Working from home.

If we had been given the choice to work from home a year ago, we probably would have jumped at the chance. Now that we MUST work from home, many of us feel isolated and depressed.

I offer this to us all…change occurs. Choose being adaptive. Stop thinking of this as a negative and embrace the possibilities! (THINK: No commute time; Relaxed dress codes; Fewer distractions, etc.)

In saying this, working from home six months ago may have sounded glorious, and now you are faced with needing to spread out and have uninterrupted peace and quiet to get something DONE, right?

Kids, pets, spouses, TV in the background, slow internet…everyone has had to deal with home office dilemmas recently. Some are currently under contract for a larger home. Others took over spare bedrooms or unused basement areas. There are sheds being built and garages being converted even as I write this.

An attractive and functional home office does not necessarily have to be a separate space. An area divided to keep your “work focus” can suffice, if done with consideration and intention.

The sofa, kitchen table, or bed was fine temporarily for the first few weeks of the stay-at-home/safer-at-home mandates, but as more people are finding out that they need to make arrangements to continue to work from their residences, something has to change.

Working from home can be great. And, maintaining focus with all the distractions daily life brings a problem that needs to be solved soon. Additionally, home workers often have difficulty separating work hours from non-work time unless they have a way to “shut the door and walk away”. Obtaining a balance has become critical as these co-working/living conditions will linger on for many of us.

Since it’s been proven that maintaining a professional schedule (we’re talking 8 A.M. – 5 P.M stuff) and performing from a desk in an office environment helps to keep your state-of-mind on business, you need to get your time and space defined.

I offer these suggestions on areas to pay special attention to when creating your perfect home/work environment:

STORAGE – There’s nothing more frustrating than having to pack up and put everything away — like when you’re working at the kitchen island and it’s time for dinner! Make sure your new office has storage that makes sense for items you need to organize (files, office supplies, etc.) and secure (important papers, computers, etc.).

Shelving, storage boxes, and baskets and magazine files are a great way to organize office clutter.

INSPIRATION – If your cubicle at work leaves (left?) a lot to be desired, now’s your chance to create what you want! A colorful rug, artwork, plants, and special momentos can now be displayed so that your office has a truly homey feeling (how ironic is that statement these days!)

 LIGHTING – Science has proven natural lighting improves mood and productivity so don’t settle for an office in a dark corner of your basement.

Additionally, you’ll sleep better and have higher concentration levels if you incorporate some natural light in your workspace.

A desktop or task lamp can help relieve eye fatigue if you work on a computer for long hours. Make sure the bottom of your lampshade is just above the height of your computer monitor.

TECHNOLOGY POSITIONING – Monitors should be just below eye level and approximately 20 inches away – about an arm’s length. Now might be a great time to invest in a desktop that can be raised so that you can stand while working during the day since the then-normal trip to the water cooler or coffee machine no longer exists. Be sure you get up – more around – take time for yourself.

Also, remember to do a trial ZOOM meeting to make sure that what is behind you looks professional and business-like. Look at the lighting on your face – natural is best. Make sure you aren’t sitting in shadows with a bright light or window directly behind you. Check the audio, too, to confirm it sounds clear and not hollow.

DESK and SEATING – Make sure your desk and seating are compatible. Having your desk too high will cause shoulder ache. Having it too low will cause neck pain. And, feet should be able to be comfortable on the floor without scooting forward or leaning back. An adjustable office chair might be the best and easiest solution!

During this time, managers and supervisors have learned their teams are able to work productively and effectively in a virtual environment. This is a big plus for corporate America! To them I offer this, perhaps you should share the above list and help support your humans in this new endeavor. While each has its strengths, planning, and developing a home office environment may not be one of them. Reach out and offer support and ideas. This alone could help someone feel better about the new and possibly ongoing reality we’re faced with.

In closing, know that I am here for you to discuss how you’re feeling and dealing with this new normal. Also, I invite you to join our bi-monthly ZOOM meetings on Change. These sessions are offered at no cost and with the help of others from across the nation in varying industries, we discuss casually and openly the trials and successes we are experiencing during this pandemic-driven time. Let me know if you’d like to be added to the list of attendees or – click here -.

I’m also offering specific one-hour sessions on Experiencing Change each month. Check them out here.