Return Stronger — Tips for Setting up a Remote Workspace

December 2, 2020

By Ashley Sisneros


You are now working from home, so pull the coffee table up to the couch, or set up the makeshift pillow stand in your bed. It is time to relax... or is it? While working from home supports work-life balance, let this new balance strengthen all areas of your life, including your work life. Setting up a productive workspace can strengthen your focus, and at home, you have the freedom to create your own space, so have fun with it! The right combination can support your health, happiness, and productivity. What inspires or motivates you? Your personal touch will make your home office comfortable, and with the following tips on setting up a proper workspace, your productivity will flourish.


1. Location. Location. Location.




The location of your workspace is important for focus and productivity. Many people do not have a dedicated room where they can close the door to household activities. This is the time to get creative! Consider an unused area or corner of a room, a closet, or the kitchen table. However, consider that the kitchen table may be a busy area, and packing up your work for meals could be disruptive. Ideally, you want to choose the quietest place in your home. If your space does not give you privacy, consider a room divider or hanging a curtain. This separates you and provides a visual message to others that you are currently unavailable, which can decrease interruptions. Refer to the Tips for Self-Care while Working at Home for setting boundaries and avoiding distractions during your workday.


2. Setting up your workstation.




Create a workspace that is professional, and will be comfortable long-term. Check with your employer before purchasing equipment, as many employers provide supplies and equipment. To increase focus and productivity, and to support ergonomics, the minimum setup should be actual office furniture, desk and chair. Avoid using furniture from the rest of the house, such as a dresser or kitchen chair. Improper equipment can contribute to discomfort, headaches, and pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.


A proper desk chair supports your posture, so ensure it is adjustable to the height of your desk and has lumbar support and armrests. Ensure your monitor is at eye-level, experiment with the placement of your computer screen in relation to your head tilt, and distance from your eyes. Consider using a screen riser, or old books to lift your computer off the dest. Finally, your spine should be in a neutral position.


3. Organize.




Organization is key to reducing stress. Have a dedicated solution for files, paper, pens, and other needed supplies. This keeps your desk clear and supports focus during your workday. Group items together so you know where to find specific documents, and remove items from your workspace that do not contribute to your work. Clear a shelf of closet space to store items that need to be tucked away, especially sensitive or important documents that need to be protected. If you are working from the kitchen table during the day and need to move for meals, consider storage bins to pack all your work items in. You do not want dinner splattered all over your paperwork. Make the most of your space while organizing. Even if you do not have a large amount of space, think of building up, organizing your space with a tall bookcase, or floating shelves. Finally, you may also need to use power strips and extension cords to power your workspace. Ensure your safety with power cord safety basics, and organize cords that may be scattered on or around your desk with twist ties or velcro.


4. Establish a productive atmosphere.




Lighting is important for attention to your work. Poor lighting can cause strain on your eyes, contributing to headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness and could negatively impact productivity. Choose to set up your workspace in a place where you get as much natural light as possible, natural light increases your mood. If you do not have an area that provides natural light, add a desk lamp to light your area. Consider what hue may be productive for you, warm light contributes to calm, and bright white lights support alertness. 


Colors also make a difference. Specific colors evoke different feelings, relaxation, creativity, or focus. Do you need a relaxing color that reduces stress? Green, blue, and gray can help calm and balance your workspace. Colors like yellow, red, and orange can be stimulating. Consider your work, and what you may need to balance yourself.