Who knows what this coming year has in store, but one thing is for certain: School is starting, and it’s starting soon. By most accounts, many schools and colleges will be returning to in-person learning, but you may still have plenty of things to think about.
“Should I choose online classes just to be safe, or do I want the full college experience?” “How will I ever manage my family’s schedule with so much up in the air?” “Are my kids going to be in school in person all year, or should I plan for them to attend classes at home due to the Delta variant spreading so quickly?” “Will I have to figure out if I can continue to work from home indefinitely?”
We can’t answer all of life’s questions right now, but what we can do is this: offer suggestions on how to set your home up for success, no matter what life throws your way for the 2021-2022 school year.
Setting Up Your Home for Distance Learning and Work from Home
Let’s get the most basic of basics out of the way first: internet access.
Make sure your household internet access is powerful enough to keep up with everyone in your family, at all hours of the day, even if you have multiple devices in use at the same time.
You should also take some time to think about each person in your household and consider what he or she may need. You may wish to ask everyone about their experiences throughout 2020. What worked for them? What didn’t? And how can it all be better?
The most comfortable, productive environments for home offices or school workstations include several key features.
When you need to concentrate, call someone, or participate in a remote class, you will need block out — or keep in — the noise.
Natural lighting can improve mood, which has been shown to increase positivity and productivity. Windows will also make you feel more comfortable and simply allow for a more scenic atmosphere. If windows aren’t an option, make sure the nook has the ideal lighting to meet the individual’s preferences and needs.
Ergonomic Furniture and Supplies
If you are working from home or children are attending classes at home, that means you will be using those chairs, desks, and keyboards relentlessly. Invest in ergonomic chairs, high-quality furniture, and reliable equipment. Working from home lying on the floor or with your feet up on the living room sofa may be comfortable and rather fun, but after a while, your wrists, back, and shoulders will feel the effects.
Along these lines, make sure you have cabinets or shelves for documents, books, or similar materials readily available at your workstation. The home office or study room should also be well-connected, allowing you or your children to work or attend classes without searching frantically through the rest of the home for a charger or the phone itself.
Yes, it is possible to work from home and still consider it “home.” The trick is to stop working once you’re done. One way to ensure you separate your “work home” from the “home is where your heart is home” is to literally set it up to look different than the rest of the rooms. How?
- Toss an area rug under the workstation. Once you’re on the rug, you’re at work. Step off, and you’re off. Don’t look back. As an added bonus, the rug will beautify the space, so you can take more pride in calling it your office or classroom.
- Paint the walls a different color than the rest of your home.
- Having some decor in your makeshift home office is a nice touch, but choose decor that is related to education or your career. Add some fresh greenery in the space as well for comfort and an aesthetic appeal.
- If multiple people must work from home, try to ensure each person has his or her own space. Allow them to decorate the space in a way that reflects their own individuality and is most conducive to their success.
Finding the Ideal Spaces for a Home Office or Workstation
Are you thinking, “Sure, all of that sounds nice, but where?” Take a look around! There are likely plenty of spaces in your home that can be converted into a home office or personal classroom. You don’t need a lot of space; a few simple creative tweaks are all you need.
Consider these spaces:
- A small portion of your kitchen, perhaps against a wall that isn’t being used
- The corner of a hallway
- A spare bedroom or a portion of a bedroom (as long as you keep your head off the pillow)
- Unused space in the basement
- A den/pocket office
- A dedicated section of the living room
- The dining room
We all hope life will get back to normal soon, and we are seeing life rebound to pre-pandemic days, slowly but surely. But you can’t deny that we all learned a lot throughout 2020, and we can apply much of it indefinitely.
In this case, we’ve learned that home is more than a place to shower, eat, sleep, and watch TV. You can make your home your palace, the place where you can live your best life.