When you’re not rocking up daily to a big building with a sign saying ‘The Office,’ one of your biggest spatial boundary definers is gone.
Also gone is a space which was probably built and designed specifically for its purpose, with very different qualities to a domestic space, in terms of decor, acoustics, access, lighting, furnishing, technology, and so on. You probably wouldn’t want to live in an office, so what happens when you find yourself losing all that makes that space what it is, and having to work in your living zone instead?
Naturally enough, your first inclination is to recreate that familiar work environment at home, and in many ways that makes a lot of sense. But pause for one moment first, because there are things to consider from a long way back.
The first is that you may have new constraints. In fact, you almost certainly do – there will be things you used to in a traditional office building that you cannot easily recreate at home, whatever your resources, from the IT support team down the hall to the conference room you used once a month. You’ll have to find ways of making space and resources work for you in new ways, and that requires new thinking.
The second aspect to setting up your workspace, which is easy to overlook, is that you have new opportunities now.
You’re not stuck with the standard suppliers, lighting, colour schemes, and so on. While you might have a budget or resources from your employer which dictate certain things, it’s your home and your space, so you should be able to negotiate considerably more discretion. Without spending lots of money, it’s perfectly possible to carve out space to work in that feels like home, rather than thinking you have to exactly replicate the office within your house.
This is a tiny example, but why would you choose a plastic Ikea or Staples litter bin? Why not chuck your biscuit wrappers in something prettier, which looks like it belongs in a home, rather than an office? Similarly, why not disguise your cabling and chargers behind some attractive plants or upholstery, so your tech looks like it belongs in a living room rather than a server room? Pick out some artwork that inspires you, whether it’s a favourite print, or something your kids created with love, and hang it where you can see it, rather than only thinking about what shows up on your webcam.
Your aesthetic choices are your own, so don’t underestimate their impact on your mood, and don’t think that working from home means creating the office in your home. I believe small personal touches like choosing luxury stationery and desk accessories means they more than earn their keep if they make you feel good while you work. So keep that in mind, as you reflect upon the physical boundaries of your home office.
This is an extract from Finding Your Edge: Establishing And Maintaining Boundaries When You Work From Home, book 2 in the Healthy Happy Homeworking series.