Working from your bed, couch, on a folding chair at a card table, or at a kitchen table (if you’re lucky) during the coronavirus pandemic can get old quickly.
Poor posture, constant interruptions, poor lighting, not finding paperwork and other things you need quickly, and working in an uninspiring “office,” among other problems, may be sapping your will to get much work done.
And if your children and a spouse are all working or going to school from home, you could all be trying to create a workspace at home.
Here are some things that can help make a great home office:
Working side-by-side with your partner may not be the most productive workspace, even if it’s in a legitimate office in your home. If you’re seeing them every other hour of the day, do you really want to spend eight more next to each other?
Try to find a separate room for each worker/student. It must have a door or be in another area away from the house.
A bedroom is a student’s typical spot to do homework, but they may want to get out of there if they’re taking classes at home. Set up a workspace in a spare bedroom, if you have one, or in a remodeled garage or backyard patio. Give them as much privacy as possible.
For working adults, phone calls and Zoom meetings are also best with some privacy, so use part of a bedroom to set up an office. That’s the key here: setting up an office space, no matter how small, so work can be done comfortably.
The kitchen table is an attractive spot, but it’s a temporary one. With people walking in and out throughout the day to get meals and snacks, disruptions will be almost constant. And everyone will gather there for dinner, requiring the worker to put all of their stuff away for the night.
Instead, consider working in the garage or outside if it’s pleasant enough and no electrical outlets are needed. You may have to use extension cords or charge laptops in the house before working in these areas. Or hire an electrician to add some outlets.
A fold-out card table can work as a desk, but for the long haul, consider a real desk to make work/studying more comfortable.
The industry standard for a work desk height is 29 inches based on the average person’s height. Your kitchen table probably differs.
Find a desk that fits your needs and has enough room for your computer setup and where a chair fits comfortably.
If you’re putting your workspace in your bedroom, consider a narrow desk that doesn’t take up much room or one with a fold-down top. Ikea has all kinds of desks in different shapes and sizes.
Your computer monitor should have a viewing angle 15-20 degrees below eye level. A separate monitor can be set on an adjustable or fixed-height monitor stand or riser. A monitor riser can also be used for a laptop, though you might need a separate keyboard to type of comfortably.
And don’t forget your Zoom background. Putting your desk in the kitchen could show the world your kitchen during the pandemic. Either turn it around with a wall behind you during video calls, or consider a space with a blank wall behind you when deciding where to put your desk.
A chair is a very personal choice. You may want one with an adjustable height, armrests at a certain level, wheels, and specific type of fabric.
The point is to have a comfortable chair that supports your back. Working in bed doesn’t offer much support, so it’s time to find an ergonomic solution that will keep you feeling good.
You’re going to be sitting in a chair for most of the day, so get one that is comfortable and lets you keep your feet flat on the floor and elbows at a 90-degree angle and even with your computer.
Look for a chair with these features:
- Adjustability in height
- Lumbar support
- Arm rests
- Fits your desk and room
The size is up to you, but a desk chair with a small footprint that isn’t bulky will be a lot easier to maneuver than a big one.
Try it out before you buy it. If that isn’t possible, check the return fees and policy before buying.
How you organize and store your work stuff is an important factor that can get overlooked when shopping for a desk or creating a small workspace.
You don’t want to turn your bedroom floor into a dumping ground for your paperwork. Solutions include:
- Set of desk trays to hold paperwork
- Rolling file cabinet
- Plastic storage boxes
- Pencil holder
- Tray to hold phone, glasses and other items
- Magazine file box
- Floating shelves