Above: Photo by BRUNO CERVERA
I have a confession: I love working in an office environment. At least, in a generally well-balanced, lively office environment. Our company has WFH Fridays, which is a nice perk – however, I still come into the office on Fridays because I find myself most productive in an office. With the COVID-19 situation, many companies in the San Francisco bay area changed to remote work this week, ours included. While the current timeline is two weeks, we’re really not sure how long we’ll need to continue WFH – so it was time to finally make my space “work-ready” with the following steps.
EDIT: As of today, March 16th, six counties in the Bay Area have officially issued a “shelter in place” mandate through April 7th. So, we’ll be WFH for a while.
Make your space comfortable, physically comfortable
While I’ve had a desk and chair for years, my ‘work area’ wasn’t really suitable for extended periods of time. I still love my IKEA desk (a Craigslist find) and bucket chair – but it wasn’t the right combination for me due to the mismatch in height. Specifically, the desk was too tall / the chair was too short for me to maintain the right angle in my arms when working on my computer.
I’d been meaning to get a new, adjustable height chair for some time and this was finally the impetus for me to do so. Of course, there are a ton of expensive, fancy desk chairs out there, but I wanted something simple and functional. I’m really pleased with the IKEA LÅNGFJÄLL so far. Not only is it functional, but it also comes in an aesthetically pleasing selection of colors – I love the white base. I’m now able to work much more comfortably at my desk with this simple ergonomic upgrade.
The little things matter
I added a small plant, a candle and a rug to the space (I moved this over from another room) to make it feel a little cozier and less blah. These have helped the space ‘feel’ more comfortable from a visual perspective, and were easy to do.
And while I’m an introvert by nature, I personally love being surrounded by the bustle of conversations and interactions. For that reason I enjoy working in cafes and coffee shops (not an option right now, obviously). When I feel like I’m lagging, I’ll play this coffee shop YouTube video in the background. Sounds very silly, but it really does help.
That’s really it for the changes I made to my space – the following are some tips I’ve found helpful for being productive at home.
Have a schedule
If your days are packed with meetings, this may not be an issue. If not, I’ve found it helpful to schedule time into my calendar for working on specific tasks or projects.
Having some sort of structure to the workday (even if it’s not through official calendar events) helps put some urgency (read: productivity) into the day. This also goes for starting and ending the day – I aim to be online by 9am at the latest, and will generally be offline (laptop closed, and put in another room) by dinnertime.
Dress the part
Even with video conferencing as the norm, it’s easy to stay in comfy sweatpants all day. I try to maintain as much of my morning routine as possible – including putting on a “work outfit”. Granted, my workplace is casual so this doesn’t require much – but I definitely feel a difference in my productivity when I’m wearing a sweater and jeans vs. chilling in sweatpants.
If you have any other tips or advice for working from home, I’d love to hear them!