As a precaution sought by many to reduce any risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus during our current pandemic, remote work has become more commonplace than ever before. Thankfully, technology has afforded many of us the ability to complete our work efficiently at home rather than at a crowded office. While this has been beneficial in many ways, such as reducing emissions, saving on gas, and spending less time on a commute, many of us have been posed with the challenge of creating a workspace within our homes that not only provides privacy but also allows for us to remain comfortable for the full 7.5 hours of work a day. Now, with children back to school, whether it be in person or remotely, we may be tasked with creating additional long-term workspaces for the younger members of our family as well. Fortunately, with a bit of creativity, feng shui, and design inspiration, making more permanent workstations within our already furnished, completed homes is still possible. 

 

Declutter

To start this process, a big declutter and purge may be in order. With new priorities looking for space, your old snowshoes from 1995 that have been collecting dust for years might be better off in a new home. The idea here is to get rid of things taking up any larger areas that you really do not need anymore – so feel free to skip past your Tupperware drawer and move onto any bulkier items such as quilt racks, coffee tables, or bookshelves that are taking up more floor space. 

 

Be creative with your space

It is fair to say that most of us failed to incorporate the possible pandemic or remote learning and working accommodations when we set out to buy a house – but seriously, who could have predicted this? The truth is, finding this space might now be your reality and buying a home to accommodate it may not be an option right now. So, making do with what you have is key. Now is the time to be creative with your space and redesign your home to incorporate new workstations. 

If you need bright space to be inspired and productive, see if you can make a home office in your brightest room. If this happens to be your living room, try moving your entertainment centre to the basement, or removing some furniture to create more space. 

If your kitchen is the best place to set up shop, look into finding an expandable table, or incorporating nearby storage so that you can easily pack away your office and continue to sit together for family meals once the workday is complete. 

Bedrooms can also be host to an at-home office, just be sure to make it is private as possible when considering any camera angles for zoom or google classroom meetings. Utilizing a privacy divider to accomplish this may be your best option, depending on the space you have available. 

If multiple people are working and learning at home, consider clearing out one room to make it into one large office/classroom. 

 

Consider Privacy at Home

If you are working from home and supervising a remote learner, you may want to be working in closer proximity to your student in order to help them with any technical issues or to provide them with cues and encouragement if they begin losing concentration. While this is a great backup for your child to help ensure they are on track, it may come at the expense of your own privacy during the workday. While most people are understanding when they see or hear children participating in online learning during work meetings, you may want to eliminate the distraction by finding a secondary location for any meetings or work that require your undivided attention. For those who work with sensitive information, having locked cabinets and screen shields to prevent those from viewing your work at specific angles may also be necessary. 

 

Think Ergonomics

No matter where you’re working, ergonomics is important for your overall health and wellness, no matter your age. Make sure to take frequent breaks to move around – an adjustable sit-to-stand desk is an excellent way to change up your position throughout the day! Also, keep your posture in mind and sit with your back and legs at a 90-degree angle. Adjust your monitor to eye level, keep your eyes centre to the screen, and ensure your feet touch the ground to maintain your good posture. Children may require a stool to rest their feet on if their chair is too high. This year will be requiring much more sitting and screen-time for many of us, making it all the more important to be mindful of our bodies and to get out, move around and enjoy the fresh air. 

Whether you are the only remote worker in your home, or if you have a houseful of workers and learners seeking space, by thinking outside the box you are sure to come up with solutions for everyone. However, if design is not in your skill set, consider hiring an interior designer and get their take on how to make it work. This reality of at-home work and school seems to becoming a more long-term solution than we anticipated, so utilizing these tips and tricks, ensuring you have ample working space and being mindful of ergonomic issues will continue to be important for the overall health and wellness of our families throughout the next year, or until things resume to a previous version of “normal”.