Working at Home
‘New normal’ requires boundaries, creativityBy Pamela A. Keene
With COVID-19, the world changed radically. From mask-wearing and handwashing
to working remotely, there’s no doubt a new set of stressors has made its way into the work world.
Creating a home office comes with its own challenges: finding a dedicated space that doesn’t interfere with family activities and accommodating the amount of filing and office supplies needed.
“Many people simply don’t have the space to designate a room for an office, but they may be able to carve out an area that’s not typically used during the day,” says Rose Molz, owner of EZ Office Products in Madison, Wisconsin. “In that case, using furniture — a large desk, a computer table, and good seating — can help delineate the area.”
It helps when a worker sets boundaries. For example, she suggests asking family members to act as though working moms and dads are away at the office and not accessible during the day, except at specific times.
“If the home office is not in the center of family activities, this is easier to accomplish,” Rose says. “Lunchtime can provide an opportunity for family interaction and a chance to get away from the ‘office’ for a bit.”
The bright side
Think: No time wasted in traffic. The ability to be home to care for a sick family member and still work. Coming to work in your pajamas. Being able to eat lunch at home and save money. Instituting flex-time to offset personal necessities such as doctors’ appointments, then making up the time after dinner.
“Just be sure that you’re being fair and communicating with your employer and workmates as necessary,” Rose says. “Research has shown that working at home can be more efficient than going into the office every day, but it is important to respect your employer and supervisor’s expectations of your workday.
Rose offers these tips to create a successful home office:
- Invest in a good chair. According to Science Daily, the average working person spends approximately 5 hours and 41 minutes sitting at a desk each day, resulting in sore backs, neck strains, and negative effects on the neuromuscular system. An ergonomic adjustable chair that’s truly suited to your height, weight, and build will help reduce these and other ailments as well as provide a comfortable place to work.
- Install proper lighting at your desk and computer areas. Work to eliminate strong shadows and choose lighting that’s easier on your eyes. Good lighting can supplement natural light and prevent workers from feeling isolated.
- Purchase a chair mat. It’s much easier to roll a desk chair on a mat across the carpet, and your body will thank you. Even with hardwoods, those floors need protection.
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