Right now, with so many people needing to work from home much more, and many of them realizing that it works well for them, offering an outstanding work-life balance and making them more productive, as well as meaning they don’t have to worry about a long commute (thus saving time and money), the home office has reached a pinnacle.
It might have felt strange at first, especially if you were used to being around other people and working in a team, but gradually, as time has gone on, the idea of working from home has become a popular one, as well as one that has made a lot of sense of the past few months.
There are, of course, some problems with remote working. One of these is that the home office people are choosing to use isn’t quite right. It might not be an office to begin with, but instead is just a corner of a room or a room that other people can use (perhaps a dining area or bedroom). Unless your home office is perfect, set up exactly the way you want it, your productivity and comfort levels aren’t going to be high. Here are some important things to think about when you are creating your home office so that it really is perfect, and you can work happily and safely from home.
When you are designing your perfect home office, you need to think about comfort. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be able to work for extended periods (even with breaks, which are all-important), and you might find yourself losing focus. This is where ergonomics are going to be crucial to get right.
Ergonomics means using furniture that has been designed with the human body in mind and essentially ensuring that the piece of equipment – in this case, a chair or desk – can be used safely. This will mean checking that the body is supported where it needs to be and that the desk and chair combine well, not allowing one or the other to be too tall or too short, thus creating potential discomfort and even joint or muscle pain for the user.
When you buy your office furniture, spend as much as your budget will allow for, and always check it is ergonomically designed. It might be convenient – and cheaper – to work in bed or at the kitchen table, but you will damage yourself, and your work will suffer.
One element of creating the perfect home office that is often overlooked because it merely doesn’t occur to many people is natural light. You will need this in your home office if you want it to be perfect since getting a good dose of natural light (i.e., sunlight) during the day will increase your energy levels and reduce stress and strain. For prolonged periods of work, having a window or skylight that lets in the natural light will help much more than if you have no windows or you keep your curtains drawn so you’re not distracted by the outside world. Although the view can sometimes be distracting, you are much more likely to work well when there is natural light coming into your room, so it has to be a compromise at this point.
When you know where the natural light is coming in, you can work out the ideal spot to place your desk so you can make the most of this. It might mean your desk has to be in the middle of the room, or at an angle, rather than pushed up against a wall as you might have wanted, but it is better to follow the light where you can.
If you cannot use a room that has much (or any) natural light coming into it because you simply don’t have the space, you can use mirrors, paint the walls a bright white, or even use lightbulbs that mimic natural sunlight. If none of these measures are possible, you should try to get outside a few times a day to breathe in the fresh air and get some natural light. Do what you can, as your home office is somewhere you will be spending many hours during the day, and it has to be as comfortable as possible.
Storage is just as crucial as anything else when designing the perfect home office for your job. The neater and tidier your desk and the space around it are, the more productive you can be. Even if you don’t think you mind the mess, it will still be distracting if you have a lot of clutter around you. You might do your work in a hurry so you can get away from the uncomfortable room, or it might take you longer because you can’t sit still and concentrate.
Storage can be the answer here. The more storage you have, the less cluttered your desk will be, and the better you should be able to work. Having a suitable desk with plenty of drawer space should be high on your list of priorities, but you can also put up shelving or use filing cabinets to store paperwork if need be. If possible, try to reduce the number of documents you need to print and use the cloud instead, since this will minimise waste and save you space.
Keep It Quiet
Finally, once you have the room looking its best and designed in a way that will make you most comfortable, you need to consider how quiet the space might be. If it is in a loud area of the house, a place where lots of other people spend their time, you might find you can’t work very well at all. High traffic areas like hallways or a kitchen are not great places to work in.
Ideally, a spare room that isn’t used for anything else would make the best home office. You can shut the door at the end of the day and leave your work until the morning, giving you an excellent work-life balance as well as a quiet place to be productive.
If you don’t have this, or you share the house with others, you might even consider building an outside office. If you’re going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, this kind of outlay will be a good investment.