For many of us, remote work is here to stay. Although the dust is beginning to settle and some businesses are operating as they had before, it seems the option to work from home is likely to linger long after the nearing end of the coronavirus pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, CNBC surveyed leaders across numerous industries and found the consensus to be that returning to the office would likely be gradual and flexible. Here we are a year later, and remote work is anything but uncommon.
All things considered, it might be time to make your at-home office space a bit more permanent. For people in apartments lacking an extra room or den space, this is likely to pose a bit of a challenge. However, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to design a workspace optimized for productivity that suits your own preferences!
With that in mind, here are a few tips for carving out a dedicated workspace in your apartment.
Finance the Project
Creating an apartment workspace doesn’t have to be particularly expensive. Nevertheless, it is helpful to finance the project ahead of time, so that you can set a budget and be less hesitant to pay for a few impactful upgrades. One simple option is to make cuts in your day-to-day spending and establish savings. If you’re in a bit of a rush and looking to create your home office quickly, a small loan is also a viable option.
The first type of loan that jumps to mind could be a home equity loan, simply because “home” is in the name. However, this isn’t likely for a rental property (given that it involves putting up home equity in exchange for receiving the money upfront). A personal loan, however, can be a handier option. In explaining the difference, Marcus bank points out that personal loans can be obtained quickly and are meant to be used for a variety of things, including home renovation. Availability will depend on your credit rating, but it’s likely to obtain a small sum with which to set up your home workspace.
Create the Room
If you’re in a smaller apartment that doesn’t have a spare room or designated office space, one of your first steps might be to literally create a space. While it’s certainly possible to work in open spaces, such as your living area or bedroom, it’s generally not advisable. The best functioning home offices tend to be physically separated from the “home” environment.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to set aside a given area, even in a smaller apartment. The Spruce has some wonderful suggestions for how to do this, and while they focused mostly on the idea of segmenting off bedrooms, a lot of the tips will work just as well for establishing a distinct workspace in your apartment. Recommendations such as using a “bespoke room divider,” installing a sliding door, or even using divider curtains will help to establish a physically separated home office.
Prioritize Natural Light
When you go about choosing your workspace, or segmenting it off if necessary, prioritize natural light to whatever extent you can. In addition to being a general mood booster, it’s a means of feeling less like you’re stuck in a cubicle-type environment. Lots of people find that they have more energy for work if they’re able to enjoy some natural light. If this isn’t an option though, consider investing in some adjustable lighting. Whether that means workspace lamps or smart light bulbs is up to you, but the ability to brighten and dim the space as you like can help make your apartment office as comfortable as possible.
Who says an office space shouldn’t be beautifully decorated? In fact, one could argue that the main problem with standard office spaces is that they’re usually too devoid of inspiring decoration. We’re not saying you’ll need gaudy paintings or desktop sculptures to make a workspace appealing, but rather that you should be intentional about the look and feel you create in your space. From furniture to trinkets, every component of a small workspace has direct impact on the atmosphere.
For tips and tricks on organizing the space, prioritizing decorations, and even customizing pieces, refer back to the ‘5 Apartment Decorating Tools We Love’. We don’t make any specific recommendations for decor (other than to include some plants, which relieve stress!), because interior design is about self-expression and personal taste. We simply believe that you should want to spend time in your workspace and that enjoying the ambiance you create there helps to do so.
The final tip is simple; get rid of distractions. Depending on how you have your apartment arranged and what distracts you, this could mean anything from snacks and TV to a growing stack of puzzles. Just remember, the point of a home office is to have an environment for work, separate from your home life, that allows you to be focused and productive. Having too many distractions on hand can encourage you to take too many breaks, (turns out, there is such a thing) which in turn detracts from the idea that it’s a dedicated working environment at all.
We hope these tips will help you create the ideal apartment office and stay ready to work from home — however long it lasts!
Written especially for Smart City, by Ashley Stevens
featured image sourced through Unsplash