by Chris Hayes
March 28, 2020
Yeah, we've all seen a million pictures of work from home perfection. The scene is always set with a steaming mug of coffee, a laptop that isn't full of crumbs, suspiciously well-organized files, and a blanket that looks too cozy to be true. The reality? That's up to you. Whether you're in the picture-perfect space or you're just living your best life, there's a million ways to make remote work, well… work.
Sometimes things get a bit more complicated. Your remote work oasis might be a shared paradise with another loved one, a kiddo, or a roommate that's trying to do their own thing at the same time as you. So how do you manage a space that's not just doing double-duty as work and play, but one that's also trying to make everybody happy?
They may not be your coworker, but now you're co-working together. Whether it's a short-term situation or a longer-term solution, you and a partner (or perhaps a roommate?) might be sharing the same space during working hours. Cobbling together a two-person workstation is a surprisingly scalable concept. From teeny tiny downtown apartments to ample real estate with a dedicated home office, the need for cohesive and thoughtful design stays put even when size changes.
Take a cue from trends in corporate offices. What they call "benching" is simply creating side-by-side workstations that have everything a person needs to do their best work in a small, streamlined area. In larger companies, employees aren't one-size-fits-all, so these workspaces have to have flexible accessories that can suit all working styles.
Setting up a homey two-person workstation works just like it does in the big leagues. Rely on beautiful desks and storage pieces that work within your interior design scheme and, from there, use coordinating accessories to build out the user's unique needs. Maybe one of you needs a sprawling three-monitor setup while the other needs a whole lot of desktop file storage; whatever it is, if you start with the same bones, the rest of the add-ons will look seamless.
School is supposed to prepare kids for the "real world," whatever that is, but sometimes reality is a little sneakier. Whether you're a full-time homeschool teacher or you're shifting classroom learning into the household,
it's clear that kids' learning needs can benefit from the same solutions that make your workday a success. Set up an area where they can thrive at a dedicated workspace that supports their educational needs.
Studies have shown that young learners and adults alike can benefit from active, movable seating. Incorporating movement into learning (or working) hours can prevent fidgeting while allowing the student to find a posture that works with what their body and posture craves. Use a wobbling ottoman for low-to-the-ground seating that provides gentle r
ocking motions without running the risk of slipping or falling off. And when you're done, store school supplies beneath the lid to keep your satellite school clean.
Working from home when you're on your own can already be… weird. We've always recommended that you design your day and stick to a schedule, but this becomes harder once you have two, three, or more schedules all operating in the same household.
Independently, think about your duties and tasks and how well each of them can be done around other people. Responding to emails or working on basic tasks can be done in a room of many but does your quarantine buddy really want to hear every one of your conference calls?
This particularly applies to small spaces without a lot of room to spread out. Let one another know what your day looks like, what hours you'll be using your shared spaces, and any other fine details that might help give a better understanding of what you're both up against. Most importantly, let one another know when you have important calls or video chats that require a bit of privacy and a lot of peace.
Staying on the same page as your family or your housemates can stop unnecessary feuds or animosity from growing while you're sharing the same space, especially if you're not typically working from home at the same time. It's always better to over-communicate and over-prepare than it is to be caught off-guard, right?
If you're a full-time remote employee and the world is your workspace? By all means, go wild with your home office space and fill it to the gills with what you need to thrive. If working from home is a temporary situation or a once-in-a-while happenstance? Let's see what else your workspace can do to keep you and yours on-track.
Think about what else that area can be used for in the off hours. After outfitting your workspace with the tools of the trade, think about what else you're up to that could benefit from a space that's already optimized for focus. Sometimes there's just a few add-ons that might make it easier to make a mixed-use space, such as a separate storage container for art supplies or racking for audio equipment to set up an in-home studio. This might just be a motivator to pick up a new hobby or get back to something that fell off along the way.
Even when you're spending your whole day working from home, you still need to come home from work. Remember that the people you're sharing your at-home workday with are still the same people you're spending the other meaningful moments around. Just because you're working together doesn't mean that now all you can do is work, work, work, work, work.
Especially if this is just a temporary period and not a permanent shift, you might not anticipate what changes can come when you're in the same space for entire days on end. At the end of the workday, you would usually leave the office and let your work alone until the next day; this sense of routine can get lost when the drive to work is right in the next room. If the work and play start to blur together too much, schedule immovable activities or mealtimes to make sure that you have the time to recharge and enjoy yourself outside of your job.
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