How to Work From Home: Setting Up a Home Office

Monday, April 6, 2020

Looks like a lot of us are working from home for quite awhile (shoutout to our frontline workers like medical professionals, public transit employees, grocery store employees, and other essential employees who are out there risking lives while I have the privilege to work from the safety of my home). Prior to COVID I worked from home about once per week and spent a huge amount of time studying at home during grad school. I received some crucial tips from a group of Occupational Therapists I worked with, plus some tips from my therapist when I felt so overwhelmed at home because I couldn't separate work and school from my me-time. Here are the top tips that are keeping me somewhat sane right now:

The Office Setup
  • The space: I set up a corner of our guest room to be my office. This (usually) prevents Harrison from wandering into the background of my video calls and helps me with boundaries- when I'm in that room I'm working, when I'm not in the room I'm not working. If you don't have a separate room even picking a corner or space of the home is helpful here.
  • Natural light: This is a game-changer for my mood because we NEED natural light, plus it makes you look better on video calls. I set up my desk right in front of the window (it requires a bit of squeezing and rearranging of the guest bed that is not feng-shui but is good for my mood).
  • Desk chair: Desk chairs are $$$$ and I'm just not committed enough to this to invest in a good office chair so I DIYed it. I have an old kitchen chair with a padded seat and a $26 lumbar support pillow. The OTs told me my knees need to be at a 90 degree angle when I'm working, so I have an Amazon box for my feet to sit on that gets my knees to the right angle (this helped immensely with hip pain I had a few years ago).
  • LIGHTS: I've discussed this before but when yall join a video call and have one lamp on in the room, you look like an anonymous witness on Dateline trying to protect your identity. You too can have a Love is Blind production-level set in your home office with just a few extra lamps and by keeping your main lights on. I found my lamps around the house and love my little LED desk lamp that, yes, shines right on my face in video calls for that professional set look. Harrison calls my home office "the interrogation room" because of how bright I keep it. 
  • Keyboard placement: The OTs told me my elbows need to be at a 90 degree angle while typing which took some mix and match with my chair and desk setup. Once I got this right, my shoulder pain disappeared within a week. They also recommended a split keyboard to protect my wrist, but these are pricey!
  • Computer setup: While sitting up straight, our eyeballs should be looking straight into the center of the computer screen. This required me to do some minor engineering by putting my laptop stand on top of a game box. Not cute but good for the neck and ensures you don't sit hunched over all day.
  • Plants: I have a black thumb, I kill plants just by looking at them but have read a lot about how good it is for us to have plants around so I have a succulent on the desk that is extremely hard to kill. We'll see if it makes it through my isolation. And don't you worry, Amazon is delivering succulents.

Crowdsourced Suggestions 
Crowdsourced via Instagram poll
  • If working from home with a partner, make up a fake coworker to blame (Donna didn't do this dishes again!)
  • Scheduled breaks
  • Stand up at least once an hour
  • Stick to office hours schedule so you don't end up working all day/night
  • Burn a delicious smelling candle to keep you feeling zen and happy
  • Remember to eat! If you get sucked into work it's hard to step away and then we get hangry
  • Have familiar coworkers check in with audio calls so you can walk around while you talk
  • Keep your same morning routine but use commute time to dance party/read/meditate

Ok. That's a lot but hopefully helps our bodies stay right during this time at home. What else should be included in the home office?

PS: Thanks for sticking this out as we go through a rebrand/redesign. Over the next week+ this space will get easier to navigate and better to look at on mobile. 


  1. I only worked from home if my daughter is sick or we had a contractor coming or what not before, so I hadn't invested much time in my home office area. This past weekend I painted the walls in my office and ordered a new desk chair that comes tomorrow. I cant wait to get it! Natural light really is so important and instantly lifts my mood once the sun comes up and I can open my blinds! I like the idea of having a succulant or something in here, I have a black thumb as well though.

  2. Ergonomics are so important. I'm all about natural light too!


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