How to Effectively Setup a Shared Home Office
With so many people now moving to home working or hybrid working, setting up a permanent home office has become a necessity. Perhaps due to space constraints, you need to create a shared home office with your partner, your roommate, or a family member. If this is the case, you’ll need to consider the setup carefully, so you can both work in a space that meets your needs, enabling you to stay focused, productive, and work efficiently together.
If you’re looking for tips and advice for setting up and working effectively in a shared home office, below is our expert guidance.
Create Separate Zones
An important part of creating a productive shared home office is to create separate zones for you and your office mate. You’ll first have to think about your desk setup. Do you want to be facing each other, with desks in the middle of the room, or would you prefer to be back-to-back, facing the wall? Ideally, your home office will have lots of natural light, so you might have to decide who gets a desk near the window. Consider your individual preferences – if one of you prefers a warmer room, perhaps that person’s desk could go nearer a heat source. Alternatively, if one of you prefers a cooler temperature, they might be more comfortable near an open window. It can be helpful to draw up a rough floor plan of the room and detail where your desks, chairs, and any storage will be.
Once you’ve decided where your desks will be, you can start creating your zones. Think about what work from home essentials you’ll both need for the tasks you’ll be undertaking, including what home office shelving and storage you’ll both need. It can help to colour code your zones, so there’s no confusion or risk of muddling up your tools. Leitz has a huge selection of working from home tools in a variety of colours, including our Leitz Cosy range. The Cosy range combines stylish interiors with smart organisation solutions, with products available in our three Cosy colours – yellow, blue, and black – ideal for creating your separate zones in a shared office whilst still maintaining unity. Plus, you’ll never have to argue over who has the stapler.
You should also consider Data Protection when creating your separate zones. Data protection rules will still apply when you work from home and sharing an office with someone can increase the risk of unintentionally sharing information. Make sure that confidential phone calls are taken in private and never leave confidential information visible on your screen or on documents around your desk. Investing in a home office paper shredder is a great way to minimise the risk of a data breach when you share an office, making it easy to destroy any paperwork that might have confidential information on it.
Get the Right Equipment for your Workstations
Having the right equipment in your shared home office is vital to keeping you both focused and productive. Keeping your workstation organised with desk storage, such as letter trays, magazine files, or drawer cabinets will help to keep your desk free of clutter and your documents and tools organised and easily accessible. Think about whether you’ll both likely need the same sort of storage – in which case, you’ll need two of everything – or if you have different requirements and so might need a different arrangement.
It's important when setting up your individual workstations to consider ergonomics. If you’re using a laptop, a laptop stand will raise the screen to the appropriate height. Or if you have separate monitors, a monitor stand will work to elevate your screen to the right height for ease of viewing, keeping you working at the correct posture without slouching or straining.
Continuing with ergonomics, a sit-stand desk can benefit most people, giving you the option to swap from sitting to standing throughout the day. This reduces the risk of injury that can come with working in one position for too long, as well as removing the issue of fatigue that comes from standing-only desks. Our standing desk converters work within their own footprint, so you can save space on your desk, plus they’re simple to put up and down, meaning minimal disruption for you and your office mate whenever you need to swap positions. An anti-fatigue mat is a great addition when you’re using a standing desk, helping to keep you comfortable as you work, and a seat cushion and foot rest will both work to keep you in a healthy posture, supporting your body when you’re sitting. Equipping both of you with the tools you need will help to keep you focused and productive.
Organise Shared Home Office Storage
It may be that your shared home office setup requires some collective storage. In order for this to work for you both, you will need to create a system that you both understand and stick to. It could mean using an office cupboard organiser such as a storage box with organiser tray or storage boxes that you can easily label with the contents. Speak with your office mate about the sorts of things you’ll both need, what you’ll need to keep separate and what can be shared. When you’ve come up with a storage system that suits you both, it’s important that everyone sticks to it. It can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming if one of you will have to spend time looking for certain documents or tools because they haven’t been put back in the correct place, so always make sure you keep to your agreed system.
Set Noise Levels
Do you both like to listen to music whilst you work? Perfect – just create a shared playlist or put the radio on. The problem can come when one person likes to listen to music and the other needs absolute silence. That’s where you’ll need to invest in headphones, so each person can keep focused on their work in their preferred manner.
You should also consider whether one or both of you will be on the phone a lot whilst you work. It might be that you have to create a separate space outside of the home office room where you take meetings, such as at the dining table or on the sofa. This way you will be able to take part in the meetings without disturbing the other person or being disturbed yourself. If this isn’t an option, you will instead have to make sure you communicate with your office mate. Let them know when you have meetings that day, when you’ll need quiet and when you might be loud yourself. This way the other person should be able to plan their day around your meetings so you can both work without minimal disruption.
When creating your shared office, certain items such as rugs and house plants will help to ‘soundproof’ the room to a degree, helping to reduce the noise bouncing around the room and echoing. Make sure to include soft furnishings in your home office, to keep it comfortable and stylish as well as quieten the noise.
Stick to a Schedule
You should think about your work schedule and communicate it with your office mate. You won’t have to both necessarily start and finish at the same time – it can even help if one of you starts earlier or finishes later, as it means you’ll have some solo time in the office. However, you should both know what hours will be for work time only, so you both know what time you should be focussing and not distracting the other person.
You might like to organise your day so you can have some breaks or take a lunch hour together. If so, you should settle on the time you’ll both stop working, so you both know in advance, rather than disturbing someone when they might be in the middle of a task.
Whilst you should stick to your schedule as much as possible, you should both also be ready to be flexible. Sometimes meetings overrun or tasks take longer to complete than originally thought. Be prepared for unforeseen changes and adapt when needed.
Just as being in a corporate office, sharing a home office requires a certain level of consideration from everyone involved. This means sticking to the agreed schedule as much as possible, being aware of when you need to be quieter, not distracting the other person when they need to focus and doing your part to put shared equipment back in the right place so it’s ready when the other person might need it.
You’ll also both need to keep to a degree of cleanliness, but some allowances might need to be made. If you’re a neat freak and your office mate isn’t, it might frustrate you if their desk is untidy. However, they might prefer to work in what they see as ‘organised chaos’. The important thing is to keep any shared and collaborative spaces neat and tidy. A waste paper bin is an easy way of keeping your shared office clean and preventing rubbish from being strewn around the place.
Being considerate of your office mate might involve putting your phone or laptop on silent, so you don’t disturb anyone with notifications. It might mean taking your breaks in another room and it might just mean offering them some refreshments when you go to get your own. Being mindful that you’re sharing a space with someone else will help to make the experience positive for both of you.
Leitz has a range of home office essentials so you can create the perfect shared home office to keep you organised and productive.
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