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Remote Work for Professionals and Managers: Creating a Space for Work

You've probably noticed by now that your physical space can either positively or negatively impact your mental space.

So it's important to keep that fact in mind when you are setting up your workspace for optimal productivity. You want to do it in a way that increases mental performance and reduces cognitive load.

Research shows that if you designate a space, even a tiny area for getting work done, then your brain associates that space with productivity.

In practice, that means to avoid working from bed or the couch if you can. When you work in spaces designed for relaxation and unplugging, you risk confusing your brain:

For example, when you see your bed, your brain won't know whether to crank out a project proposal or to get some sleep.

It sounds trivial but your brain really does make these connections without your even realizing it.

If space is a constraint – and I get it, my husband and I lived for years in a New York City studio – then try to transform a space during work hours. That way, during work hours it has one function and during off-hours, it serves a different function.

For example, if you have no other choice but to work from your couch, then maybe make the right side for getting work done and the left side for unwinding when taking a break.

Or, maybe you claim a corner of your kitchen counter, because that's your only table space, and make a makeshift standing desk with a stack of cookbooks during work hours.

The point is, be creative and resourceful because that's how you can make a configuration that works for you.

Carve out an area, assign it as your workspace, and keep it consistent. Show up at the beginning of every workday to that same spot and call it your office.

It doesn't have to be glamourous or cavernous, but you do want to have a designated workspace.

If you need headphones or earplugs to drown out the sound from roommates or family, then do that. You might be sharing the space with people during periods of remote work.

Moreover, treat this space as a sanctuary. Keep it clean. Keep it decluttered. And most importantly, keep distractions away.

Once you've chosen a space, communicate your needs to the people you are sharing the space with.

Discuss it with the people around you and come up with a configuration that works for everyone.

For example, once you've voiced your needs, maybe your housemates can agree that you have the coffee table and sitting area to take your Zoom calls and do your work, during specified office hours.

Everyone should approach it with an open mind knowing that this remote work scenario might be unconventional and also might be temporary.

So perspective is key, if it's a situation you can't control but are trying to make the best of.

As with most things in life, it comes down to communicating:

…communicating your needs,

…communicating your boundaries,

…and communicating the benefits for everyone involved.

After all, when you can be productive during work hours, then you can then relax and fully unwind during your off-hours, effectively unlocking more high-quality time with your friends and family.

So the goal is to configure your space and mind for optimal performance which will enable you to get everything done that matters on both the personal and professional level.


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