Three years ago today, Boris Johnson instructed a fearful nation to stay at home, and the first COVID-19 lockdown began. When history books divide the 21st century into pre- and post-lockdown eras, the last three years will represent a watershed for millions of working-age people. Many jobs have been transformed by the Covid-19 outbreak, and entire industries may never be the same. Yet an even more seismic shock to the jobs market came from the need to socially distance – requiring millions of people to work from home for the first time.
For the many, not the few
Working from home used to be the preserve of the self-employed, and a few select professions like freelance writers. I started freelancing at home in 2005, organised a dedicated home office in 2009 and became a full-time freelance copywriter in 2010. Meanwhile, millions of people continued to unthinkingly endure ten rush-hour commutes a week, so they could sit in an office and email people at adjacent desks. And while some staff relished the office banter and impromptu brainstorming sessions, many quietly resented the compromises of communal workplaces – toilet queues, endless gossip, other people’s pungent lunches and blaring radios…
Working from home brings compromises of its own. These include a lack of social interaction and blurred boundaries between your work life and private life. However, these drawbacks can be mitigated or even eliminated through an optimal workstation setup. Creating the ultimate home office could improve your mood, your productivity and even your attitude to Monday mornings. It also reduces your reliance on expensive and unreliable public transport. Plus, it removes the need to spend time in office buildings which are increasingly viewed as air-conditioned petri dishes.
These ten components should help you to create the ultimate home office:
- Defensible space. We’ve borrowed an architectural term to define a workspace with minimal household clutter or background noise – ideally a dedicated room with a door you can shut.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. If you can’t isolate yourself from ambient noise, a pair of these headphones will enable you to concentrate by subduing wider household noise.
- A proper desk. Balancing a laptop on a dining table doesn’t work, in any sense. Buy a solid desk with storage, plus an ergonomic office chair with adjustable arms and lumbar support.
- A bookcase. It’s amazing how much paperwork you accumulate working from home. Plus, many of us require easy access to reference books, dictionaries and industry publications.
- A high-end laptop. This setup combines desktop practicality and laptop portability. It enables you to run your laptop through full-sized monitors and keyboards while charging its battery.
- Peripherals. Every home office needs a printer and scanner, but many roles require specific tools like graphics tablets. Compromising on practicality to save money is a false economy.
- A landline. Chances are your house phone isn’t used much, but it’s more professional for phone interviews and dial-in meetings than crackly mobiles which occasionally drop calls.
- Full spectrum lighting. The crisp white light provided by full spectrum lamps makes reading very easy. It also generates serotonin in winter, minimising Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Adjustable blinds. Unless your office is north-facing and several storeys up, you may need to adjust blinds during the day for privacy/sunlight/a view. Vertical blinds are best for this.
- A good backdrop. Project a positive image in the background of virtual meetings and video calls. Paintings and bookcases lend an air of professionalism; clutter and clothes rails don’t.
I spent years developing my ultimate home office, making gradual refinements to achieve an optimal balance between productivity, practicality and presentation. If you’d like to call on the services of a freelance copywriting agency, run with absolute professionalism from a dedicated home office, get in touch with G75 Media. We can offer assistance with freelance copywriting, journalism or editorial projects.