to take your time setting up your home office. Making do by opening your laptop on the kitchen table is not going to work for the long term so you need to plan. Questions to ask yourself are:
Where in the house is it going to be?
Do you have a spare room you can use?
Do I have a budget for furnishings and equipment?
How much will I be using it?
What is the natural light sources where it will be?
What will I be doing there?
All these questions will determine how your set-up is going to look, and how you will interact with the space. How much space you have will obviously have an immediate impact on the type of desk and chair you will require. I wrote an article on different types which you may find useful. Desks are desks at the end of the day, a flat surface to work on, however your choice will be greatly influenced by the space you have available, your needs for storage, and your taste. My article on choosing a desk with some good quality options is here.
The MOST important choice is really the chair, you are going to be spending a lot of time sitting here so you had better make sure you are comfortable. If I had to make a recommendation it would be to spend as much money on the chair as you can afford, as buying cheap now will cost you dear in the future.
I wrote another article on choosing an office chair along with some recommendations which is here, but as I say, try to invest in something that will be comfortable, not one that looks comfortable. Check out on-line reviews by verified buyers to get a better idea of what they are like to use if you cannot try them out yourself.
Getting Set Up
So, once you have your desk and chair sorted you will be in business. Next thing is placement, where will you put your desk and chair? Perhaps you will have options but most of the time space will dictate where everything will fit.
The most important thing is light. If at all possible try to get as much natural light as possible but not too much and not behind you or it will create glare off your computer screen. If possible set your desk at 90 degrees to your natural light source (window!). A corner desk is a good option as it takes up less floor space. Again I wrote an article about corner desks, which you can find here.
If you have a laptop, perhaps you will need an additional monitor, as some work is a lot easier with two screens. I have got used to using the laptop screen for emails and a monitor screen as my main working screen. It is helped if you have a docking station which your laptop fits into, normally this can allow you to use two monitors which is even better. I will look at monitors in a different article (pun intended).
Other things you may want to consider if you are using a bedroom is a chair carpet mat. It’s a useful addition, makes it easier to move your chair about and save any long term marks.
An office printer is a handy addition (article here) as is a document shredder. If you are using a spare box room to set up in, you may find you’ll need a fan to keep cool as the computer will soon heat up a small room.
If you’re using a laptop, one thing you will definitely need is a full size keyboard and mouse. Try to ensure you get the full size and not a travel one or one of those roll up keyboards. They might be flashy and for five minutes it might be fun but after a long week typing you’ll regret not getting the more practical option.
Right, once you’ve got set up, what next?
Actual Working From Home
One of the greatest assets of working from home is that you’re at home. You don’t have that 45 minute commute, no having to wait for the bus in the rain, or having to run to get that tube. You just have to get up and walk into the office and switch the computer on.
On the other hand, one of the worst parts is that you’re working from home. There are so many distractions, there’s the washing you could put on, that drawer that’s Required sorted for ages or that game you just bought for the X-Box.
Yes, one thing you need for working from home is discipline but it’s a two-way street. Yes, you can’t allow yourself to be distracted too much but be sure to take breaks otherwise you’ll be less effective. It’s easy to lose track, skip lunch, where if you’d been in the office you would have nipped to the gym.
Also try to be strict as possible when it comes to working hours. Don’t let the boss eat into your evening. Once in a while is acceptable but once it becomes a habit it’s difficult to break out of and you’ll end up losing out on your own time.
Be careful not to get too stressed out as well. Working from home, it’s difficult to switch off from work, especially if it’s in the same room. Having people who you can chat with is also a good idea.
Routine is the best way forward, both for work and for your own mental health. I have another article here relating to motivation and safeguarding your well being.
Working from home sure can be the best way forward, you gain so much time not traveling to and from the office but you do lose out on some social interaction. It comes down to your own personal preferences and circumstances. It does make a difference if you have an option whether to work from home or go in to the office.
Recent lock downs due to the pandemic have shown that more and more people are keen to work from home now that they have been given a taste of it. It will be very interesting to see however, once this whole situation has died down if people will remain in love with working from home or if the lack of social interaction will drive them back to the traditional 9 to 5 at the office. Time will tell.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments please let me know in the box below and i’ll get back to you. What do you think, are you currently working from home? Have you enjoyed it or do you prefer going to the office. I look forward to hearing from you.