Millions of people around the world are working from home to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many workers have never worked remotely before and are struggling with focus and productivity. It is a common misconception that the individual worker entirely governs focus and productivity, but this is not the case. You can try as hard as you can to stay productive, but working in an environment that is not conducive to productivity will hamper your best efforts. While working from home, most people set up a workspace in whatever area is available but creating a home office that fosters and bolsters productivity is much more effective. Below are a few home office ideas that will help you stay productive while working from home. 

Build a Functional But Comfortable Space

When you are working from home, comfort is essential, but your workspace should serve function over comfort. Resist the urge to work from your bed as lounging while working often leads to lower productivity. Find a small, but cozy space to set up a desk and chair that is preferably away from household distractions. Creating a separate area for work within your house helps you distinguish work time from home time and gives a similar feeling to leaving the office for the day. Organize the space and ensure you have everything you need for work, so you aren’t getting up to grab items throughout the day. Be sure to add some color to your workspace as bland environments often compound boredom. Use organic dyes to add color to a blank pillow or blanket and bring visual interest to your home workspace.  

Personalize Your Environment

When you are working in a traditional office, you do not have the freedom to customize or personalize your environment, but while working from home, you have free reign. If you prefer working in a quiet room, now is the perfect time to turn off distractions and create your perfect peaceful workspace. If you prefer working with background noise, look for podcasts or white noise apps. With millions of people staying home, there are more podcasts than ever, so you can easily find one that suits your tastes. White noise apps offer a wide variety of sounds ranging from rain to static. Carefully select your background noise to ensure it is not a hindrance. Putting on your favorite TV show in the background might sound ideal, but if you catch yourself stopping to watch instead of working, it may be a sign you should choose something else. 

Proper Light

Most people are unaccustomed to staying indoors all the time, but good lighting can make the quarantine easier. Working in a dim or dark room can make cabin fever worse, cause you to develop bad habits, and damage your eyes. Properly light your workspace to keep your brain awake and engaged. Swap out dim incandescent bulbs for brighter CFL or LED bulbs and open your blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible. Natural light is ideal, but many CFL and LED bulbs offer models that mimic sunlight if you don’t have a way to let in sunshine. 

Communicate With Housemates

Not everyone currently working from home lives alone, and housemates can make it challenging to stay productive if ground rules are not established beforehand. Talk with roommates and communicate your needs so everyone is on the same page. Establish the hours that you need to be left undisturbed and what hours are ok to interrupt you for a quick question. Adult housemates should understand and respect your needs while working from home, but working from home with kids is much more complicated. Work with your kids’ needs to ensure they are cared for while meeting your own work deadlines. Communicate your issues with child care to your employer to find potential solutions or accommodations. New digital services are popping up to help working parents care for their kids while they work, so it is worth exploring unusual technological solutions during these unprecedented times. 

Manage Distractions

When you are working from home, there are far more distractions than in a traditional office. From last night’s dirty dishes to your cat that wants attention or a new video on Twitter, it can be easy to get sucked into a distraction without realizing it. Before you sit down to work for the day, remove distractions from your line of sight so you are less tempted. Create a schedule for when you can check social media to ensure you stay focused and are rewarded for your hard work. Breaks are essential, but distractions can be detrimental. Thankfully, there are a multitude of apps and programs that can help you stay productive by scheduling your time. 


Working from home will require an adjustment period for most people, but you can set yourself up for success by creating an ideal home workspace. Customize your home office so the space is functional, comfortable, well-lit, and tailored to your needs. Communicate with housemates and manage distractions so you can stay productive while working from home.