Create A Productive Home Office

A functional, effective remote workspace takes effort. Here's how to design yours

Being productive while working remotely takes attention to detail and forethought. Try these expert tips.

Define the space

The ideal work-from-home setup includes a designated room for your office with a door that can be closed, says Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette coach who has worked remotely for about 20 years. If that’s not possible, you at least need a desk that is to be used only for work.

“To have space all your own and not share it with anyone is very important” she says.

Outfit your office

Think about what features you’d expect in a traditional office and apply those to your home workspace. That starts with good lighting, a large-enough desk and a comfortable office chair.

Whitmore’s office also includes a second monitor, two printers and a supply closest with everything she might need. Her reference books are organized on a nearby shelf.

Prepare for noise

To keep her office quiet, Whitmore keeps her door closed and uses a white-noise machine to block out the occasional lawnmower or garbage truck. Noise-cancelling headsets are another option.

For people dealing with children and pets at home, Whitmore recommends attempting to “set regular office hours and let the family know that, during this time, I’m off-limits.” When quiet is essential, arranging childcare or a playdate can be a solution.

Dress for productivity

You don’t have to wear business casual to get a lot done. Comfort is the top priority, especially if you’re working many hours at a time.

“If it makes you feel more productive to dress up, then dress up,” Whitmore says. “But that’s not for everybody.”

(Of course, if you’ve got a video call scheduled, you’ll want to make yourself presentable.)

Take meaningful breaks

It’s easy to get distracted by a pile of dirty dishes or laundry. Whitmore suggests building those domestic chores into the workday as breaks from your monitor. She works for a bit, then gets up and tends to a chore or goes for a walk.

“It allows your mind to rest and reboot and recharge, and then you sit back down and look at the project with fresh eyes,” she says.

Inspire yourself

Choose a space with a view if you can. If you don’t have a view, create one with art or objects that make you happy. Avoid staring at a blank wall, Whitmore says.

“I have windows on three sides of me, and I look out into my front yard. I can see the trees and the birds and the people who walk by, and it’s very stimulating,” she says.

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