With an abundance of SaaS products that have revolutionised the way in which we work, more and more of us are choosing to remain at home to carry out our daily business tasks and activities.
Working from home enables you to avoid the stresses, strains and costs of the daily commute. Telecommuting also empowers you to work the hours when you’re most productive and in an environment you’re comfortable and familiar with. But how do you go about planning and furnishing the perfect home office for you?
1. Be practical
Choose your office furniture wisely to ensure that it serves its purpose and complements the way you work. The idea is to make your working day as efficient as possible, while remaining comfortable, which means that you want to simplify processes, not clutter them up with unnecessary paperwork and gadgets.
When considering your office furniture, think about how you work on a daily basis and what you need to be easily accessible. Your office should be part of your home, it should match your décor and be a pleasant and homely space where you feel comfortable.
Sites like Pinterest are a great source of inspiration, when it comes to the design of a home office. There are endless ideas for making the most of the space available to you in your home, as well as ingenious space-saving tips.
When choosing equipment for your home office, think logically. If there’s something (such as a large printer) that you’ll only ever use once in a blue moon, but that will take up a large area of the office, then you should consider alternatives, such as using online services that enable you to print to the main office printer. You should also consider whether you really need to print the document at all, could it be emailed instead of sent as a hard copy?
It’s important to choose a room that’s as free from distractions as possible. Don’t plump for the room that’s the only route into your kitchen, for instance, as there will be a high level of traffic, especially around lunchtime!
Some people choose to adapt a building completely detached from their home, such as a large shed or garage. These types of outhouses won’t be used as regularly by others in the household and will remain relatively distraction-free.
A second phone line/work mobile phone is also a must, to avoid customers and colleagues receiving an engaged tone unnecessarily or a family member picking up the phone. A work phone also has a separate bill, which will help financially!
2. Don’t cut yourself off
Before working from home you’ll also want to liaise with your colleagues and make sure that you’re all using the same collaboration and communication tools. These tools will need to be installed on both your work computer and any devices that you’ll be using out of the office. Without the right collaboration tools, you’ll soon start to feel the strain of not being in the office.
Online tools such as Trello and Slack allow real-time collaboration, while CIPHR Net allows you to carry out everyday duties from wherever you’re working from, saving you (and HR) time and improving data accuracy for your employer.
If you’re going to work from home on a regular basis, then you’ll need to give yourself enough space to work comfortably and efficiently. Consider the space you’ll have once you’ve furnished the room with a desk, computer, shelving, filing cabinets, etc. Is there still enough room to move around freely and easily?
3. Colour matters
Colours affect your mood and your mood affects productivity, motivation and inspiration. Choose colours that you enjoy, but also consider how they’ll impact your performance.
In one study reported on Verywell, 71 U.S. college students were presented with a participant number, coloured either red, green or black prior to taking a five-minute test. The results revealed that students who were presented with the red number before taking the test scored more than 20 percent lower than those presented with the green and black numbers.
However, red is also energising; it excites your emotions and motivates you to take action, which is a good thing when you’re working to a deadline or finding it difficult to motivate yourself.
It signifies a pioneering spirit and leadership qualities, promoting ambition and determination.
- Blue – great for productivity, as it’s calming, aids concentration and improves focus
- Green – good for working long hours, as it helps you to remain calm and efficient, while not causing eye fatigue
- Yellow – stimulates creativity
- Red – invokes emotion and passion. If you need to get something done you might need some red!
- Pink – helps to reduce irritation, aggression, loneliness, discouragement and burden
- Orange – helps boost self-esteem and creates an enthusiasm for life
As well as using colour to affect your mood and productivity, it can also be used to counteract a dark space by reflecting light. Use lighter colours to make the most of small windows and bounce light around your office.
If you’re able to increase the light in your home office naturally, you’ll reduce the requirement for unnatural lighting and the effects it can have on your wellbeing and productivity.
4. Office lighting
Avoid harsh lighting in your office, such as strip lighting or fluorescent bulbs. Make the most of natural light and, if you can’t avoid using artificial lighting, use softer bulbs.
Select a room that has a window and, if possible, the view includes some green space and nature. Daylight helps regulate circadian rhythms, the daily cycles of waking and sleeping hours; when these rhythms are upset, we get stressed.
If you’re unable to create an office in a room with a window, then consider placing some nice landscape photos or paintings on the walls to add colour and interest. Staring at a blank wall for eight hours a day won’t inspire your best work and will increase the chances of boredom taking hold.
Experiment with different lighting to find out what works best for you. Depending on how spacious your office is, you might also consider differing light fixtures to set a comfortable mood for work. A desk lamp for offline reading is also a good idea.
Choose a chair that’s both comfortable and ergonomic, and spend a little money on it. A cheap chair that isn’t well designed and is of a poor build quality won’t do you any favours in the long-term. You’ll spend many hours sitting, so you’ll need a chair that provides good support and promotes a healthy posture to avoid back pain.
The chair you select should be easily adjustable, as we all come in different shapes and sizes, and have different requirements. It should allow positioning in terms of height and back support, and also include sufficient lumbar support.
When sat down, your feet should be firmly placed on something, not dangling. Position your keyboard so that your forearms are parallel to the floor and your monitor(s) is at a natural eye level when sitting/standing at your desk. If you need to tilt your head or turn in order to look at your main monitor, then readjust its position.
6. Spend some time on cable management
At first, it may seem like dedicating time to tidying power cables is a pointless exercise, however there’s a number of reasons why you should invest time in it:
- Aesthetically, having no messy wires hanging down from your PC is much nicer to look at. If you’re going to spend large amounts of time in your office, then it needs to look inviting and like a nice place to be
- Labeling your cables will avoid the frustration of trying to decipher what each one powers/connects to, should you need to unplug anything in the future
- Tidy and secure electrical leads are safer. If you’re working at home, then consideration needs to be given to the safety of others in the household, especially small children. Pets also have a habit of chewing through wires; if you want to avoid the risks and costs of your pet dog gnawing through a main power cable, then tidying them is a must
- Avoiding tangles allows you to use the full length of every lead (a small point, but often annoying)
There’s a number of products available that help you to tidy, identify and protect home office cables.
7. Add some greenery
The addition of houseplants to your office not only enhances the look and feel of the space, but also helps to make it a healthier place to be, in a number of ways.