The Unplanned Home Office
Updated: Apr 27
So here we are. A little over a week into full-fledged social distancing. Or in some cases, government stay-at-home orders. Now millions of Americans who worked in offices or co-working spaces are working from home. With laptops on couches, at our kitchen tables, in our bedrooms. Wherever we can find a semi-quiet space. This is not something we planned for, and it may go on for weeks.
How can we be productive and stay sane? As a designer, my mind always goes to creating spaces and places as a way to solve problems. So here are 4 quick tips to make your unplanned home office work for you.
Comfortable seating. Perhaps most important, you need a comfortable place to sit down. Does a kitchen chair work, or do you prefer your exercise ball? If you can’t live without your usual task chair, could you swing by your office and pick it up (assuming you have a big enough car and you’re not under a local shelter-in-place order)? If you don’t have an ideal seating situation, consider standing for part of the day. Take a moment to assess what’s comfortable for you. Your back will thank you.
Good lighting. Ideally, you’ll have overhead lighting where you’re working, plus task lights. You might need to move lamps around in your house to create this space. It may not be ready for the pages of Architectural Digest, and that’s okay. Functionality is king right now.
Ergonomic set up. Lounging on your couch with your laptop works for quick emails at night. But we’re in this for the long haul. So it may be worth investing in an adjustable laptop stand and external keyboard to get your monitor at the appropriate viewing height and keep your hands aligned comfortably. You can find a decent laptop stand for as little as $40 online, and if you’re like me, you have a graveyard of old mouses and keyboards in a closet somewhere. Invest a little in setting this up correctly to protect your neck and wrists.
Motivation. A great office space provides natural light and views that inspire. Can you situate your temporary work station so you have a view to the outdoors? Would photos of your family or fresh flowers at your desk create a calm work environment? Figure out what small touches will motivate you and make your home work station more conducive to actually working.
Finally, you might need more frequent breaks to get up and move around in this less-than-ideal office environment. Give yourself that time. And remember, this too shall pass.