COVID19 working from home and home schooling

Welcome to the new normal of working from home.

Urbansize Plywood desk

It's certainly weird times and for many, this might be the first time you're setting up a home office. Add to the mix you have kids home too and maybe you're living in a small apartment. How are you going to make this work?

BREATHE, we've got you.

The backbone of our business is finding solutions for small spaces and we generally run this ship from home, so we've got plenty of ideas and practical experience for how you can set up your space for success for working from home (and let's throw in some home schooling!)

corner desk

Image credit: Thayer Gowdy

Here's how you're going to do it.

Firstly consider what's going to work best for you and your home's inhabitants. If you live on your own or are the only family member needing to work from home, the second half of this article covers all kinds of options of how and where to set up a functional space, even when you don't think you have space for it.

However, if there's two or more of you working from home, or you have some kids to home school, think about what will work best for you all. Will your kids work best if they are separated in their rooms or do you want to make a communal home school space? Do you want to work alongside your partner and/or kids, or will you need to be on your own to concentrate?

monochrome workspace

Image credit: Geometric Skies

We all work differently, so thinking through this question for yourself and talking it over with your family is the foundation of creating work spaces that work for everyone.

Do you need individualised work spaces or a communal workspace or both? Perhaps some of your household want to work side by side and others on their own. Depending on your needs scroll through to our suggestions to find a set up that will work for you.

Communal workspace

pink study

Image credit: My domaine home

If you are a family, or couple you might consider having a common workspace, or perhaps a couple of common work spaces, for example, one for grown ups and one for kids. There are many ways you can set this up to suit both your work habits and the limitations of your home.

If you have the luxury of having a dedicated room for work lucky you! Now it's time to make some adjustments to make this into a communal space.

You might need to create some extra desk space. If you don't want to buy additional desks, or aren't able to move any others from the rest of the house, consider moving your dining table in. Maybe you can do dinners off the coffee table or breakfast bar instead. If you can forego your dining table, you can create a large communal desk space.

Shared work space

Image credit: Agushi and Workroom Design

If you have kids homeschooling in the same space, you might want to create a zone for them with a separate table or desk. Consider breaking up their home school day into the tasks they need to do in the office and stuff they can do in other locations around the house, or outside, if you can.

If you don't have a home office and are feeling bummed out thinking that this would be the ideal solution to all your problems right now, consider whether you could make it happen. Could it be worth it to make the kids share a bedroom and turn one of their bedroom's into an office space? Or if you have little ones, move their cots into your room to free up a designated room for work.

double desk

Image credit: Duran Virginia

We're going to be in this for months people, so it's worth thinking outside the box now as to what you truly need to survive at home day to day.

If you can sacrifice a room somehow to make a dedicated work room without putting anyone out terribly, you will thank yourself a month down the line when your kitchen has inadvertently become the epicentre of everything (as it will) and you're picking porridge remnants off your spreadsheets and discovering 3 day old banana peels under precarious piles of maths books.

No can do?

Don't fret, there are other ways of doing work from home without a home office.

3 desks

Image credit: French By Design blog

If you live in a small space, the key to finding room to work from home and accommodate home schooling is multi-functional space.

It's relatively easy to build an office corner into a living room or kitchen space (see 'individualised work spaces' below), but it becomes more challenging if you're trying to create a shared workspace.

In the living room, consider installing a couple of floating desks if you don't have the room for desk space.

oak floating desk

Urbansize Oak Floating Desk

If you're still stuck for desk space for the whole family, consider appropriating the coffee table as a workspace for the kids.

While kids are homeschooling, they will not be able to sit down for a long period of time, even more so for younger children, who may be able to sit on the floor and 'work' off the coffee table for short bursts of tasks. You might want to think about having numerous spots for them to work from, rather than one designated office space which might work better for adults or older kids.

Get them moving throughout the home by breaking up homeschooling tasks to areas around the home that are appropriate to the task and introduce some old school subjects like cooking, to incorporate natural routines of the day into learning opportunities - likewise with gardening. If you're living in an apartment, even tending to herbs on a windowsill can be great for early learners. Doing things with their hands is a good anecdote for screen zombies.

No doubt, a few days into lockdown without a work from home game plan, things will tend to centralise in the kitchen. The kitchen is always a natural family hub and seeing is there is often a ready made workspace at hand - the dining table, you might already be gravitating to working from the kitchen.

This is completely fine and could work really well for you as a communal workspace. Just be aware of the functionality of the space. Either all work related stuff needs to be cleared out at mealtimes, or mealtimes need to move somewhere else. It's the haphazard co-existance of both that can give rise to problems.

If you really need your kitchen table for meal prep and eating, but you still want to make the kitchen into a work from home space, try designating work hours. For example, after breakfast the kitchen is cleared and the 'office' opens until lunchtime. A rollaway trolley is good to quickly load up work gear and wheel it out of the way when the kitchen is in food mode rather than work mode. Or if you're going to re-purpose the dining table to office space, then consider TV dinners for the next few months, or switch off the TV, grab some cushions and go for Japanese style floor dining at the coffee table!

It's all about being flexible and meeting the challenge with new habits and approaches.

Urbansize Oak desk for bloggers

Individualised workspaces

If it's better for you, your kids, housemates or partner, to work on your own, it's much easier to set up a work from home space almost anywhere.

Look for unused corners, like under stairs or in hallways, you can turn into a work from home or homeschool nook. You might find space you never knew you had.

gap desk

Image credit: Tom Ferguson

Alternatively, you can make a workspace in the corner of the living room or kitchen with the addition of a small desk or floating desk, if space is really tight. It's always a good idea to try position a desk near a window or as close to natural light as possible. If not, just make sure you have a good study lamp or overhead light source.

It's also possible to fit a workspace into the bedroom, which may be the only alternative for those of you house sharing or who just really need some quiet space away from the hub bub of the rest of the home to concentrate. The key to a successful bedroom work space is making sure it doesn't get cluttered and affect your ability to sleep in that room. Invest in desks with drawers or additional storage if you need it and pack away work when you're finished with it as you don't want to be looking at it, getting stressed out when it's time to relax and sleep.

joined desks
Image credit: Design Kaktus

While you're not able to renovate during isolation, there are still many things you can implement to successfully work from home or home school your children.

Take advantage of home delivery to shop for furniture and supplies to meet your needs whether you're setting up a co-working space at home, or private work nook. At Urbansize, we're open 24/7 delivering around the world and for free within the UK.

Be responsive to the way you already use the spaces in your home, but also be prepared to create new habits, move everything around and even clear or re-purpose rooms in order to make space for a productive work day.

Your new work from home reality is likely to be much longer than a couple of weeks, so settle in, make the best of working in your PJs (go on, do it at least once!) and send us your best working from home or home schooling tips!

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