Lori Freitas Houghton

Lori Freitas Houghton

Editor

Yamilay Leger

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Kyle Elliot

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Updated : 10/28/2020

Working from home, full-time. This is life now.
Before the pandemic, researchers estimated that about 15% of the US workforce worked from home, at least some of the time. By mid-April 2020, that percentage had grown to 50%.

What used to be a far-off fantasy for many of us has become a reality.

Sometimes, it’s a rude awakening.

Table Of Contents

1. The Home Office: Funny Delusions

We envisioned the work-from-home setup as a no-pressure, easy environment. In the home office, you can wear comfortable stretch pants and share work gossip with your favorite cat or dog. Start late or end early, because there’s no commute.

We looked forward to less social pressure to keep up with appearances and look the part. We imagined snacks and distractions right at our fingertips. We’d be home to receive that package without a blip in our workday. Let in the dishwasher repair guy? Not a problem in the home office

We envisioned nirvana. Hey, we could even blast Nirvana in the background, because no one would be controlling the volume in our work-from-home setup.

Some of this turned out to be happily true, some of it patently false. And some of it we now wish hadn’t turned out to be true. (Anybody else wearing an extra 15 pounds from the “home office snack” diet?)

2. The Work-from-Home Setup Dilema

We overlooked a basic problem: many of us don’t have a built-in, resourced home office.

“Not everyone’s workspace or lifestyle allows the setting for what they really need to do at work. Sometimes they lack the resources, sometimes they lack the privacy,” notes Yamilay Leger, a Sr. People Leader who has facilitated remote workforces at various times in her career. “Flexibility is important. That’s how you keep someone engaged, that’s how you maintain the human connections. Everyone’s situation is different and acknowledging that is important. But you need to set expectations–some ‘must-haves.’”

Having standards for your home office is important.

“Your work-from-home setup can have a major impact on your mental health. How you set up your office can either boost your productivity or lead to distractions,” says Kyle Elliot, career and life coach and member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Must-haves for a work-from-home setup often include a dedicated space, a desk, and a door that will close to shut out your barking dog. Some of us have coped with our home office in funny and creative ways: but hey, if the problem is solved, funny works. Why shouldn’t your work-from-home setup bring joy to your working hours?

“You want to create an environment that is conducive to your working style,” says Elliot. “For example, I am a fan of working from coffee shops. I work to bring the coffee shop to my home office by making iced coffee, playing fun music, and working on my back patio.

Here are some creative work-from-home setups you can use to make your home workspace effective for you… Or, at least, to entertain you.

3. Problem #1: We don’t have enough space!

Turn that bathroom into your work-from-home setup

If you don’t live alone, let’s hope you have another bathroom or this could become pretty awkward.

Can you fit your chair and laptop into your shower? Then, hey —what’s all this whining about not having a home office space!

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Insider

That big bathtub? Lay something across it and there’s your desktop. Bathtub desks have been cool for decades. Completely pre-pandemic chic.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Amazon

Or, you can DIY it.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Love & Renovations

Don’t have a big bathtub (or, like, it’s wet because people actually bathe in it), but love the home office “funny bathtub desk” vibe? You can always put your bathtub desk in a different room. Or outside!

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Home Harmonizing

Hey, a bathroom home office is good enough for Demi Moore, although we don’t all have bathrooms the SIZE of Demi Moore’s. (Does she really not have space in her house for a home office?!)

Note we didn’t suggest adopting the toilet as your new office chair. Weird can sometimes be good, but that kind of weird —that’s just gross.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Pinterest

Another funny home office space? The closet.

Using a closet for a work from home setup actually requires cleaning out a closet. if you don’t do it now–realistically, are you ever going to clean up that closet?

Now, it’s true: a closet converted into a home office works better if your closet is a large one. It also helps if you have another place to put your clothing.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: The Crazy Craft Lady
Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: My Move
Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: My Move

However, people seem to make it work in a smaller closet. Hey, if it’s in Architectural Digest, you know it’s doable AND hip.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Architectural Digest

Got a garage? You’ve got a home office.

