As we adapt to our new normal with most businesses encouraging us to work from home, our spaces need to evolve to accommodate us in new and innovative ways, if we are to remain productive.
A well-designed home office will give you the necessary tools to perform at your best and will remove some of the stress associated with not being in your familiar office environment. It’s also important for maintaining a healthy work culture – especially when the couch and the fridge are dangerously close by!
1. Begin with the end in mind
Before you go about setting up your home office, consider what type of location is best suited to the type of work you will be doing and choose a spot accordingly. For example, a job that requires privacy and solitude will need to be situated away from the daily activities of the home, while a work-from-home parent may prefer to set up near the kitchen or living room so they keep an eye on their kids while working.
Once you know what type of space you require, it’s helpful to design a floorplan to ensure you’ve covered all your requirements and can organise the room before moving in. Consider what furniture you will need in the space and where you will place it. This will ensure you have enough space to accommodate all your items before going ahead and making yourself comfortable.
2. Natural light and view
Natural light and visual outlook are two of the most essential elements to consider when setting up your space. Doing your work is that little bit harder when you’re sitting in a dark, dingy room or if you stare directly at a blank wall when you look up from your screen. The use of natural light will also cut down on the need for lights, and your electricity bill. If there isn’t an abundance of natural light available, try to maximise what there is by hanging mirrors and painting your walls a light colour. Consider bringing the outside in with some greenery to enhance the view from your desk. Not only do plants purify the air, they’re also good for our wellbeing – they’re proven to lower stress levels and help you focus.
While natural light is important, make sure your computer screen isn’t in the way of direct sunlight and pick a good lighting arrangement for working in the evenings. If possible, position your desk to face a window. If you have to have your back to a window, blinds will reduce the glare on your screen without making the room darker.
When it comes to effective artificial lighting, an overhead ceiling fitting will provide good general light throughout the day. A desk light will give you shadow-free task lighting and extra light in the evenings.
If you don’t have the luxury of a view, try positioning your desk to face the door or place a feature piece of artwork or a mirror above your desk. Either will give your eyes something attractive to look up at when you take a break.
3. Comfort is key
Choosing the right desk and chair for your home office is absolutely critical. Select a desk that is wide enough for your computer and anything else necessary to do your work. The ideal width is at least 1.2m wide (1.5m is ideal) and between 70 and 90cm deep. Likewise, the height of your desk should be at least 70cm and no higher than 75cm. This ensures a comfortable position when seated and less back pain and discomfort when sitting at your desk for long periods of time. For the same reason, it’s imperative that you invest in a good quality chair with arm rests and an adjustable seat height if possible.
Some good sustainable shopping options are searching Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace for second-hand items (or pop into your local vintage furniture store). The joy of finding a much loved piece you’ve been looking for far outweighs the excitement of buying new. Plus, you’ll have saved some cash in the process.
4. Temperature control
Ideally you want the option of opening a window and getting some fresh air into your home office space. Be sure to think about how you will heat the room in winter and/or cool it in summer – being too hot or too cold can be an unwelcome distraction and may see you migrating to other parts of the home to get things done, rendering your lovely new home office space redundant. Before you turn on the heater or think about installing aircon consider what sustainable options you have. There are simple ways to block draughty doors and windows which will keep the cold air out and the warm air in. If you’re feeling extra creative you can make your own customised door sausage. If your house is super cold and you need a heater, opt for wall panel heaters which are the most cost effective.
5. Storage & shelving
Studies have shown that a structured and organised workspace inspires creativity and motivation. Make sure you address your storage needs adequately to avoid piles of paper and clutter from distracting you from your work.
6. Tech tips
In line with the above, try to avoid cumbersome and unsightly wires from ruining the organised aesthetic of your workspace. Try these helpful tips to keep your tech under control:
- Use a wireless router
- Opt for a wireless printer and a wireless mouse
- Add a grommet in your desktop to group wires together and lead them from your desk to the plugs below
- Attach any visible wires to the underside of your desk or run them down along a desk leg
- Gather loose wires along the floor together with a simple cord tamer
7. Make it your own
Working from home has the added benefit of you being able to make the space look and feel just the way you want it to. Include furniture items, paintings, colours and décor that inspire you and make you happy. It will vastly improve your mood and make you feel, well, at home.