Advancements in mobile technology have made it easier than ever for people to ditch the office and work from home. From remote work opportunities to freelance opportunities to online businesses, more and more people are choosing to spend each day commuting just a few feet to work rather than several miles.
Remote Work is Not Without Drawbacks
While studies have found that remote workers tend to be happier, healthier and more productive on the whole, they also experience one major drawback.
Creating work-life balance can be difficult enough when you actually leave your home to go and work in a different location but that challenge may only increase exponentially when you literally work and live in the same place.
Creating a dedicated workspace is critical for both maximum productivity and achieving any type of work-life balance but that can be difficult to achieve when you live in a small space.
Condo dwellers, in particular, may find it problematic to create a dedicated workspace when they may have less living space for work in the first place. Difficult is not impossible, however. Here are four tips on how to fit a home office in a condo.
1. Think Multi-Purpose
While you may have an extra room in your condo to turn into an office, chances are good you may also occasionally want to use that room for other purposes too.
There is no reason you can’t do that. If you want to have an office that also doubles as a guest room, consider installing a Murphy bed that will fold right up into the wall when you want to use the space as an office, a day bed with a trundle unit or even a loft bed with a desk underneath. The same is true if you want to turn a basement into an office but still keep the space available for entertaining or use it as a media room.
If you don't have an entire spare room or space to turn into a complete office, there are still plenty of ways to create separation between your home and work life. You can turn a closet into an office, install a floating desk that you can close up when you are not working or even install an entire wall unit in your bedroom.
2. Create Separation and Eliminate Distractions
If you’re lucky enough to have a completely separate room of your home for an office, then closing away your office for the day may involve nothing more than just closing a door.
If you don't, however, it is still important to do your best to quite literally pack your work away for the day.
Creating separation between your work and personal life is critical, but it becomes even harder when your personal space and your workspace are one and the same.
If you turn a closet into a desk or office, close the doors at the end of the day or hang curtains you can shut away from the sight of your workspace. Even a simple folding screen or room divider can be used to close off your workspace out of sight. While out of sight may not automatically guarantee your work will be out of mind, it definitely helps.
Dealing with noise can be a bit trickier if you can’t get a room and some good noise isolation for your office, but there are plenty of tricks on how to drown out loud neighbors or busy streets. If you’re looking at a busy street that gets you distracted easily, think about using a window film that is going to blur out the view and give you privacy. Or, if you can, you can put a plant, two or three in front of the window, creating a pleasant sight that won’t be as distracting. For neighbors or busy street noises, you can always go for noise-canceling headphones, or in case you can’t afford to be oblivious of all the noises around you, use white noise apps and play them via speakers.
3. Take Some Tips From the Pros
If you only ever use your home office to pay a few bills or check your email on occasion, you might be able to get away with a simple stool, straight-backed chair or a small desk facing a wall.
If you are actually going to be using your workspace to do several hours of work every day, then you need to pay more attention to good office design. Lighting, in particular, can have a serious impact on productivity, so you'll want to try and take advantage of natural light if at all possible. If you have a window that overlooks a scenic natural vista or even just trees or a garden, research shows that even just looking at nature can help reduce stress levels. Sitting or working on a computer for several hours can actually take a severe toll on your body, so you definitely want to take ergonomic design into consideration. Your body will thank you.
4. Organize Everything
While everyone will have different tolerance levels for clutter, there is no doubt that we all have a certain threshold beyond which clutter begins to affect us. This also doesn't mean you need to keep everything in your home, either. If your work involves keeping masses of paper files, consider keeping your filing cabinets in the garage or in an outdoor storage unit on a back patio. Even your walls can offer more space than you might think for tidiness and organization, so don't think you have to invest in a lot of office furniture or devote a large space to keeping your office area neat, clean and tidy.
Another benefit of mobile technology is that it has largely done away with the need for masses of bulky office equipment. Who needs a scanner when you can simply snap a pic with your phone and who needs a printer when you can simply sign documents on a tablet and send them digitally.
To Be Productive, You Have to Be Creative
With a little creativity and ingenuity, the smallest of condos can become a fabulous workspace that will bring out your most creative energies and help you be your most productive self.
The best part about designing your own home office is that you have free rein to tailor every aspect of your workspace to your own personal style. From choosing a desk that is exactly the right height, size, and shape to creating your own corner office with natural light and a spectacular view, the sky is the limit with what you can do with even the smallest of condos.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters