Millions of us suddenly find ourselves working from home—often for the first time. It's creating some challenges. Not only can the equipment be different—like working on a single-screen laptop when you're used to two monitors—but offices are often set up for sitting in one place and being productive for long periods in ways your home may not be. Consider ergonomic chairs and desks that are just the right height for typing, for example.
Here are some tips for making your remote work experience a more successful one.
Start with a Dedicated Workspace
If possible, choose a room where you can close the door and keep distractions out. If your home doesn't have a dedicated office, is there a spare bedroom, dining room, or bonus room that you can claim? It helps a lot if family and pets can't wander in.
Setting a dedicated workspace also puts you in the right frame of mind and creates a mental barrier between "work time" and "home time" to help you stay focused and productive.
If you don't have the luxury of a separate workspace where you can close the door, kitchen tables and dining rooms can be practical too, but you may have to put up with occasional distractions.
Some of us are quite happy typing on a laptop on a couch—or even in bed—but that can lead to your brain associating places you usually relax with work, and that's not necessarily good for mental health. It's becoming more apparent that more people, potentially millions, will be working from home for quite a while, so this may be an excellent time to set up that comfortable home office you've been considering.
A home office doesn't have to be something formal with a traditional heavy wood desk and filing cabinets. A simple modern desk and a chair may be all you need, and they pack away more easily when not in use.
Desks and chairs can be relatively inexpensive and get you positioned with the proper posture and support you're used to in your regular office. Many modern home office desks easily adjust up and down so you can sit or stand and move around throughout the day to lessen mental and physical burnout.
A good-quality office chair also helps because they come with lumbar support and all sorts of adjustability, from back position to moveable armrests, so you're lined up just right for typing for long periods.
Add Some Extras
If you're using a laptop at home, but are used to a mouse instead of a mousepad, or multiple monitors, you can easily add them. Most laptops have at least one or two USB ports for plugging in peripherals. If you don't have enough, then use a USB port to add more.
Adding an external web camera, microphone, and headphones can significantly improve the quality of your video conferencing interactions with coworkers and customers as well.
Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
Some people were born to work from home, whereas others are starved for the social interaction and structure that a traditional office environment offers. Take the time to figure out how to make remote work successful for yourself. That may mean strictly mimicking the schedule you keep at work and drawing sharp lines between where you work at home versus where you spent your leisure time. Others may have no problem staying happy and productive while blending the two. It looks like we're in this for the long haul, so trying different things and even investing in new furniture or equipment may quickly pay off.