How to refresh your home office space as return-to-work plans stall

Personal finance

Heading into 2022, many workers are ready for a change.

But you don’t have to join the “Great Resignation” and quit to shake things up. You may be able to give your old job a new look with a few small tweaks.

As return-to-office plans are pushed back once again with the rise of the omicron variant, employees may find themselves working from home longer than anticipated, some even permanently, as more and more companies roll out hybrid working arrangements, according to Drew McCaskill, a career expert at LinkedIn.

According to LinkedIn’s survey of more than 2,000 working Americans, almost one-quarter, or 23%, of the workforce is remote and 13% are in a hybrid arrangement.

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To ward off burnout as another year of telecommuting begins, here are a few tips to refresh your space and your outlook:

Carve out a quiet corner

Even after almost two years of working from home, you may still be making do at the dining room table, which can make it harder to avoid distractions, particularly if you’re sharing space with a roommate, significant other or children.   

“We’ve been thrown into this, and a lot of us never got around to setting up an actual, comfortable workstation,” said Sabrina Allen, the owner of Dash Safety Solutions, which provides ergonomic assessments.

Allen advises clients to create a dedicated office area near a window, if possible. “Natural sunlight is important and good for your productivity.”

Interior designer Jonathan Rachman recommends giving a quiet corner a fresh coat of paint to differentiate it from the rest of your living area. “Paint is something that’s not expensive and you can adapt and change when you want to,” he said.

Opt for a high-gloss finish to give your area some added style, he said. “It is so chic.”

Invest in a good chair

What you sit on is just as important as where you are sitting and can also impact how productive you are during the day, as well as how you present yourself on screen, McCaskill said.

To that end, a good office chair will go a long way toward helping you stay comfortable and engaged. But it doesn’t have to look corporate, according to Rachman. “It could be an antique or vintage piece.”

Reupholster a dining chair and add a decorative pillow, he advised. “I love finding one-of-a-kind items and making it your own.”

Upgrade your desk setup

Even those who already have a dedicated workspace might want to improve their set up. After all this time, “their makeshift office space could likely use an upgrade,” McCaskill said.

Now is the time to invest in a few key essentials, such as a file cabinet to keep clutter at bay or a laptop stand, which raises the height of your screen and can help you and your coworkers see eye to eye over Zoom.

Let in the light

When it comes to video calls, lighting is key. “Facing a window for some indirect natural light is a great option, or you can purchase a ring light if you want to take it to the next level,” McCaskill said.

Otherwise, layer a desk lamp, sconces and task lighting, Rachman suggested. “Find a beautiful light and add a clip-on task light, there are tons of options that are super attractive.”

Add a personal touch

While your home office may have been purely functional until now, adding a few personal touches will make a big difference if you’ll be working from home longer-term, McCaskill said.

Hanging art or wallpaper can provide a much-needed boost, Rachman said, “it doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive.” Rachman also recommends a fabric covered bulletin board or a big mirror to warm up your space.

Even adding a family photo, a candle and a small plant can make your daily grind more enjoyable.

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