According to a State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs, there are 3.9 million Americans (2.9% of the total U.S. workforce) who work from home at least half the time. That number is bound to rise, especially in the short term due to coronavirus. It remains to be seen if the virus is a catalyst for long-term change.
It is reported that working remotely can increase productivity, drive efficiency, lower stress and boost morale. How are almost 4 million people finding space at home to work in harmony with their personal lives?
We asked a few top organizing professionals to share their insights in to some of the challenges, solutions and hacks to creating the perfect home office space.
Create a Work Space Away From Daily Commotion
Jen Robin of Life in Jeneral notes that it is important to create a workspace that is away from the daily commotion and have an area where all items can be kept in one place. “We recommend separating all personal and business-related paperwork/information and creating a space for each,” she says. “If they need to be in the same general area, create a drawer or specific shelf designated for personal bills and items. Paper files can cause a lot of clutter and take up a lot of space. If you can, create digital files per action and shred any physical documents that can be tossed.
Create a List and Designate a Bag
If you split time at home and the office, it is important to stay organized. “Make a quick list of items that you will be bringing home [from the office] to make sure you do not forget to bring anything going back and forth,” says Robin. “Also, using a briefcase or backpack to store all items instead of carrying in your hands will eliminate the risk of forgetting or losing items.
Categorize and Contain
Robin says to categorize all like items together (desk items, pens/pencils, tape) and (electronics, paperwork, mailing/packaging) and give everything a specific home. “This will eliminate time spent trying to find things and will make for a more efficient and peaceful space,” she says. She cautions that before buying any product for the space, go through all the items first (toss or donate anything that is no longer needed), measure the space (drawer, shelf, etc.) then purchase a product based on your needs. Robin adds that labels are a great addition to upkeep a space and to know where things belong.
Let the Family Know You're Working
Organizer Sarah Karakaian of NESTR thinks communication is a key ingredient in keeping focused on your work at home. “Put a sign on your door or your door handle that lets the rest of your family know it's time for you to focus and get to work,” she recommends. “You can also create a work calendar that your family has access to on Google or whatever app you choose. This way they can see if you're available or if you're hard at work,” she says.
Keep the Work Flowing
For efficiency, Karakaian loves having “In,” “Out,” and “Active” file pockets that mount on the wall or sit on her desk. She recommends opting for the wall-mounted one if you're short on desk space. “Anything visual you can give yourself is helpful. Additionally, time block space in your calendar to tackle the inbox, outbox and active box so that your workflow is continuous,” she recommends.
Organizer Stephanie Katz of Simply Less is More shares these tips to get organized:
- Start by completely clearing off any of those unorganized surfaces.
- Purge all unnecessary and duplicate items (even the paperweight your thirty-six-year-old child made for you 32 years ago.)
- Sort all remaining items into categories.
- Create a “home” or specific space for each category and item.
- Label, label and label some more. It is easy to forget where you may have put things, and it’s really helpful to others who will use the space as well.
Is there hope for creative people to get organized? “Absolutely! Creatives just need inspiration and they too can have an organized, creative and fun space,” Katz says. “These are without a doubt my favorite spaces to work on. Everyone can be organized, but there’s no one way to organize everyone.”