Working from Home: An Unexpected Piece of the Pandemic

One of the unexpected paths with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic took many people to home offices. There are ways to make it a more healthy experience and make it work even in a small space. Photo illustration by Metro Newspaper Service

I am no stranger to working from home.

Quiet River Studio was my home-based graphic design business for 15-plus years back in the day when my children were growing up and my Mac computer was so large that my cats would sleep on top of it.

With COVID-19 changes, on March 30 I said good-bye to a shared marketing office space at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center and moved my Mac home. The main difference working from home in the 1990s and now is my amount of office space and furniture. While downsizing and decluttering a few years ago, I gave away a large desk, file cabinets, shelves, etc. and moved into a tiny house.

Solutions for tiny-officing require extra creativity. Fashioning a shelf into a desk and using pool-noodle pieces to avoid bruising my shins was a quick, no-cost, pandemic answer. The makeshift 42-by-32-inch “office” is located in the living room and works.

Do not try this arrangement at home if you have children under your roof because ground rules and maintaining boundaries would be challenging.


The shift required a bit of online research to work efficiently. This link is to an article that I found helpful.

Working from home may also require creativity like using pool noodles as shin guards. Photo by Millie Engisch.

My tips for anyone working from home in a small space are:

  • Make one to-do list on your computer for a helpful reminder and update it regularly,

  • Keep all of your post-it notes in one small notebook and toss them when done,

  • Clear your desk daily and wipe it down, so each morning your space is fresh (remember we are now our own janitors).

Solutions for tiny-officing require extra creativity like fashioning a shelf into a desk. Photo by Millie Engisch.

General tips include:


  • If you spend most of your time at a computer, make sure you look out the window,

  • periodically to change you distance focus, so you don’t strain your eyes,

  • Take breaks; stand and walk to keep your lower-back from getting stiff,

  • Keep snacks outside of your work area,

  • Check in with co-workers regularly, share tips and positivity,

  • Do not be afraid to ask for help or ideas,

  • Be realistic about your expectations,

  • Listen to soothing music while working, if it is not distracting,

  • Keep inspiring artwork nearby,

  • Keep a healthy work-life balance and don’t give in to the temptation to spend more time working because it is convenient, remembering that focus and resilience are critical to productivity,

  • When you are not working, take time to eat healthy, be active, breath fresh air, get eight hours of sleep, socialize (virtually, if necessary) and laugh as much as possible,

  • Be kind to yourself and others.

If working from home becomes the new normal for an extended period of time, investing in proper furniture and garnering extra space may make it more sustainable.

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