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July 16, 2020

Working From Home Tips: Creating the Optimal Home Office and Successfully Working Remotely

Parent/child work area by Glenn Gissler

Working From Home tips are more useful than ever, as working from home has become a normal part of business for millions of people across industries. No list of tips is custom-made for everyone, but there is almost always something valuable to glean to improve your own situation.

Below are selected tips for creating an optimal home office space from three of the design industry’s luminaries: Barry Goralnick, Glenn Gissler, and Cochineal Design’s Sarah Mendel.

Once you’re set up at home, the next list of tips for successfully working remotely may come in handy. It’s sound advice for everyone from LandIt, a career-pathing platform with the core objective of increasing the success of women and diverse groups in the workplace.

Tips for Creating the Optimal Home Office

Keep it Simple

Barry Goralnick advises, “Don’t complicate your needs.” Set up a simple workstation. These desks are made of simple elements that are attractive and functional – the most basic Parsons desk and a Mid-century or modified office chair.

Left: Desk–West Elm; Hopper Desk Lamp–Currey & Co.; Chair–Chairsh; Right: Desk–CB2

Don’t Hit a Wall

Goralnick points out that one of the most common missteps people make when creating a workspace is facing the desk chair into a wall. He recommends, if possible, face your desk into a window or into the room. By doing so, it provides a sense of openness and makes a small space feel much larger. This interior window from the home office looks out into the main room, allowing for views of the outside.

Ask Yourself, Do You Really Need a Desk?

Think about what you need to do your best work. Goralnick finds not everyone needs a formal desk. Here, a writer who does not need a traditional desk uses a small dining table coupled with a traditional style office chair for the perfect workspace. This intimate office/library multi-functions as a guest area with sleep sofa.

Make Your Space Multitask

Glenn Gissler encourages everyone to think differently about their existing surroundings and how they might function. In this project, a dining room and library now multitasks as a home office. One end of the dining table serves as home office, while the other end still makes a nice setting for meals.

Make Room In Any Room

When creating a work-from-home space, a separate room is not a must-have to establish a successful workspace. Sometimes a “corner office” does the trick. Gissler designed a Brooklyn Heights brownstone with a home office set up in a living room corner. A well-designed table and chairs help this “corner office” blend into the overall living room design with panache. Simply putting away small work accessories and closing or stowing a computer can close the office – mentally and aesthetically. That way, when the room is used for entertaining, reading, or binge watching, the work-like function of the home office does not intrude.

Mid-century desk–Jules Leleu; leather-wrapped chairs–Jacques Adnet

Make Every Square Inch Count

In Cochineal’s Half Townhouse project, every inch of space was prime real estate. Here, Sarah Mendel saw an opportunity to create workspace and storage solutions in a hallway. Putting amenities in the walk-though area transformed it from a room connecter to something with more purpose and personality. Paneled walls help to define the space and create a cozy, working moment.

Millwork-paneled walls: HenryBuilt; Table lamp: RH Modern

Give Yourself a Break (Area)

Make somewhere your break room or area — your no-work zone when you’re working from home. It can be a drag to sit at your dining room table all day. At the office, you might take a coffee break to stretch your legs. Mendel points out, “at home, it’s important to remember to allow yourself some intentional pauses during the day.” No matter how much space you have, dedicate a comfy chair for 15-minute breathers.

Chair: Vintage Gigi Radice

Tips for Successfully Working Remotely

Below is a condensed write-up originally from Landit, laying out effective, sensible principles for successfully working remotely.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Hopefully, the design professional tips above have helped you to set up a WFH space that works for you. Landit also recommends:

  • Gather what you need (supplies)
  • Ideally, set up somewhere you can “leave” at the end of the day

Maintain Focus and Productivity

Track your accomplishments and your use of time.

  • Track your accomplishments
  • Prioritize
    • Important/Urgent = Priority List 1
    • Important/Not Urgent = Priority List 2
    • Unimportant/Urgent = Delegate
    • Unimportant/Not Urgent = Eliminate

Time Boxing: Dedicate time periods to work on a task or group of tasks, instead of working on one task until it’s complete.

Dress for Work

It’s not hard to do – dress for work.

  • Stay professional – be prepared to be on video
  • Change your clothes after work

Get Outside and Breathe Fresh Air

Taking a breath while safely socially distancing can do a world if good.

  • Promotes better decision making and cognitive abilities
  • Getting outside generates more joy
  • When you can, open a window or turn on fan to increase airflow
  • Good ventilation promotes physical health and work output

Take Care of Yourself

Be sure to take care of all facets of yourself. Asking yourself the below questions provides a good assessment. Check in on yourself frequently.

  • Physical: Are you getting adequate sleep? Is your diet fueling your body well? Are you getting enough exercise?
  • Social: Are you spending “live” (video conferencing) time with friends? Get creative on how to stay connected & nurture relationships – e.g. virtual book club, FitBit challenge.
  • Mental: Are you devoting time for activities to mentally stimulate you? Be proactive about staying mentally healthy.
  • Emotional: What are some healthy ways to process your emotions? What activities can help you feel recharged?
  • Spiritual: Are you engaging in spiritual practices you find fulfilling? What other ways can I be supporting my well-being?

Ask for Help

Ask for help if you need it. Now is not the time to go it alone. Leverage your personal board of advisors or even access a Landit coach – you can sign up for free.

Using and adapting tips from professionals like Goralnick Architecture Design Studio, Glenn Gissler Design, and Cochineal Design can help you optimize your home office. And once you’re set up, following advice like Landit’s can help you be at your best as you work from home.