There are a lot of perks to working from home, which is part of the reason why so many people aspire to find a remote job. Lounging around in your PJs all day while earning a paycheck?
But there are also sometimes drawbacks to working in the same place that you live—particularly if you’re a little short on space.
How can you effectively work from home when your house isn’t very big to begin with?
Check out these five tips on making the most of your limited workspace.
1. Let in the Light
If you have windows in your cozy home, then you may want to set up your workspace in an area that gets plenty of natural light. Working near a window can help you reap some of the benefits of natural light exposure, as well as help make you more productive and put you in a more positive mood.
Of course, if you prefer, if you have curtains, shades or other window treatments on your window, you can still keep them closed to block of light or maintain privacy. But letting in as much light as possible can make your smaller workspace seem bigger, in addition to offering the following benefits:
- Reduces chances of developing a headache
- Lowers onset of fatigue
- Lessens eye strain
For people who have little or no access to windows in their small home, investing in whiter lighting for the workspace can help simulate natural light.
Keep in mind that the lighting in your office area doesn’t have to be the same as the rest of your home; in fact, having a brighter light in your workspace and softer light in your living and relaxation space can help you shift gears when you start and stop working.
However, if you’re turning to artificial lighting to brighten your workspace, make sure you are still able to get outside and enjoy a little sunlight for at least a short time each day.
2. Make the Space Functional
Sure, your home office might only be a small corner of your living space, but having a functional one can make all the difference in your productivity. Worry less about making your desk cute and more about making it easier to work in. Once you have an efficient space to work in, you can then worry about decor.
When you are short on square footage, you might also need to be flexible with your workspace. For example, you could move your kitchen table to a specific part of your home during the day and use that as your desk rather than investing in an office desk that you might not have room for.
Are you looking to use an adjustable desk? If you feel like standing while at your computer, you could use a tray or other secure stand on top of your table, or you could set up a full-size ironing board.
You might have to get creative with where you place your computer or other work equipment. If possible, try to work from the same part of your home each day to establish a routine that helps your body and mind know when it’s time to work.
3. Be Aware of Your Background for Video Calls
Chances are good that if you work from home and do work online, you will need to have a video chat with clients or coworkers at some point. It’s important to be aware of your background for any video call. You should avoid aiming your camera where a lot of personal belongings can be seen, particularly if your camera is in a room that maybe hasn’t been cleaned up that day. You also want to limit the chance that a housemate or other person in your home walks by in the middle of your meeting.
While some video calling and virtual meeting software offers virtual backgrounds to cloak your real video background, it’s not always the best option to use that feature. The best thing you can do is position your laptop or camera so that there’s a wall or bookshelf behind you, where housemates are less likely to walk by and the camera doesn’t have a view of the other parts of your home.
You can even decorate the wall for a personal touch. If your home setup doesn’t allow for you to position yourself with a wall behind you during a video call, just make sure you know what is visible in your background and remove anything personal that you don’t want others to see.
4. Set a Schedule and Stick to It
Working in an office that you have to commute to has its benefits, particularly the fact that your work and your home are separate locations. When you work from home in a small space, it can feel like you never fully leave work or you never fully leave home. Both options can weigh heavy on your productivity. That’s why it’s vital that you set your work schedule and location and stick with them.
If you decide to work in the mornings, then choose the hours you plan to work and follow them every workday. When it’s time to stop working, step out of your workspace leave the job there. This might mean turning off your work email and phone, or at least not checking them during personal hours.
Establishing and sticking to a strict work-from-home schedule will help you more easily shift between modes. Because you don’t technically have a commute to and from work, it can also help to have some sort of transition routine between wrapping up work and vegging on the couch. Some ideas include:
- After finishing work for the day, take a shower
- Get dressed for work in the morning and change into more comfortable clothing when the workday is over
- Go for a walk or a short drive before starting or after finishing work
5. Keep Your Workspace Separate From Your Relaxing Space
Boundaries are important if you are working from home for the long term, which means you need a dedicated space to work that is apart from the rest of your living space. While this can sometimes be difficult in homes where space is limited, you can still decide if a specific corner or spot at the kitchen table can be your workspace.
You should avoid working from the sofa, which can impact your posture and also increase the risk of distraction, as well as avoid working from your bed, which could impact your ability to sleep well and shift all the way out of work mode.
Whatever space you choose to work from in your small home, be sure you only do work in that specific space. This will help you to better maintain a hard line between working and relaxing, which is essential for efficient working from home.
While it may take a little initial creativity, you can still make a dedicated workspace meet your needs when you work from home in a smaller residence. If a remote job is your goal and you’re great at self-management, then establishing a dedicated work area, sticking to a schedule and defining work-home boundaries can help you live your dream. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your unique work-from-home routine right now.