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Creating a Home Workspace for Everyone 

It is a whole new COVID world out there and throughout this long crisis, many of us have come to recognize that our homes have become our safest haven.  We have all, collectively and individually, learned to adapt in new ways to a global pandemic, including working and going to school from our living room. While this has worked for many, for others, finding space for privacy and quiet has become a challenge. Coordinating access to electronics for school and fun, while encouraging interesting past-times, and creating nutritious meals has become as difficult as finding Lysol.

Even though getting outside over the summer, and re-connecting safely with others has eased the feelings of isolation and cabin fever, the fears of a possible second wave have not abated. That is probably why almost 25% of Ottawa families have chosen remote learning instead of sending their masked kids back to the classroom this September, leaving parents with a new reality.  Students from all over the city will be congregating online for synchronous, screen to screen interaction and using their computers from home, alongside one or both of their parents.  All will need reliable internet and quiet surroundings for classes, meetings, to complete research, write reports or produce material for their boss, be it a manager or teacher.

That means even more dedicated space for concentration, that is free of disruption and noise. Kids especially will need to be away from the beckoning gaming consoles, and newest memes on Instagram, to be able to focus and concentrate on their teachers and fellow students.  So where will you put all those desks?

Well, don’t panic – because sometimes it is more about rearranging the space you have than moving to a larger space.  Maybe you just need to sort the stuff, pitch the junk, and adjust what’s left, even if it is only a short-term solution until you have the means or method that works better.

Perhaps you can use your fourteen-year-old’s commitment to hoodies and sweats to your advantage.  Find a large dresser drawer set and move all the clothes from out of the closet and put them into the drawers.  Next, install a long white shelf – almost as wide as the closet doors – on the back wall of the closet, add a pretty white chair, and now your generation z daughter has a new desk.  Hang a cork-board above the desk, put Ikea box shelves on either side and take off the closet doors and in a blink, you have an instant quiet workspace. The room will feel bigger too.

If there is just no square footage to take advantage of all those new bunk bed/desk combos that are available for kids, or if your tween has become too mature for simple solutions, you might consider adapting common use or family areas.

If your laundry room is big enough, it could double as an office allowing privacy for parents who are embracing the new reality of Zoom/Team meetings in their pyjama bottoms and slippers. Put in two desks, or make one a folding table, add some comfortable office chairs and you too can have a quiet workspace to meet deadlines. The quiet hum of the dryer in the background is much less intrusive than the cacophony of the dog barking, the children squealing, or the neighbour’s lawnmower outside your new dryer-sheet oasis – but you should probably leave the washing for the weekend.  Remember that the kids can always text if they need anything, or parents can take turns entertaining and occupying the youngest or loudest. It just might work.

The grease monkey in the family may wish to use the garage, the culinary talent may choose the kitchen, or the sock-hockey player may want the unfinished basement – all your rooms can be adapted to the different needs of the person who needs the space the most, it just takes a little bit of thought and preparation.

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