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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Modern Living

How to Design a Productive Home Office Space When You Have Roommates
• Indiana Lee

The pandemic changed so many things about the way people live and work. While remote work was already becoming more popular, the pandemic caused a sudden “boom” in work-from-home employees.

Source: Unsplash

Now that there’s a  light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, will remote work continue? In many cases, yes.  Employers have started to see that they can save money by letting some employees work from home. According to a December 2020 study by Pew Research, 54% of people want to continue working from home after the threat of the virus is gone.

But, many factors can make working from home difficult and distracting – including roommates.

If you plan to continue working remotely, having a productive and effective home office space is crucial. There are plenty of benefits to remote working, but it takes the right environment and the right mindset.

So, how can you affordably design a productive home office space when you share a living space with others?

Get Creative With Your Space

When you live with roommates, you’re likely either sharing an apartment or a house with a few communal locations, as well as your own bedroom. You might not have any spare rooms that you can use for an office.

But, you don’t need a separate room to create a functional workspace.

If your space is limited, consider some of the following options to get your work done:

  1. A corner of your bedroom
  2. The stair landing
  3. The kitchen/dining room
  4. A walk-in closet
  5. The basement
  6. The attic

Ultimately, your space needs to be in a low-traffic area of your home, so you aren’t distracted throughout the day.

If you’re still struggling to think of a good place to work inside, why not consider an outdoor office? Maybe you’re not the only one working from home right now, and indoor space is limited. Taking your work outside can actually boost your productivity, improve your mood, and help you to de-stress. An outdoor office space should have a comfortable layout, protection from the weather, and accessories that fit your sense of style and personality.

It might take a bit of creativity to put together a productive office at home. But, if you’re willing to think outside the box and make the most of your space, it can happen.

Keep Things Clean

Speaking of making the most of your space, your office should be a place of productivity. One of the best ways to make sure that happens is to keep it decluttered and organized. Optimize your workspace by:

  1. Getting rid of unnecessary things
  2. Putting things in their proper place right away
  3. Categorizing documents
  4. Utilizing storage boxes and files
  5. Checking your email inbox frequently to “clean” it out

Why is keeping things clean so important? First, it serves as a reminder that you’re using this space specifically for work. When you’re working from home, having that separate space is important so you can avoid distractions. That’s especially true if you’re working in an open area like the kitchen or living room, where you’re already surrounded by “home” things. Keeping your workspace clean and decluttered will improve your focus.

When you have a clean place to work, you’ll also feel less stressed. Clutter and disorganization can lead to discomfort. Instead of being productive and motivated, you might start to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. So, take the time to make sure everything is in its place. It’s okay to have a few personal items in your workspace. They can increase your comfort and help to motivate you throughout the day. But, clutter shouldn’t be a part of your workspace. Get rid of things that might distract you on your desk, the walls, or anywhere in the room.

Have the Right Resources

One of the potential drawbacks of remote working is not having all of the resources at your fingertips that you might have in a traditional office setting. But, thanks to technology, there’s no reason you can’t have everything you need to be successful at home.

Start with the basics by making sure you have some home office essentials, including a computer, comfortable furniture, and a reliable Internet connection. You know what it takes to get your job done effectively. Having the things you need might be an initial investment, especially if this is your first time working from home. But, when it comes to boosting your productivity, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Once you have the basics, you can branch out to determine what tools and resources are available that will make your job easier from home. Thankfully, in this digital world, most of the things you’ll need to work on can be found online.

Tools like an online whiteboard can help you to brainstorm ideas or collaborate with others. Note-taking apps will keep you organized, and a digital calendar will ensure you never miss a Zoom meeting or deadline.

Since remote work has seen such growth over the last year, more tools, apps, and software programs have become available to make things easier. Some of the most prominent ones to consider include:

  1. Proofhub and Basecamp for project management
  2. Troop Messenger and Slack for collaboration
  3. Google Drive and Dropbox for cloud storage services
  4. Krisp and Todoist for productivity

In addition to having work-related resources at your fingertips, you should be able to count on your roommates as resources too.  When you’re working from home, the people you live with need to respect your workspace and your hours.  That might take a conversation or two, but they should be there to support you and your work, not to distract you from it. They can also be your ultimate resources when it comes to needing help, or when you need to take a break.

So, while working from home with roommates might seem overwhelming, at first, it’s often well worth it. If you’re willing to get creative with a home office space and stay focused in all circumstances, you can enjoy all the benefits of a remote lifestyle, achieve a healthy work-life balance, and stay productive all at once.

Indiana Lee © Indiana Lee 5.4.21

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