Updated: May 15, 2020
Navigating the new normal
As we settle into new routines, many of us may find the “work from home” concept to be foreign and stressful. Whether you’re grappling with a packed house, balancing multiple schedules within one home, or living in tight quarters, there are many factors that come into play as you embark on setting up a productive home office space. The reality is that we are all experiencing these changes right now. Take a deep breath – and know that you are not alone!
Though we cannot control external factors, there are certain steps that can be taken in an effort to instill some calm and consistency in a new daily working routine.
Making the transition to remote work as seamless as possible
It’s encouraging to note that many successful businesses operate well with remote workers. In the United States alone, 4.7 million employees work from home at least half the week, a number that is increasing due to the current circumstances.
Many of these remote workers have integrated certain practices and habits that make for a conducive working experience at home. They are the proof that creating a positive work life at home is quite possible.
Here are some tips to create a healthy and positive home office environment:
1. Designate your spot
If at all possible, we recommend setting a designated spot for office hours. Space designation will create a state of normalcy, providing a much-needed sense of relief. Your brain will recognize that when you are sitting at your desk (or kitchen table – whatever works!), you are on office hours, while the couch is an after-hours zone. This is also a key step in minimizing interruptions.
Choosing the right spot also means considering important items that make for an efficient home office setup. Does this spot have a strong Internet connection? Is it in earshot of a loud street or neighbors? Identify any obstacles that might come up as stressors as this will give you a sense of stability going forward.
2. Try out minimalism
Minimal clutter means minimal stress! Your home office organization can have a significant impact on productivity. Minimalist advocate Marie Kondo preaches this mentality as a core method of achieving mind-body calm and peak happiness levels. She created the KonMari decluttering method, which has proven to be an integral tool in “sparking joy” for its followers.
Where does one start in this quest? First, eliminate the clutter of books, papers, or kids toys that may be lurking around your workspace. According to psychology professor Robert T. Muller, PhD, “having fewer items in your space reduces stress or anxiety” and is a popular consensus among those spending much of their time at home.
3. Engage your senses
External self-care measures can help elevate your workspace, creating a soothing environment that lends to higher productivity levels. Try lighting a scented candle or adding a succulent to your desk space. The stimulating benefits of aromatherapy have been proven to promote a sense of calm and spiritual well-being in the face of stressors.
While integrating self-care, this is also an opportunity to use your creativity toward a home office design that appeals to your personal aesthetic. This might include something as simple as adding a decorative affirmation to your wall or purchasing a new brightly coloured notebook.
4. Get out of the dark!
If you have the means, we’d encourage working in a spot that has some access to natural light. This can be a game changer when it comes to mood boosters and productivity. Light access can help your space feel a bit larger and airy, especially if you live in a small apartment.
Gloomy day? Not enough windows? No problem. A light box can get the job done just as well! Known to help alleviate seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms, a light box may be a key tool in brightening your home office environment.
5. Instill familiarity
Don’t let go of all your rituals. If you’re used to prepping your lunch, exercising before work, or setting hourly check-ins, it can be helpful to continue these habits throughout this transition. These breaks and habits are still necessary and plausible to keep in your routine (safely, of course!). Familiarity is key to keeping your creative juices flowing throughout the day.
Similarly, how many of us decorate our office with photos and relics that make us feel at home? Well, an at-home office shouldn’t be any different! Create a bit of familiarity and comfort, ensuring a sense of stability in your routine.
Seeing the positive in challenging times
During this time of uncertainty, there’s a silver lining that peeks out among the clouds. We are being pulled to spend more time strengthening our relationships, practicing introspection, and coming together as a global community. We have all seen a sense of global unity – from pictures of frontline workers helping the sick to videos of people around the world applauding their service.
Also spend time with your loved ones and create a safe and healthy environment for yourself as we all navigate the future. You are doing your part by simply creating your own normalcy at home during a stressful time. That is a feat in itself, and we are proud of you!