In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, one thing we all can be certain of is that the way in which we work may never be quite the same. As more and more people have already been working from home in recent years, the trend is definitely shifting in favor of a home office environment over a community style “central” office location. Add with the threat that COVID-19 has quickly presented suddenly working remotely from home has even become the norm for many who never thought their profession would go in that direction. But, as most of us have found out, it’s important that a home office can provide an environment that encourages communication, function and efficiency.
Here are some ideas for creating a functional and inviting home office space that provides everything you need to conduct “business as usual.”
Find a True Designated Place – Rather than just creating a makeshift spot for working, truly determine a good location within your home that will promote a productive work environment. That means the space should have ample light as well as a quiet location within your home for being able to easily concentrate on the tasks at hand. Shy away from being too close to the kitchen or great room where you may be tempted to turn on the TV, or join the action if others are at home.
And, don’t be afraid to use a small nook or mud room desk to create a place to work. A home office doesn’t need to be a grand or large space with a fancy desk and towering bookcases. With the small size of laptops and most printers, you can easily carve out a functional office space just about anywhere.
Consider using file boxes that you can take out of a closet instead of a filing cabinet that takes up more space. Some great locations include a larger mud room, a second-floor loft area, a formal dining room that never gets used, or even an oversized walk-in closet.
Have the Essentials – If you already have a home office in place, then be sure your existing desk and chair provide the space and comfort you need to complete your tasks. If you’re looking to buy new furniture for a home office, be sure to list all of the items you will need to have on your desk before your go furniture shopping. You may fall in love with a sleek table style desk, but if you are constantly needing to look at files and other documents, then choosing a desk without drawers will leave you overloaded with paperwork that no doubt will end up piled on your desk. A comfortable chair is a must. You will spend countless hours sitting in it and although it can be tempting to select a chair that’s super stylish, make sure it as comfortable as it is attractive.
Don’t Skimp on Style – A home office can often be solely designed for function, but consider making the space a reflection of your style and taste and it will become a place you want to spend time in. Paint the walls a color you love, choose artwork and decorative pieces that make you happy and will inspire you.
Arrange the desk so you have plenty of natural light to encourage a happy mood, but also have lamps and overhead lighting so you can adjust the light. Have a throw over the back of your chair in the winter and open a window for a fresh breeze in the Spring. The beauty of a home office is that you have the liberty to add comfort and coziness to the space as well as enjoy a lovely breeze when the weather permits thanks to operable windows. Most office buildings lack the ability to get fresh air, so it’s a huge bonus.
Also, a home office allows you to decorate with items you may cherish where many may not want to leave a beloved photo or painting in their office in a public building. It also allows you to keep you plant watered, so adding some greenery can boost your mood all year long. And, because it’s your own personal space, go ahead and choose fun notebooks, colorful pens and paperclips. Why not make your space happy and fun?
Stay Organized – Right from the start, organize the space to include all of your basic office needs. Paper, a stapler, a phone, high speed internet with wifi, a surge protector, a printer, scanner or fax machine may also help you with your work. What you don’t want to do is have to search the house for a pen or notepad when having a conference call. Make sure the pens, paper, stapler and other items you need stay in the space and don’t travel to other spaces in your home.
Create Structure – When you physically drive to an office typically you maintain consistent office hours that provide structure and a framework for your entire day. When working from home, it can be easy to get off track and start working later in the morning and continuing later into the evening. For balance and a good work-life balance, it’s a good idea to try to maintain a similar work schedule from day to day. Start at the same time every day, take small breaks at consistent times and stop to eat lunch around the same time each day. It’s healthier to create a schedule and will most likely keep you on track with your regular daily diet.
When nothing in the world appears to have structure or certainty, find comfort in the fact that you have a safe, sheltered place to still conduct business. Designing your home office to include all the things you need as well as the things you love will make your remote office a place of serenity, which no doubt will increase productivity.