It takes more than a desk and computer to make working from home, well, work. Staying productive (and sane) in any remote office takes a balance of healthy habits, the right equipment, and an environment that’s conducive to getting the job done.

With the work-from-home revolution in full swing, here are some tips to making the most out of the “new” 9-to-5:

  • Find a dedicated space: It may be a basement nook, an unused bedroom, or even a quiet corner. Wherever you decide to set up, take time to make it comfortable and as free from distractions as possible. Granted, finding an extra space may be a challenge, but the important part is having a dedicated place for work that you can distance yourself from at the end of the day. Having such a space will not only bring a sense of consistency to your schedule, but it will help maintain a greater work-life balance.
  • Prioritize comfort: Makeshift offices were the norm at the onset of the pandemic. Now that you’ve had months (or possibly a year) to settle in, however, consider ways to make your space more inviting with ergonomic furniture, custom decor, and good lighting (natural or otherwise). Ultimately, you want your home office to be inviting and good for your wellbeing, rather than a space you dread spending time in.
  • Set habits: It’s tempting to do away with set hours and workday routines, but having some degree of structure is beneficial for your mental health. Assuming your employer hasn’t already, develop a schedule that fits with your current circumstances (e.g., childcare, family commitments, etc.) and stick to it as much as possible. Also, remember to give yourself breaks and take time away from the office when needed. The idea is to establish some consistency but give yourself room to be flexible when needed.
  • Stay social: Working in isolation can take its toll. Look for ways to stay connected with co-workers, family, and friends throughout the day. Ideas can include hosting social video calls, conducting creative online meetings, or sharing texts and online chats with other friends and colleagues working from home. True, some individuals do just fine in isolation, but many miss the sense of community that a communal office provides.
  • Create boundaries: It’s hard to leave work at the office when your office is only a room away. As such, it helps to establish clear boundaries when it comes to when you’re “at work” and “off hours.” Setting boundaries also requires employers to be respectful of their remote workers’ schedules, and to have a greater understanding if tasks take longer to complete due to circumstances outside of their teams’ control.

When it comes to working from home, your mental health comes first. Burning out is a very real risk, but one that can be mitigated with a little structure, work/life boundaries, and an “office” that feels at home.

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