How to Create the Perfect Home Office
The number of people working from home has increased drastically in the last decade and looks set to continue as more and more firms are realising the benefits of remote working.
There are many advantages to this arrangement: no commute, flexible schedule and a more relaxed way of working, while from a business perspective it has been shown to increase employee morale and productivity. But, there can be drawbacks. It can be hard to draw a line between worktime and free time. You also have to avoid distractions and keep yourself motivated and focused. Setting up a home office is the best way to separate your professional life from your personal one, giving you a dedicated space in which to work and to walk away from at the end of the day.
From office furniture, storage and equipment to atmosphere, lighting and practicalities, these handy tips will help you create the perfect home office.
What do you need in your home office?
1. Dedicated workspace
A home office often has to fit in whatever space is available and you don’t need a huge amount of space to make it possible. The most important thing is to create a dedicated workspace so you can keep your office separate from your living space, no matter how you do it. Ideally, it should be a separate room that you can close off from the rest of the house and use for work only. Of course, this isn’t always possible; if you have limited space, consider the area under the stairs or even an unused built-in wardrobe!
2. Flexible office furniture
How do you like to work? One of the benefits of setting up a workspace at home is that you can choose your own office furniture and tailor it to create a perfect solution for you. Choose furniture that will adapt to different tasks and give you the space you need to work; what these needs are will depend on what type of job you do, whether you will have visitors to your office and, of course, personal preference. Home office furniture needs to be space saving and fulfil your practical requirements while also giving you a space you want to work in and fitting in with the rest of your house.
3. A good office chair
Just as in a normal office, you will be sitting down to work in your home office for numerous hours each day. It’s essential to have an office chair that will give you the right support and help you sit in an ergonomic position. Investing in a good ergonomic office chair will prevent back pain, circulation issues and other health complaints as well as lasting far longer than a cheap task chair. Look for a fully-adjustable office chair with lumbar support, adjustable armrests and a mechanism that lets you set the height and tilt of the backrest and seat to your preferred sitting position.
4. Convenient storage solutions
Think about what reference materials you need to be able to access and weigh that against the amount of space you have available. Make the most of vertical space by using wall mounted storage solutions and floating shelves. Don’t forget the space underneath your desk: a mobile pedestal or even a small filing cabinet will fit under your desk while still leaving enough space for your legs. Desk high cabinets, bookcases and drawer units will sit alongside your desk and give you easy-to-access storage as well as additional desktop space or somewhere convenient to put a printer.
5. Efficient equipment
Your home office needs to be just as efficient and well-connected as an office building would be. Invest in fast and up-to-date technology. Think about what capabilities your computer and phone need to have and make sure you get professional versions of software packages. Ensure your internet connection is fast enough for your needs and upgrade if necessary. Remember that the time you save from having efficient equipment and good connectivity will soon offset any initial expenditure.
6. Good lighting
Good lighting makes a massive difference. Natural light is always the best option so try to position your desk near a window if possible. However, your room should also have sufficient overhead lighting that you don’t have to rely on daylight. A desk light will make working in the evenings easier, particularly through those dark winter months. To avoid eye strain, make sure lights don’t shine directly onto your computer screen.
7. Organised cables
You’d be surprised how much time you’ll save down the line if you take the time to get cables under control when you first set up your home office. Invest in a cable tray that fits to the underside of your desk as well as cable ties and desktop cable holders. Label all your wires so you know what’s what. Opt for wireless devices as much as possible such as a wireless keyboard, mouse and networked printer. Going wireless gives you more flexibility as well as keeping your office tidier and more organised.
8. A noticeboard, notebook and stationery
Old-fashioned it may be but making physical notes can help you remember things better and it’s always handy to have a pen and paper around for jotting down quick reminders. Use a small noticeboard to pin up reminders, hang a calendar and display photos.
9. A sit-stand desk
A nice-to-have rather than a must-have, perhaps, but a sit-stand desk will give you greater flexibility in the way you work and allow you to change your position throughout the day. Sit-stand desks help to alleviate back pain and reduce the health risks associated with sitting for long hours. Standing while you work can also boost productivity and creativity!
10. The right atmosphere
When you work from home it’s tempting to surround yourself with home comforts but it’s important to get the right balance between casual home working and a professional space that fosters productivity. Give the space a personal feel with artwork, family photos and houseplants, but don’t clutter the room, use it for general storage or include anything that may distract you. Your home office should be a separate space from the rest of your house: both physically and psychologically. Think about the colours you use because this can have an effect on your mood and energy levels: monochrome is peaceful and free from distractions, blues inspire creativity while bright colours sharpen the memory and make you more active. Don’t be afraid to add a touch of colour and put your stamp on the place!
Other handy tips:
Think about whether clients or colleagues will visit your home office or if you will take part in video conference calls. Take this into account when designing your space and make sure it looks professional.
Make a work schedule and follow it to ensure work time doesn’t encroach on family time and vice versa.
Have a professional phone number.
Check your home insurance covers you for business purposes.
Be sure to back up your work to local hard drives or the cloud. Make a contingency plan for internet downtime or power cuts.