Work from home setup: 5 tips for working from home effectively

It’s no surprise that in today’s world, many Canadians find themselves suddenly working from home. Are you in this group? If so, you might ask yourself ‘’how can I make working from home a positive and productive experience?” This might seem particularly challenging if you have a small home or children.

Good news. While working from home has pros and cons, you can do it, especially if it’s a temporary work from home situation. While working at home isn’t ideal for everybody, with some creative thinking and organizing, it’s definitely doable.

Use these 5 tips to create a more productive and successful work from home setup best suited to you, your work requirements, and your family responsibilities.

1. Create a productive workspace at home

You may have worked from home occasionally before. However, most of us think of home as a place to unwind after work and on the weekends. It’s an adjustment to think of home as a place to work Monday to Friday, but it is possible if you create the right environment. Here’s how to build a productive work from home setup.

Ideally, your work from home space should include a room with a door to shut. If you live in a small home, even a walk-in closet can work for a temporary work from home office. If your work includes teleconference calls, choose a space with good lighting and background.

Next, add a chair and table or desk. Put cushions on your chair if needed so you’re at the right angle to comfortably work with your keyboard. If space very tight, work at your kitchen table or breakfast bar.

If you can’t create a separate workspace, get creative with the space you do have. For example, if you work at your kitchen table, dedicate a drawer or cabinet (or even install a shelf nearby) to hold your gear. If you work on a laptop while sitting on a couch in your living room, keep a basket nearby to hold your work gear. This way, all your supplies are organized and within reach.

Finally, invest in noise-canceling headphones and/or headphones for your smartphone so you can take work calls while at your computer – and block out the noise from your family or roommates.

Working from home doesn’t require an elaborate and expensive home office. Work with what you already have in your home for a cheap work from home setup.

2. Recognize your most productive hours

Depending on your job, you might enjoy more freedom to plan your work hours when you work from home than you ever did at the office. Take the opportunity to work with your own energy levels and maximize your work from home productivity.

Are you more alert in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Use this time for work that requires more focus, such as strategy sessions, doing calculations, and writing work. Save tasks such as responding to emails, administration work, and less intense duties for times when you typically have less energy – after lunch is a great time to catch up on these types of tasks.

3. Coordinate your work hours with your family members

If your family is also at home during the day, talk to your spouse about coordinating your work schedules and child-minding duties. Planning one-on-one time with each child daily might help minimize the interruptions during your work hours because they know they’ll get time with you later.

Set up a schedule for children that includes time with you, independent schoolwork, screen time, nap or quiet time, chore time, and outdoor time. If your children are younger, work when they sleep or when your spouse is watching them. Depending on your own best working hours, get up two or three hours earlier, or stay up later (don’t do both).

You’ll need to set firm boundaries around your work hours -- but don’t be surprised if they push those boundaries - after all, staying home all day might be new to them as well. And experts advise that it is also important to stick to your own schedule so you avoid getting burnt out or working longer hours than required.

4. Break up your day

When you work from home, you might find your working hours broken into smaller chunks than when you worked in an office. This is especially true if your children are at home now as well because, depending on their ages, they’ll need your time and attention as well.

Take breaks to spend time with your kids, go for a walk, and have virtual coffee breaks with colleagues. One of the benefits of working from home is getting housework done in your work breaks. Do a load of laundry, run the dishwasher, or mop the kitchen floor when you need a break. You’ll come back to your work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.

5. Stay positive to stay productive

According to a recent New York Times article, one of the key work from home tips to stay positive and productive is to stick to the same workday schedule that you followed before you started working from home. Shower and dress for work, schedule your work time, and try to avoid working beyond the hours you’ve set for yourself.

To protect your mental health and positive attitude, create or maintain a self-care routine. Getting enough sleep, exercise, fresh air, and healthy food all positively impact your mental and physical health and productivity when you work from home.

Remember, the key is to create a positive work from home environment and productive workspace that best suits your working hours, needs, living space, and family lifestyle. Doing so will go a long way to helping you stay focused, happy, and healthy while spending time at home.