Insights

Working from home? Us too.

Use our interior designer’s tips to set up your work-from-home environment for success.

As many cities and states around the country implement a shelter-in-place policy to stop the spread of COVID-19, people are working from home and trying to be productive. While there are many tips that suggest setting up a work space, there aren’t a lot of tips on how. Here are tips to perfecting an inspiring and productive work-from-home space.

What location is best to work from home?

To help you pick the best location in your house, think about the windows in your home and access to power. It’s best to have access to daylight and views, as it’s an easy way to keep your energy up throughout the day. When thinking about your orientation to the window, face the window or sit or stand with it to your side. You don’t want to create glare on your computer screen. And if you’re on a video conference call with the window located behind you, it will mean that you appear as a dark shadow to everyone else. That said, being able to get power to your computer and your other devices safely will take precedence. If you don’t have access to a window, bring a task light and plant into your new workspace to get some of the same benefits.

How important are ergonomics?

While it can be tempting to work from your sofa or bed, our bodies weren’t designed to work in those positions, and you could risk injury. Think about how you work in the office and translate that to your home. If you primarily sit at work, you can work from a dining table or desk. If you usually stand at work, you can work from a kitchen counter or island.

For more info on ergonomics at home see our tips for improved work-from-home ergonomics.

Are there noises in your house that are distracting? What about noise from outside?

This is another place where you need to think about what you are accustomed to in the office and try to replicate what makes you the most comfortable at home. A white noise machine or noise cancelling headphones can help drown out distracting background noise. Some people report that they miss the noise of their office mates while working from home and will turn on a TV in another room to have some background noise throughout the day.

How do you make working from home work if there are multiple people at home?

Speaking of office mates, many people have new office mates that they aren’t accustomed to having around during the day, whether a roommates, family, children, or pets. Just remember that they are all used to their own schedules even though they may not sync up with your work schedule. Perhaps set a time in the morning or evening for a household meeting to discuss schedules for the day so that everyone can be sensitive to each other’s important deadlines and projects (or walks!).

How do you manage a team from afar?

Working from home can be even harder on managers who are no longer working side by side with their teams. However, here are things everyone can do to stay connected while still complying with social distancing:

Having regular, short check-ins with teams can help people shift workload in real time or share problems and opportunities. We tend to check in with each other even more frequently during the day, so check-ins help teams feel more connected.

Whenever possible, use built-in cameras to be able to see each other. While it’s nice to hear each other’s voices, we connect more by seeing one and another. Plus, when your camera is on, you are less likely to be distracted by doing something else and your meetings will be more focused and faster when everyone is engaged.

Another option is holding Zoom office hours. The great part about Zoom is that within your call, you can have break-out sessions to give even more flexibility.

As we all adjust to working from home you may find new tools, new insights, and new routines that help you adjust to the new normal.

 

For questions or comments about this article, please contact Melissa Pesci. HGA has created a hub for our insights and reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic as architects, engineers, interior designers, and problem solvers. Follow the conversation here.