Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, more people are working from home than ever before, and some Bay Area companies have asked their employees to telecommute for months to come. At the same time, most of the region’s school districts are holding classes online. Suddenly, the must-have feature of every home is a well-organized home office or classroom. Creating a space that allows for complete concentration takes some planning, but it can be a key factor to success for both employees and students.
Step 1: Establish Your Work or Learning Station
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room for a home office, you’re already set. Many telecommuters need to creatively carve out an office area from part of a bedroom or living room. Organizing a “multipurpose” room may be tricky, but home organization professionals can help you find a solution that’s both practical and attractive. In this video, consumer advocate Chris Bjorklund recommends using as much surface area as possible for your desk (a corner desk would be a great solution) and placing cabinets overhead to better utilize a smaller space.
For kids learning from home, parents may choose to establish zones for each child at the dining room table. Be sure to keep these learning areas free of distractions like toys, games or digital devices. Similarly, if you’re setting up a desk in your child’s bedroom, be sure to face it away from any items that would tempt the student to go off task.
Step 2: Meet Your Tech Requirements
At the same time that we’re plugging in more computers, printers, modems and laptops, the region is also experiencing occasional blackouts due to wildfires and heat waves. If the wiring in your home is older, consult with an electrician to make sure your home can handle the required electrical load and take steps to protect against power surges.
You and your kids are probably streaming more data through the internet (Zoom classes, video conference calls, transferring files), so you’ll need to make sure there’s adequate internet bandwidth. Working from home usually requires a VPN connection to link up with the rest of your office, which may slow down your connection speed in certain circumstances. Contact your internet service provider or office IT staff to address any concerns.
Step 3: Get Rid of Distractions
The biggest downsides of working or studying from home are the constant distractions. Clear away any toys, books or snacks that could prove too tempting during an online class. Stay on-task by isolating yourself from outside noises. To block out distracting sounds from neighbors, traffic, barking dogs or the other people in your home, try using noise-canceling headphones. If headphones are impractical or you need a deeper level of soundproofing, consider upgrading your home’s insulation or getting new windows. As many of us will be working or studying from home for the foreseeable future, these updates will be worth the investment.
Step 4: Secure Your Home Office
There are two types of security you need to think about with your home office: security for the physical space and security for your data. Start by putting high-quality locks on your office door and any filing cabinets that contain sensitive information. Depending on your office’s size and the nature of your work, it may be wise to set up an alarm system. You also need to take steps to keep your data secure. Find a trusted antivirus software and routinely back up your computer. Experts agree that using both a physical backup (such as a USB key) and cloud-based storage is best. In a worst-case scenario like physical damage to your computer, there are companies that specialize in data recovery.
Step 5: Add Your Personal Touches
The home office is likely here to stay. With this in mind, workers and students should create spaces that fit their style and needs. Designing and decorating a new office or study space can be as large or small a project as you wish. Even small changes can completely transform a space. Painting a single wall, putting up shelves, hanging new window blinds or replacing the carpet can make a room feel refreshed. Diamond Certified painters, designers and handymen can help you create a space where you’ll be excited to work or study.