Laura Bielecki, senior manager – Interior Design at Ellington Properties, offers tips on effective remote working

Set up your workspace:

  • Not having a well-equipped home office space when people begin remote working can cause a temporary decrease in productivity.
  • Divide your living space into more distinct zones; an office requires a dedicated space, even if it’s only a desk. Avoid using the dining table by day as an office workspace.
  • By creating a dedicated workspace, you will be able to divide personal time from “office” time and find more semblance of weekends, family time.
  • Do not feel the urge to work every waking hour. This will also give a visual cue to your cohabitants that you are in “work-mode”.
  • Place your desk in a comfortable space within your home. Ideally near a window where you can catch a bit of sunlight and see the passing of time.
  • If you have happy houseplants or fresh cut flowers arrange them within view of your desktop/laptop. The liveliness, greenery and fresh scent will keep you going.
  • If you have a good quality office desk chair you are already ahead of most working from home.
  • An ergonomic chair will assist you in getting through long hours without back pain, numb legs or other workplace injuries. Many stores are still delivering if you need to purchase office furniture. Alternatively, check if your company can lend you a chair.
  • As an option, use pillows for below your bottom or your lower back, and a box or books on the floor to get your feet in the right position.
  • A task lamp is a must for achieving optimal working conditions, especially in a home environment. Find a floor or table lamp from somewhere in your home and adapt it to your work scenario. Ideally you want one where you cannot see the light directly in your eyes and is dimmable. There are great options on the market now for dimmable and colour tunable app-based bulbs which can easily turn the mood of any space into ideal conditions for the task at hand.
  • If you have a pinboard, magnet board or even just blank wall space next to your desk, it would be an ideal place to recreate some of your real office space.
  • Pin up schedules, phone numbers, notes etc. along with inspiration and photos of colleagues or office moments. This will keep you quick and tuned in.
  • Stack some books and magazines that you have been meaning to read. Now is the perfect time when you are uninspired or lacking motivation to pick them up and digest new ideas, content and industry learning.
  • Have a blazer on the back of your chair or hanging on the wall next to your space. If you need to pop into a quick web meeting, you can quickly look professional without too much hassle.
  • Think carefully about what is behind you. Will your kids or spouse sneak up on you? Is the background clean and conducive to Zoom/TEAMS meetings? Consider placing your workspace where you have a wall or screen behind you. Possibly a nice bookshelf, art wall, plants etc. Creating a vignette for your calls makes you look professional from home and shows off your style, organisation and status.

Laura Bielecki, Ellington Properties

Make a routine:

  • First thing in the morning clean and disinfect your workspace. Make sure your phone, keyboard, mouse, desk, chair arms are all clean and ready for the day.
  • Put on some background music, get the room temperature/humidity just the way you like it.
  • Make yourself a serving platter with all the great inspiring and energising items that will get you through your morning. A great coffee or tea in your favourite mug. Have a bowl of a few healthy snacks like almonds, cut fruits or veg nearby. Make yourself a large pitcher of water, consider adding fruits to make it exciting with a glass to refill.
  • Make a list of what you would like to achieve for the day in order of priority. Tackle the hardest, most tedious or items you want to do least first, so you get them out of the way.
  • Make sure you check in with your team and boss daily to ensure the flow of information, expected tasks and deadlines is all understood.
  • Make sure to get up from your chair often, stretch, grab a coffee, check in with your family/friends etc.
    Choose a certain day or hour for extracurricular learning. This could be in the form of web tutorials, live learning sessions, team brainstorms and so on within your field. Make it a habit. It’s the perfect time to expand your knowledge, new ways of doing things and what other industry professionals have been up to.
  • Find your best time to do fitness. For most, doing a quick 30-minute workout before you start work is the equivalent of a good jolt of caffeine. It will open up your mind, get you focused and feeling fresh. Make it part of your daily routine.

Working from home gives you greater flexibility in “office hours” where you can take breaks or work early/late when needed with all your stuff on hand. You don’t have to worry about the commute time – traffic, parking, weather etc. A home office can allow for far less distraction.