June 1, 2020

Setting the Table for Success While Working From Home – Three Tips

By Megan Last, Senior Manager, Learning & Development

Setting the Table for Success While Working From Home – Three Tips Advisory

As of this writing, it’s been more than two months since many of us transitioned to working from home. Do you even remember what your desk looks like? If you are still one of the many people struggling to adjust, we can help! We asked our colleagues to weigh in with lessons learned during this time in hopes that their advice can help make your home-based work time as pleasant and productive as possible. We hope you find their insights below useful.

Tip #1: Consider your workspace

Your home workspace is, at least for the time being, the center of your working universe. It’s where ideas big and small are developed; where decisions are made; where discussions are held; and where work is produced. You’re spending hours of each day in your workspace, so embrace it, make it your own and make it work for you. In this regard, details matter. Consider:

  • What items are at your desk for everyday use? Colored pens? Post-its? Determine what you need to be productive, and organize it on your desk so it’s within easy reach and doesn’t cause unnecessary clutter.
  • What decorates your workspace? A framed photo? Stress ball? A memento from a vacation or outdoor excursion?
  • Do you like bringing the outdoors in? If so, maybe a small plant will do the trick.

Once you have your workspace set to your liking, it’s important to ensure a quality lighting mix within that space. Artificial light helps us read and see things indoors so we don’t strain our eyes, but as human beings, we need natural light, too. Sit in a space that offers direct, or at least indirect, exposure to natural light.

Consider three other keys to making your workspace truly comfortable:

  • Utilize ergonomic settings for your chair, keyboard, mouse and headset/headphones.
  • Take a “field trip” to different rooms or environments for various meetings or projects. A change of scenery can work wonders in terms of generating inspiration and energy.
  • Give yourself breaks just like you normally would back at the office. Think mini chair breaks to stretch your arms, neck and legs; take a short walk after lunch; and get up periodically to get some water or a healthy snack.

If you’re used to working with others in an office setting, working from home can seem isolating – even with family members around. To combat this, make your webcam your friend. So many of us are missing everyday connections we used to share with colleagues in our hallways, offices and lunchrooms. Connecting visually with colleagues using your webcam is a tangible way for us to get that connection back.

That said, appearances matter, even on webcams, so consider the background behind you – is it appropriate or distracting? Does it need to be explained to those interacting with you if you can’t change it?

Finally, if you don’t already have them, think about acquiring a good set of headphones or ear buds. Headphones can help reduce background noise for you and attendees in your meetings; they can keep noise levels down in your house for other at-home workers; and many come with built in microphones for use in meetings.

Tip #2: Be true to your “working style”

Are you a morning person, or do your engines rev at 3:00 p.m.? Whatever the answer is, capitalize on your best and most productive time. Do you prefer the white noise of a television in the background, or do you need silence to work through a project? Try to incorporate what you need into your workspace and the environment that surrounds it.

Tip #3: Set boundaries

Where appropriate, differentiate “work” from “home”—close the door to your workspace (if one exists; if it doesn’t, close it figuratively) so you can be present with your family. It’s also important to dedicate time for physical activity away from your workspace for a change of scenery. Other strategies:

  • Be sure you’re eating on a regular schedule and consider healthy choices.
  • Log off all devices at a certain time each night to dedicate yourself (and possibly those around you) to relaxation and sleep.
  • Even if you’re working with teams in different time zones, be transparent about when you are available and when you have disconnected for the day.

Whether you had previously dedicated a space to be your home office, or you’ve transitioned to working from home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these tips can help you stay productive, comfortable and sane during challenging times like these.

Coronavirus Resource Center

Have more questions about the impact of the coronavirus on your business? Visit Marcum’s Coronavirus Resource Center for up-to-date information.