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Remote work requires a remote office

woman smiling while working from home on her computer

COVID-19 forced many of us to abandon our workstations at the office and work remotely from home.

At first, the thought of strolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of coffee and flipping open the laptop – all while still wearing our pajamas – sounded like a great idea.

Then, reality hit. The comfortable recliner in our living room isn’t so comfy for an eight-hour workday, and neither is the kitchen table. We never found a system to organize paperwork. Our workdays lacked structure.

Remote work requires a remote office, but professionals often don’t have a home office.

Many businesses have the technological capability of directing employees to work from home, but they weren’t prepared for the rapid cultural shift caused by COVID-19. Health experts caution that COVID-19 will continue impacting communities for the foreseeable future. Social distancing, according to the CDC, offers the best opportunity to thwart the virus’ spread.

Major corporations like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have widened work-from-home policies in recent months. Some companies may never return to a traditional office environment.

Employees considering a temporary or permanent work-from-home position should consider the following six tips to set up a home office that that will ensure a comfortable, productive workday:

  • Chair: This is the most important piece of a home office. Find a chair that hits all of the ergonomic targets: adjustable height, padded cushion and ample support for your lower back. Armrests also help keep your shoulders aligned. Purchase a chair mat to avoid scratching the floor.
  • Desk: Measure your space prior to purchasing a desk. Your desk should be large enough to hold a monitor, keyboard and printer, as well as space for folders and files. Drawers and cabinets are ideal for keeping confidential documents out of plain view. It also should be easy to clean. Many newer desks are made of materials that won’t be damaged by antibacterial sprays.
  • Electronics: Laptops are great for quick assignments at home, but for a full day, connect your laptop to a large HD monitor adjusted so that the top of the monitor is slightly below eye level. Use a full-size keyboard and mouse positioned just above your thighs, and make sure your home office has a strong WiFi or wired connection.
  • Video studio: Many staff and client meetings are now held via Zoom or Microsoft teams, so a high-quality camera and microphone also are essential. That offers another reason to upgrade your Internet service. Look behind you to make sure the video background is professional – framed artwork, bookshelves or plain walls are best.
  • Lighting: Rooms in a home typically only have one overhead light. Position the desk to the side of a window to allow natural light into the room, and consider a desk lamp to brighten the space. Good lighting is proven to increase performance.
  • Get up: Professionals often stop by a colleague’s office to collaborate or chat at the water cooler. There is no one to get up and go see at home, but research shows brain functions improve with regular activity. Even just strolling around the house for two minutes or checking the mail will increase blood flow to the brain.

Bonus tip: Dress for success. Getting dressed for work, even just slacks and a polo shirt, helps frame your workday. Plus, if you receive an unexpected video call from a client or your boss, you will look polished and professional on camera.

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