Since the advent of the pandemic, we are all spending a lot more time at home on average than we did in pre-COVID times. Even post-quarantine, where many of the businesses and entertainment centers we used to frequent have begun to reopen, the rapid spread of Omicron and other variants have forced many of us to leave home only for necessities.
For the foreseeable future, the home has by necessity adopted functions that were (in pre-pandemic times) available elsewhere: the home is now our go-to five-star eatery, our movie theater, and even our office.
Working From Home
The latter is especially worthy of taking note of, as though about 71% of American workers wound up working from home during the pandemic, very few of those workers had space in their homes set aside for their work. Nobody could have predicted the changes that the global pandemic would bring about in how we live our daily lives, or the pandemic itself: as a result, even those who had home offices didn’t spend much time in them on average, requiring them to make a massive adjustment as COVID spread.
Given that research shows that having separate spaces in your home for work and rest allows you to do both better, having an office environment optimized for remote work is of paramount importance for workers who aren’t planning on returning to offices anytime soon.
Before We Begin: Carving Out an Office
In order to properly optimize your home for a prolonged remote work environment, you must first have an area of your home sectioned off specifically for work. Consider areas in your home that integrate some or all of the below features:
- Lots of opportunities for natural light. You want the option to walk over and let sunlight in your office every now and then, as it can provide a much-needed, refreshing change of environment mid workday.
- Enough space to accommodate all the necessary fixtures, including your desk, file cabinets, and any other essential features.
- Ideally, you’ll want to give yourself some space to get up and walk around as well, as you won’t want to stay sedentary through the entire workday.
- Room for customization. Pick a space that has places where you can add additional, non-necessary fixtures, such as bookshelves, to make your office your own.
Once you have your space selected, you’ll want to incorporate both traditional office elements and ones specifically designed for remote work to modernize your office and prepare it for a remote work environment. Let’s talk about what you might want to add to your office space.
Get Yourself a Standing Desk
One of the few concerns that scientists have with prolonged remote work is the amount of time workers spend at their home offices being sedentary. Sitting at a desk for 8-plus hours, no matter whether you’re doing it in a traditional office space or a remote work environment has been shown to be detrimental to your physical health.
To offset the potential health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, you may want to invest in a standing desk. Standing desks come in all shapes and sizes and are essentially desks with motors in each leg. When the operator presses a button on a remote or interface integrated into the desk, the legs lift, allowing the operator to do their work while standing up.
Elements like file cabinets are still extremely useful in a work environment, helping you keep your office organized. As several studies have associated cluttered work environments with less effective work, choosing to invest in storage solutions for all of your documents and doohickeys might be the best way to keep your head screwed on straight as you work in your office long term.
As such, you’ll want to look for a filing cabinet that is the perfect intersection of storage space and bulk for your particular office space. Fortunately, there are options on the market for every office layout: with a little light browsing, it shouldn’t be too hard to find your ideal filing cabinet.
Make Zoom Meetings Easy
Zoom meetings are the new status quo, and so every remote worker should have a setup for frequent, recurring telemeetings integrated into their home office. You may want to invest in a new webcam, one that produces clear, high-quality footage and a microphone that doesn’t make you sound like a sputtering engine when speaking into it.
Be sure that your office is positioned so your background is professional: while you may have decorations and personalized elements in your home office (after all, who’s going to tell you no?), you want to make sure that they’re out of sight when in meetings.
Remote work isn’t just the new status quo temporarily, as many of the workers who have experienced the freedom of working in their own office space desire to keep this arrangement going indefinitely. Plan accordingly, creating the best possible space to keep you working efficiently during the pandemic and beyond.