As companies have started their return to the office, many of us have found ourselves occupying liminal spaces throughout the workweek. Any number of RTW policies may create these situations, but more and more we find employees who aren't quite office-bound and aren't quite fully-remote. While it's tempting to recreate all the luxuries of the office within your own home, sometimes this isn't fully-attainable.
Consider your own personal situation and design an at-home workspace that makes appropriate compromises with the tools you're provided at the office. For employers, this may involve making concessions or providing assistance to ensure that productivity doesn't wane when the workforce isn't under one roof.
What's Your Situation?
Not all work-from-home vs. work-from-work situations look the same. Depending on your structure, your priorities might shift as you create a home office that works with the corporate office:
- A-day or B-day: A common tactic has been a structured staggering of employees between alternating days in and out. This may not be so rigid, allowing employees to set their own onsite/WFH schedule.
- Here and There: There might not be any rhyme or reason to why an employee is onsite or at home, but there's still a healthy amount of time spent in both places. This might be on an as-needed or "I'll be there a day or two throughout the week" basis. Time spent in either space can be freely increased or decreased depending on need.
- Ready for the Worst: As cases rise and fall, there's still a massive degree of uncertainty that surrounds all of us. You may be maintaining an at-home workspace that's fully-functional but largely unused… For now.
What Isn't Necessary?
There are a few accommodations that are nice to have--who doesn't want a giant purified water cooler, four tray copier, or industrial coffee pot at the ready?--that aren't feasible in residential spaces. While many of these can be replicated on a smaller scale, there's a few things that can be used only within onsite hours.
Make sure your workload and workflow is structured around larger or unique items. Shared supplies, organizational tools, mailroom needs, and just plain big 'ol things aren't really accommodatable outside of an office space, so plan your day around the things you need versus what you can work with at home.
What is Non-Negotiable?
To compare to the former, you can probably get away with a Brita, Mr. Coffee, and a simple printer, but your workday needs go far beyond definite luxuries or shared necessities. These are often the tools we use to make our workday workable from our own workstations. As you design your home office space, look towards these easy add-ons to mirror the comforts of the office with the comforts of home:
- Two Monitors? More Like Four Monitors: If you need to have multiple programs running at once or are simply used to working with two monitors, a worthwhile investment might be an at-home set of monitors as well as your usual setup at work.
- You Raise Me Up: If you're used to a sit-to-stand desk or are experiencing posture problems at home, outfit your desk with a desktop riser. This will offset the cost of an expensive motorized height-adjustable desk while providing ergonomic comfort all day long.
- Delightful Desking: As you power through workdays sitting at home, you may have noticed that the kitchen table or living room couch isn't a great place to work. Invest in the right desk and chair setup now, as it looks like there's still going to be quite a bit of work-from-home left. It was understandable to put off outfitting a corner of your house or a lesser-used spare bedroom--we all thought this would be over with much sooner--but there's still time to get a lot of use out of your home base workspace.
- Simple Storage: While keeping in-line with your home décor scheme, add storage solutions into your workspace to keep office supplies, files, and workday necessities tucked away on your onsite days. These can do double-duty with household storage, ensuring that you still get the same use out of your residential space even when it's a makeshift office.
- Take It With You: When you're stuck in the middle of two places, you'll need a way to bring your must-haves with you. Invest in a padded, safe laptop case that's designed to take a hit. If you also use a lot of files, ensure that your bag is large enough to contain them.
How can You Help?
Besides making the policy decisions that dictate work-from-home schedules, employers' choices can ensure the success of every employee, no matter where they work. Even though 2020 has been rife with catastrophe and entropy, there are surefire ways to make sure that your employees can keep working as well as possible. Accommodations to make sure everybody is comfortable and safe can take on many shapes and forms, but to facilitate at-home productivity, it's worth providing assistance through your HR department.
Some companies have had success in creating a rebate, discount, or package program to help their remote and partially-remote employees feel comfortable in their homes. This can range from assistance with a desk/chair/storage setup or something as simple as extra office supplies to stay stocked in either location. As for those monitors-- there might be some old technology in storage or a possible deal that can be negotiated to bulk-purchase screens for employee at-home use.
Speaking of technology; a partially-remote setup can only function if employees aren't required to move bulky workstations back-and-forth as needed. It has become more cost-effective and convenient to use laptops and docking stations full-time and, if you're struggling to implement these big changes, know that it's a change for the better that can keep every single employee healthy and happy.