For many people, working from home is a perfect arrangement. No commute. No cold drafts from the uncontrollable air-conditioning blowing down your neck. The freedom to design your home office exactly the way you want it.
However, there can be downsides to working at home and these typically fall into one of two opposing camps: lack of productivity or lack of work-life balance. Either you get so distracted with household chores (or the latest Netflix series) that you don’t get your work done, or you find yourself working late into the night because there’s no one to tell you to go home. (Or because you feel guilty about your daytime TV addiction.)
There is a solution. By thinking about how and where you set up your office space, you can create a home office that supports productivity. So you can produce your best work and shut down your computer on time at the end of each day.
The key is creating a space where you want to work. A space which inspires you to focus And most importantly, a space which you can shut away at the end of the working day. Remember, you work to live, not the other way round.
Create a separate office space
Segregation is key to productivity. Your home is full of distractions, particularly if there are other people in the house while you work. You need to separate yourself from these distractions and the easiest way is a physical barrier.
If you have the luxury of having a dedicated room for a home office, this is easy. Just make sure your office doesn’t turn into a dumping space for personal filing or laundry.
If you’re tight on space, your ‘office’ can be part of another room – for example, a spare room or living room. It could even be part of a wide hallway, a space under the staircase or even a closet. Get imaginative!
If your workspace is part of a multi-purpose room, try segregating it from the rest of the room with a bookcase or room divider. If you can’t manage that then hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door to avoid being disrupted.
A computer armoire can be a great solution where your workspace is part of a living room. Open the doors and you have your workstation, files and storage all set up as you need. At the end of the day close the doors and no one will know what the stylish cabinet is hiding.
Organize your space
Whether you’re obsessed with neatness, or thrive on clutter, you’ll want to organize your office according to your needs. Before setting your heart on a stunning contemporary desk unit, work out what equipment and how much storage you really need. Then go out looking for something which ticks those boxes.
If you’re a minimalist who prefers a clear desk, make sure you have sufficient storage space for files and paperwork as well as pens, pencils, and other stationery items. Also, think about how you can hide away electronic cables and printers and keyboards when they’re not in use.
There’s no real right or wrong answer here, but organizing your office so it’s right for you is good for productivity. So think before you buy!
Keep it healthy
If you’re working from home, you’re likely to be spending a lot of time sat down. The human body was not designed to sit in a chair for eight hours a day without moving and desk jobs are often blamed as causal factors for rising obesity, illness and even death.
But hey, let’s keep things positive! The good news is that by working at home, you are in control of your working environment. As long as you’re doing your job, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting down, standing up or even walking.
If you’re sticking to the traditional, seated desk, then the best investment you can make is in a good, ergonomically designed chair. There are lots of different types on the market, but make sure it’s fully adjustable and supports good posture. Many people now swear by the standing desk but it can take a bit of getting used to. An ideal solution is to get an adjustable height desk where you can switch between standing and sitting, such as the Ergo Depot Jarvis. If you’re on a budget, check out these DIY options.
Another thing to consider when setting up your office space is lighting. Your office should be well lit, ideally with as much natural daylight as possible. To avoid eyestrain, don’t place your computer right in front of a light source and avoid overhead lighting that shines directly on your screen.
Personalize your office space
This is where a home office is so much better than a corporate office. It’s a chance to get creative and make your space your own. Choose a color scheme that’s productive for you, whether that’s cool, calm colors or bright, invigorating shades. So what if no one else in your family likes orange? This is your office and your space.
Don’t get too carried away though – you need to be inspired to work, not daydream. You may enjoy covering your walls with holiday snaps, but if they distract you from the day job they may be better placed elsewhere.
For some people, a simple photograph of their family is all the reminder they need that they are here to work. Others feed off motivational quotes or prefer to keep their space more minimalist and sterile. If you’re creative, why not make a dream board that summarizes your work goals and rewards?
Don’t get too hung up on picking the perfect color scheme or pictures. The beauty of a home office is, that if you don’t like it, you can always change it until you find the home office design that works for you.