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8 steps to creating your perfect home-office environment

At the time of writing this post it had only 7 steps. Due to the recent COVID-19 updates and enforced State by State closures and lockdown announcements of the last 24 hours, I have included an additional step aimed at workers with children.

Any mums or mums to be out there know what it’s like to go through the ‘nesting’ period. Preparing the nursery for the arrival of your baby is fun, exciting and very rewarding. Dads too enjoy the process of creating a space within the home, but you don’t have to be a parent to get a similar feeling.

Creating an environment where you feel creative, productive and can concentrate in whatever way is best for you individually is probably the biggest perk of working from home — creating your work nest is one way to get in the mindset of positive working during this unprecedented time in history.

Be one of the people uses this time wisely and takes it as an opportunity to explore what you’re capable of. Learn more, listen to that podcast, pick up that book, begin that project, upskill — apply yourself and be the best version of you that you can be in a crisis.

Being content in your workspace is not a difficult feat to achieve and here are 7 wise ways to help get you there!

Getting back to nature

I'm talking light, air, perspective. Position your desk or couch (wherever you feel most comfortable working) so you have a view of the outdoors. Keep the curtains and blinds open and let in some air and as much natural light as possible.

This is your opportunity to say goodbye to the dreaded fluoro office lights that plague our working existence, causing headaches and eye problems. Remember this virus hates vitamin D – so let the sun be part of your daily ritual – it’s good for everyone – so let there be light!

Ensure you are surrounded by plants! House plants keep the air in your home clean, which is especially great during times like these, and they also de-stress us. Keep them happy and watered because caring for something living also makes you feel good — and we need all the joyful endorphins we can get right now.

Ahhnee                    Image from iOS (22)

Who let the dogs in?

Working from home is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy more time with man and woman’s best friend. Your beloved pets miss you dearly when you’re off at work — now is your chance to give them extra love without compromising work efficiency — it can be done.

Take those 10 min eye breaks from your screen and go and throw a ball for your doggy, give him a belly rub and a treat. You’ll feel instantly better about yourself and about life, when you give love to your pooch – or your cat, or mouse, or ferret or snake – whatever critter boat your floating. The process of getting up and moving about is also so much better than being sat motionless at your desk all day. Get the blood circulating, engage your metabolism and get outside more often. Mini-computer breaks are a much-needed part of our working day and are seldom made a priority. It’s time to change that.

Feel the beat

It’s finally time to move to your own rhythm! No more headphones (unless the baby is sleeping) and no need to compromise your musical taste for old Ned who listens to Nickelback or Sally thrashing Slayer – come on Sally there is a time and a place.

Whatever music helps you concentrate and get into a better working mindset, then go for it. Perhaps a Ted Talk on the subject you’re researching might just give you the breakthrough insight you were so desperate for – you can listen to whatever you choose in your home office – why not try something new and share your discovery online with colleagues? Build up a communal playlist that you can all add too and dip in and out of it.

Find what music gives you the energy you need and puts you in the right mood and mind frame. It’s amazing how quickly a perspective or mood can be shifted with just the right musical soundtrack to guide you.

It’s Ergonomics baby

When setting up your desk, give some serious consideration to the position of your screen and keyboard. Your neck, back, wrists, eyes and even digestive system will benefit from the time taken to set your workstation up correctly. Not all offices give individual staff the opportunity to individualise their stations for their own bodies and yet we’re all vastly different and would benefit greatly from tailored desk heights, chair options and screen positioning and light settings. If you don’t enjoy bright light but have a dim room – set up a funky lamp in the corner with soft light and instantly feel how soothing it is.

Will you be using a fit ball to sit on instead of a chair? Fit balls or gym balls (whatever you want to call them) are a great way to keep your core engaged and encourage better posture. They are also great for bouncing along to your favourite tunes and staying motivated – or so I’ve heard. Will you opt for the preference of a standing desk instead? Again — standing or switching between sitting and standing, like office interval training is great for your body – AND it doesn’t have to be an expensive option to employ — you can make your own. Google it! Consider your body and your mind when setting up your workspace and they will both thank you.

Stay in touch

It might be nice to finally have some physical distance from team members, but don’t completely fall of the radar. Use the tools of the web to stay in contact with your peers and to collaborate on projects as a team. Our knowledge management users know this is possible with KIQ Cloud, as it allows employers and content administrators to update important documents and procedures and provide continual training. Keep the team spirit up by involving and updating each other with what your doing. Talk about your customer interactions and provide each other with tips and feedback.

