Tips for Creating a Temporary Home Office

  1. If possible, establish a well-defined area of your home for your work space.  If this area needs to be shared with other members of your household, then set a daily schedule of what time each person gets to use that space.   
  2. If household activities might make it harder for you to work from home (e.g., kids running around), then try to find a room in the house that will be quieter. 
  3. If your temporary office will be in a room that serves other purposes (basement or master bedroom), then try to establish some type of visible boundaries to keep the areas somewhat separate.  Filing cabinets, large screens, and bookcases make great room dividers.
  4. Set up your home office in an area of your home that has ample lighting.  A smaller designated area with lots of light is better than a large room that has poor lighting.  
  5. If you are easily distracted, you may want to set up your work area so that doors and windows are in your peripheral view. 
  6. Some people like a view from their desk of pleasing artwork or inspirational posters.  However, if there are too many items for your eyes to be drawn to, this may become too distracting.  Those who aren’t as easily distracted and can refocus easily, may prefer a window view. 
  7. Although you may not want to invest in a new office chair, you may be able to find some type of flat pillow (gel seat) or back support to add comfort to your chair and provide better support.
  8. If this new home office is a temporary arrangement and you want to save money, try using plastic/wooden crates, decorative boxes, baskets, and other storage containers to keep your work papers and supplies organized.   
  9. Add some “homey” types of items to your designated work space to make it a place where you don’t’ mind spending significant amounts of time (fake or real plants and flowers, inspirational plaques, a favorite family photo or two, cherished knickknacks).
  10. If you need more storage space for your work supplies and paperwork, consider going “vertical” by hanging floating shelves on the walls.  File folder holders on a nearby table or credenza can keep important papers within arm’s reach and off of your work station until needed.
  11. If you can afford it, a rolling office filing unit which enables you to move your work files easily from room to room (esp. if you work in different rooms) is worth the minimal cost to keep your work papers organized and close by.   Rolling carts also offer a great way to store office supplies.
  12. Make sure you have ample supplies before you dig into your work tasks including writing utensils, files, phone charger, snacks and beverages.  You want to avoid getting up to retrieve these items especially if you know you are easily distracted and have a hard time getting refocused.
  13. If you have some scented oils around the home, try them out to add a pleasing aroma to your work area (although oils that make you sleepy would not be recommended).
  14. To stem frustrations from slower connections at home, you may need to increase your internet speed, and/or get a better router or Wi-Fi extender, even if you are just working from home on a temporary basis.
  15. If you don’t have any noise cancelling headphones now may be the time to invest in a pair especially if your household can get noisy.  Wireless blue tooth headphones enable you to block out a lot of external noises and walk from room to room if needed.
  16. As tempting as it may be to work in your pajamas, it is recommended that you get ready for your workday as you usually would (although of course you don’t have to get fancy).  If you will be participating in a video conference meeting during your work day you will want to make sure your top half looks appropriate.
  17. Set goals for how long you want to work and include breaks.  Some people work an hour or two and then allow themselves a 20”s break and then repeat the same schedule.   You may want to use your break periods to accomplish small tasks in your home, but set a timer so you get back to work when you are supposed to. 
  18. Post your daily work schedule for family members to see so they will know when it is acceptable to interrupt you. 
  19. Set aside a few minutes at the end of each work day to put your business papers away especially if your office area is in a dual-purpose room. 
  20. If the location you picked in your home for a temporary office doesn’t seem to be working then move to a location where you will be more productive.  You need to have a space to work where you are most productive, enjoy spending time, and are the appropriate distance from the activities going on within your home.