If the bathroom or a closet don’t seem like a good option for you, consider your garage, if you have one.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Houzz
Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Bidivine

Your garage may look less like this and more like, well, a garage. Throw pillows aren’t workspace essential.

But most locations will probably need some climate control.

Image Source: Twitter

4. Problem #2: We don’t have a desk!

There are many solutions (boxes, tables, crates, step stools, and laundry baskets), but one of the weirdest desk substitutions is a viable option: ironing boards seem to be the go-to alternative to a desk.

Cheap, already available, quickly moved or folded away, and usually height adjustable. Why haven’t we always used our ironing boards?

Mount them on a table. Use a mini ironing board to sit cross-legged on the floor. Ironing boards aren’t usually in heavy demand in most households. So you can enlist yours full-time. Who needs desks anyway?!


Image Source: Twitter

When Kamala Harris ran for DA in San Francisco in 2003, she used an ironing board desk. Rolling Stone magazine quotes Harris as saying, “I would campaign with my ironing board. The ironing board makes a great standing desk.”

There you have it: a Vice-Presidential candidate-endorsed desk alternative: the ironing board.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Twitter

So, now that you’ve got either your ironing board or shower work-from-home setup in place and the weeks have blurred into months, your next home office drawback may be:

5. Problem #3: We’re feeling cooped up!

You’re probably tired by now of all the shots people post of their outdoor office space as they escape to their lake house, mountain cabin, or beach bungalow. Don’t have one?

Here are some wacky alternatives for your office setup so you, too, can feel the call of the great outdoors in your workspace setup.

Work-from-balcony, anyone?

For those with an apartment in an urban setting, move your work setup to the balcony.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Technocrazed

It may not be a year-round solution, but a balcony or porch can often be converted into a pleasant outdoor workspace.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Decoist

If you have a garden or backyard, even better.

Stick your remote-working toes in the sand.

Maybe you don’t have an outdoor space or the weather is awful.

Here’s a quirky workspace solution that helps you feel like you’re in Bermuda, no matter where you really are: the indoor faux-beach home office. Funny? Yes. A clear cry for help? Maybe. It’s a giant sandbox, so… we’ll let you decide.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Trend Hunter

Perhaps these ideas are all a bit ambitious. You want to be outdoors and you want to be outdoors, now! Well, home office challenges are the mother of invention. Or something like that.

In any case, find the nearest trashcan and get to work.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Twitter

Keeping the work-from-home setup real

Even working from home, we may still feel like we have to dress the part and keep up with the telecommuting Joneses.


Image Source: Twitter

Don’t get discouraged by the numerous idyllic #WFH tweets and Instagram shots of glorious, high tech work setups, some tastefully minimalist and some intricately decorated.

Your work-from-home setup may be much more grunge than glamour; if so, you’re like the rest of us. We’re grateful for the people who keep it real.

Here’s the tastefully minimalist.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out

And here’s the intricately decorated.

Getting experience if you’re just starting out
Image Source: Twitter

About the Author

Lori Freitas Houghton

Lori Freitas Houghton

Editor

In her 15+ years in human resources, Lori Freitas Houghton has worked on both sides of the hiring equation. She’s experienced as a recruiter and partner with hiring managers. She is also a proven career coach with a high success rate at helping job candidates create breakthrough resumes that gain them interviews. With a BA in English and a Master of Organizational Behavior (MBA) degree, Lori also has considerable experience writing and editing HR content.

Yamilay Leger

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Yamilay Leger is a transformational HR leader, passionate about strategically creating an employee-centric experience which cultivates engagement and drives effectual business outcomes. Well-rounded but recently focused in the tech space, Yamilay has a proven track record of developing talent and effectively bridging and structuring functions or levels of an organization to optimize performance. Yamilay is a proud alumni of Rutgers University and holds an MBA and SHRM-SCP/ SPHR certifications.

Kyle Elliot

Experienced Recruiter & HR Partner

Kyle Elliot, MPA, CHES is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com ad self-proclaimed Starbucks addict. As a result of working with Kyle, students through C-suite executives have landed jobs at Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Google,Microsoft and nearly every other Fortune 100/500 company you can think of. They have also found happiness. Kyle is an official member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

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