How to reclaim your home
Working from home can be a challenge but with a little imagination and reorganisation you can create an effective and pleasant workspace.
It’s almost a year since Covid-19 so dramatically impacted every aspect of our lives and, during this time, the line between home and office has become inexorably blurred, especially with the addition of months of home schooling for many families.
Portions of living areas have morphed into zoom rooms and offices and dining tables have been annexed as workstations with the detritus of all this work having become a permanent fixture in most homes.
We are all now starting to come to terms with the fact that life will not return to the previous ‘normal’ any time soon and that many of us will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future – or even permanently.
And, with remote working no longer being a temporary measure, many people are feeling the need to formalise their home offices, to reclaim our homes and to reinstate a definite line between home and work life.
Steve Thomas, secure estate specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Constantiaberg, says that with a little imagination, reorganization and inspiration, it’s possible to create an effective and efficient workspace and re-establish the necessary boundaries between home and work life.
He suggests the following practical steps:
Identify what you need – For instance, you might require only a small desk for your laptop or you might need to add a larger table or workspace for artwork or large documents.
Find the best location – When space is tight and you don’t have an unused bedroom to annex, you have to think creatively about your office space – and the available space. Is there an unused corner in one of the larger rooms or do you have a cupboard that has enough space for a small desk? Even the space under the stairs can be effectively used as a workstation.
Prioritise comfort and back support – If your budget stretches to a decent office chair it’s well worth the investment. Yes, it’s easier to simply grab a dining chair, but back support is really important if you are spending hours at your desk and want to avoid future back and posture problems. Consider it an investment in yourself.
Increase your privacy – If you have set up office in a corner or portion of a room, it’s a great idea to use a room divider or even a curtain on a railing to give you the privacy you need and to shield you from distractions.
Storage savvy – Although few people need large filing cabinets anymore, we all still use pens, notepads, staplers and so on and need to be able to clear up and store away these items to avoid cluttering the desk. Compact options include stacked storage baskets, a simple cubby system with small bins or even plastic storage tubs. If you need a lot more space you could place a small bookshelf next to your desk.
Don’t Forget lighting – Poor lighting can cause you to strain your eyes and, over time that can lead to headaches and tiredness, neither of which are conducive to productivity. The first choice is to set up your office in an area that gets as much natural light as possible, but if this isn’t an option, make sure you select the right kind of lighting for your area and purpose. Indirect lights/lamps with shades or diffusers that soften the light and dampen the glare will be easier on your eyes.
“The suddenness of lockdown last March was especially difficult for people whose jobs usually entail being out and about and dealing with people much of the time. As estate agents, we had to adapt really fast and move our offices into the ‘cloud’ within a matter of days.
“And whilst some of us adapted the home office quite easily, others, like our wonderful PA, who is far less used to home working, created a full-on office in a tent in her garden, complete with table and chairs, electrical power and Wi-Fi as space and privacy from a young child indoors was difficult,” says Thomas.
However, if remote working is now your ‘new normal’, Thomas says it should be approached a little differently, both to preserve your sanity and to allow to you be as productive and constructive as possible. There are a number of factors one has to consider and implement:
Learn to recognize when you are most productive – Once you have done so, ensure you guard that time religiously and dedicate it to work as far as possible. However, during the times that you are more distracted and less focused, don’t start watching your favourite series from which will be hard to tear yourself away. Rather take a constructive break and have a snack or accomplish a small task such as hanging up the washing or making the kids lunch.
Take regular breaks away from your desk – Don’t simply open Facebook on your laptop, go outside and take a walk or sit in the sun (to get your daily Vitamin D dosage! Ed.) and fresh air. Try to move as often as possible – when on phone calls, walk around the room, or even the garden.
Embrace a new hobby – Without the lengthy commute, you finally have time to take up that hobby or activity you’ve always wanted to – if you ever had more time. Try to get something accomplished each day; it will make you feel much more productive.
It may not be your dream corner office with breathtaking views to which you’ve always aspired, but you can create a pleasant working environment in your own home. “There are no rules against playing music, using aromatherapy diffusers or allowing the cat on the desk. You can wear your comfiest clothes, take a tea break when it suits you and, best of all, the commute to your desk is a mere 30 seconds,” says Thomas.