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Deel Team

Working from home adds a massive amount of flexibility to workers’ lives, but it can have its issues. Isolation and the feeling of being confined  between the same four walls both when on and off work can be a burden and have negative effects on productivity and mental health. This is especially true for those of us who live in small homes. 

Recently I’ve been looking for tips and ideas to optimize my very limited working space and figured it might be useful to list some of the most interesting/useful tips here. 

Most tips I found fall into one of the categories listed below, so that’s how I grouped them. 

The core principles are:

  1. Create separation between your workspace and your personal life
  2. Make your workspace work for you
  3. Don’t forget best practices

Create separation

This will help you leave work at work and not carry issues, stress, and preoccupations with you when you log out of your laptop. 

Sometimes the barrier between work and personal life can be as simple as a painted wall or a folding desk.

  1. Take advantage of nooks, alcoves, separating walls, and corners. If your home already has some of these features built-in, turning them into a small but professional space to work can be really easy.
  2. Use color and texture to make your workspace stand out. Colored paint, wallpaper, or paneling can do a lot to help you create a separate space where there might not be one. 
  3. Being able to hide your workspace can be especially useful in very small living environments where dedicating a full room, or even a wall, to work might be a luxury you cannot take advantage of. There are many creative ways you can hide your home office: from setting it up in a closet or cupboard to having a folding desk that can disappear at the end of the work day to setting up a small shelf under a windowsill. 

Make your workspace work for you

Once you have the right location, and a setup that works for you, it’s time to think about how to personalize your home office environment.

  1. The first and most obvious tip is to use plants. The benefits of plants for mental health are well documented and known. Greenery will add some color and personality to your workspace, but it can also become a curtain that divides your work life from your private spaces. If you go for live plants, you will also benefit from watching them grow and change across seasons, but should you lack a green thumb or the time and focus to take care of real plants, artificial ones seem to have similar benefits for mental health as the real deal.
  2. Another important thing to consider is office design. If you thrive in minimalist spaces, make sure you declutter to your heart’s content, or maybe you enjoy having photos of your loved ones and mementos of your travels always next to you. Whatever the case, make sure your workspace reflects your personality and what makes you happy. It will make a big difference in your mood each morning when you sit down for work.

Don’t forget best practices

When finalizing the design of your remote workspace, office decor will only be part of the considerations you should be making. Make sure you follow some best practices that will ensure your mental well-being is always a priority.

  1. Good lighting is crucial to mental well-being, and nothing can substitute natural light. While there are many ways to get creative with spotlights, floor lamps, and so on, make sure to choose a spot with good natural light to work in.
  2. Make sure your home office has access to good ventilation and fresh air. Just as light, the health benefits of good air quality cannot be overstated.
  3. Consider using an ergonomic office chair, your back will thank you. While traditional office chairs can be rather bulky and unsightly in your small home office, there are more compact and design-friendly alternatives. 
  4. If possible, consider going for a standing desk. Spending a full workday in a small space can drain you of energy, no matter how comfortable and relaxing you designed it. Also, sitting for too long can have negative effects on your blood pressure and circulation. A desk that gives you the option to stand can easily solve these issues for you.
  5. Make sure you take breaks. People skip breaks all the time in offices too, but just because a bad habit is widespread doesn’t mean you should take it home with you. Breaks are really important, more so in home office environments, and are even more crucial when living and working in a small home.
  6. Give your work-life balance priority. Even though you carve out a functional space to work in, it will all be for nothing if you don’t learn to set boundaries to your work. This is vital in small home offices, where the inability to disconnect means you will constantly feel the pressure of work on your shoulders.
  7. Go for a walk when possible. The benefits of walking are well known, and just a short walk every day has massive positive effects on your health. In a small home workspace, however, a lunch-break stroll has the added benefit of reconnecting you to the world around you.
  8. Find ways to interact with your colleagues that are not strictly work-related. In a remote work environment, social interactions need to be actively pursued. Make sure you don't self-isolate too much!

Are you part of the small home office community too? Did you already know and apply these tips, or were they news to you?

Are there any other suggestions you have, to make your home office more liveable and pleasant?