Colin | Feb 20, 2018 | 0
How to Design the Perfect Home Office on the Cheap
The world of business is in a constant state of evolution and change. The widespread use of the internet has made telecommunicating easier and more effective than ever. The result is that more of us are choosing to cut out long commutes, improve the values of our homes and enjoy the tax deductions made possible through the use of the humble home office.
Not only is a home office convenient, but it also affords the opportunity to create a workspace that caters to your needs and taste, so that you can function at a peak level of productivity.
In this post, we’ll break down how to create your very own work sanctuary.
Location, Location, Location
As with making any good real estate decision, location is key. Of course, most of the usual considerations are obsolete: in the parameters of your own home, you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere with good transport links that’s a reasonable proximity to your home and in a well-designed and functioning building. But that doesn’t mean that any place will do. While there are no hard and fast rules to locating your home office, as a general rule of thumb, you want to find somewhere quiet, private and separate from family members and other sources of distraction .
Your home office needs to serve your business and this will determine your spatial concerns. For example, if you intend to invite external clients and colleagues to your home office, you probably want to situate your home office downstairs and ensure it has its own door, so that your guests aren’t traipsing through your living area.
You may have a spare room that you can convert into a home office, but, if not, don’t opt for a cupboard-sized office — an extension can be well worth the investment. Unlike a sunroom or play den, an office extension adds value to your home in the long run and ensures that all of your office requirements are met to your taste.
When considering a conversion or renovation, it’s important to get advice from a trusted local tradesman. Take the time to explain your needs and ensure that the space is decked out with the essentials, such as a strong internet connection and separate phone lines.
Keep It Light
Commercial offices have a bad reputation when it comes to interior design and feng shui. All too often, offices lack basic features such as large windows and high ceilings. We’ve all had experiences of working in drab cubicles, while being subjected to the constant flickering of sterile, artificial lights. Aside from being a bit gloomy, offices with low natural light levels can have a negative psychological effect that can leave us feeling unmotivated and depressed.
When designing the layout of your home office, take advantage of natural light by positioning your desk so that it faces a window. Studies show that when offices have windows that let in sunlight, the functioning of both the workplace and its employees improves. As it turns out, natural sunlight helps workers exercise more, enjoy more sleep and feel more alert and energetic. Don’t resign yourself to a dark corner and, instead, drive your performance with nature’s very own motivation booster.
On the inevitable overcast days or nights when you choose to work late, invest in energy-efficient, high-quality lighting. Lamps, overhead lights and floor lights come in all shapes and sizes and the best are those that simulate daylight, so shop around and choose wisely. However, be sure not to place a light in front of your screen — the reflection can lead to a headache-inducing glare and eye strain.
Keep Everything in Its Place
One of the biggest pain points when designing your home office is creating enough storage space. You may have a huge designated space in your house for your office, but, chances are, it will never meet the scale of a commercial office with its various rooms and built-in storage facilities. Files, papers, equipment and tools can start to mount up and the clutter can have a detrimental effect on your motivation and organisation.
The key is to be clever and creative with storage. Everything should have its place, so be vigilant in your organisation and keep only what is absolutely necessary. Optimise your space by avoiding bulky and ornate furnishings in favour of minimalist designs — magazine racks and simple library shelves are great for storing documents and files. For pressing materials that you use regularly, a well-chosen desk with drawers keeps your space tidy and ensures you have access to everything you need.. Store stationery in pencil cups, trays and cardholders, and manage loose wires with wire clips. Take a practical and functional approach and stick to the essentials — if it’s not something you use regularly, then it has no place in your office.
Ergonomics is all about designing your work environment to increase comfort and decrease fatigue, discomfort and physical stress, and its goal is to heighten productivity and sustainability. When it comes to ergonomics, simplicity is key. Just a few modifications to your layout can have drastic effects on your enjoyment of your home office. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
- Give your eyes a break by aligning the top of your computer screen to your eye level. As you scan down your screen, your eyelids will naturally close, moistening them and keeping dry eyes at bay
- Maintain your posture by positioning your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and your head poised, as poor posture can lead to health problems, including chronic pain
- Keep your feet firmly on the ground by adjusting your chair. If you’re on the shorter side, add a footrest
- Stay comfortable by investing in a well-designed and comfy chair. The biomechanics of seating are pretty fascinating, but all you really need do is find a chair that works for you. You’ll be sitting in your chair for long periods of time, so it’s vital you choose one that allows you to work in comfort.
Add a Splash of Green
Office plants do a lot more than simply injecting some colour into an otherwise drab office; plants are proven to boost our mood and provide a sense of calm during stressful periods. Choose plants that can be left for a few days without water, but don’t forget to nurture them!
Keep It Personal
Once you have secured the furnishings for a practical and functional office, the only thing left to do is add a personal touch. Unlike in commercial offices, you can customise your home office in any way you wish. Don’t feel resigned to emulate white cubicle walls. Let your creativity loose and surround yourself with objects and memories that inspire and motivate you. Just be cautious not to get too carried away. These final flourishes should afford focus, not distraction.
Bright coloured walls may feel fun and zany for a day or two, but, day after day and year after year, it can become overwhelming. Keep your personalisation simple — think a patterned rug, pictures of loved ones and some framed artwork. Remember that, when it comes to the home office, functionality comes first and aesthetics second.
Creating your home office can be a creative and rewarding experience. Following these tips, you can create a workspace that you enjoy spending time in, but remember to set yourself a schedule and stick to it. Your home is more than just an office — it’s essential you work to maintain a healthy work/life balance.