Share pictures of those beloved pets we spoke about earlier or keep the office cake frenzy going by starting your own mini-bake off where you vote based on pictures – keep that culture alive.

Get vaping

This isn’t a tip to encourage the smoking of e-cigarettes so don’t freak out. Here we are referring to vaporisers for pure essential oils that can transform your home or workspace (now both) into a zen, immune boosting space and help you reduce stress, anxiety and tension. There are a tonne of memes floating around about Karen and her essential oils but hey — you could learn something from Karen. Karen has seen things and yet she’s calm, collected and extremely chilled.

There are loads of different blends of oils available and ones you can create yourself. Just grab a vaporiser or humidifier that takes oils and burn baby burn. There is also a huge amount of online or text resources about what sort of oils are best for you and the types of conditions they can help with. Don’t rely on coffee to keep you energised all day when there are far healthier ways to get the buzz you crave.

Eat brainfood

I know I’ve just mentioned baking cake as a way of keeping your work and office culture thriving whilst in lock down but remember that cake and treats are all part of a balanced diet.

If you work in the city you’ve probably been spoiled for choice when It comes to lunches but your choices my not have also been the healthiest for your body, or perhaps your wallet. Take this opportunity to prepare and enjoy healthy meals and snacks throughout the day and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is another way to keep this nasty virus at bay so be good to your body and your body will be good to you.

Look up new recipes, support your local fruit and veg market that may be suffering during this time and learn more about nutrition. All these lessons can be brought back to the office upon your return, so get into these healthier habits now. Take notice of your bank balance during the week and see how much you save by avoiding the temptations of take away.

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Photo by:  Pragyan Bezbaruah for Pexels

Family first

This is an additional eighth step and I thought it was important to include it here given the announcements made over the last 24 hours that affect everyone in our communities in one way or another.

Many of you will this week be working from home, perhaps for the first time, and will be doing so with your children at home. I do not have a school age child, but I do have one under two and one in the oven, so I know the pressures including the ones that are less visible.

There will be a plethora of posts from parents offering tips on how to keep children occupied and engaged during this testing time so take what you will from those. What I would offer from the perspective of someone who is quite used to working remotely and isolated is that when your children are in your care and you are working, take the time needed to make sure they know they are important, loved and safe. There’s no worse feeling during these times than the guilt of putting your child second. Keep them entertained as much as you can, however you can within your means, if this means a DVD then don’t beat yourself up about it too much – remember you’re doing this for a reason and that reason is your family.

When your child is screaming for your attention and your affection – stop what you’re doing and give it to them. Go back to your work when your child is settled and give them an opportunity to see what you are doing, to draw and create while you are working. Feeling like they are doing something too will help them feel like a part of all of this.

If you have older children also just consider how they might be feeling. There is a lot of talk about whether to shut schools and how to implement home schooling, but not much about how to address the fear and anxiety that your children may be feeling. Children are attuned to what is happening, and most likely, they are on social media more than you. The information they are getting is fuelled by the hype in the media so try and provide them with information that is from a trustworthy source and as with everything — talk to your kids. If you have a partner at home too — make sure you’re all on the same page and show your supporting each other.

No one has the answers, so do what you feel is best. In the end, instinct wins out, it’s there for a reason. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay positive. Be kind to each other and spread your knowledge as you learn and grow from this experience.

 

Embracing new opportunities and staying positive in the face or crisis, illness and societal or economic unrest isn’t easy – nor is it necessarily the most natural of human reactions. But remember that we are lucky we are living in a time when there is such a thing as the web, technology, wi-fi and NBN. We have science and have amazing healthcare professionals. We have delivery drivers and retail workers, in-home carers and teachers. We have farmers and growers; we have creators and innovators. A lot of you reading will fit into one of these categories and know others that do too. Despite the scary and the crazy behaviour, despite this unprecedented event — this is another obstacle of many to come that we will endure, and we will survive. And we’ll be better! Some of you may even stay at-home workers. Others will join the morning commute again as if nothing had happened. Whatever the case – take this time to be good — in every sense of the word. Be the best at your job, be the best boss or manager or trainee. Have the empathy you’d never quite tapped into but learning to be attune to people, be healthy, be kind. Good luck.

AND WASH YOUR HANDS!

 

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Picture of Elise Kuchel By Elise Kuchel on March 23, 2020