Creating the perfect home office takes a lot more than simply placing a desk in a room. Considering how much time you’ll be spending there, it’s imperative that your office is somewhere that you’ll actually want to work. The importance of design is even more apparent when you consider the effect your working environment has on both productivity and health. Follow our tips below to design your home office in a way that gets the best out of you.
1. Establish a designated office space
The first consideration—and perhaps most important—is your office’s location. While the kitchen table or your bed may work in the short-term, they’re not conducive to productivity. Working from your bed, in particular, can create a mental association between where you sleep and where you work, making it hard to wind down. This can adversely impact your sleep quality, which will kill the next day’s productivity.
Instead, it’s essential to create a designated working space that’s free from distractions like chores, TV, or other people. This will allow you to keep your work and private lives separate, and help you to better focus on the work at hand. The best place to locate your home office is in a spare room, especially if it has little regular function in your house beyond storage. If you don’t have a spare room, then anywhere else in your house that offers a minimal amount of distractions will work.
2. Organise your space efficiently
Even if inspiration has struck, and you don’t want to leave your desk, you should always take time to stretch your legs. However, doing this too frequently can disrupt your focus, and slow you down. As such, you should design your home office to give you the easiest access to any items you use most frequently.
You should also try and prevent clutter. A messy workspace can hamper productivity and increase stress levels. One recent study found that individuals working in a clutter-free workspace could work steadily for 7.5 minutes longer than those in an untidy space. Even if you don’t have a large room, you can still utilise the space you do have to create a tidy and organised environment. For example, you could set up shelves on your walls, giving you extra space to keep any office supplies. The space under your desk could also house things like a printer or file cabinet, though you should make sure to still give yourself enough legroom.
3. Make it comfortable and inspiring
Back problems are one of the most common issues affecting people who work from home, especially if you’re on your laptop all day. While there are certain home office items you can skimp on, a comfortable chair is definitely not one of them. A good ergonomic office chair will have enough width and depth to support you and will be easily adjustable with comfortable padding, so be sure to take these features into account.
It is also important that your office isn’t drably decorated, as this can drain your energy and again impede output. People have been shown to be much more productive in offices that support our identity. So make sure to design it in a way that’s motivating and personal to you—for instance, paint it in a colour you like, hang up pictures, posters and other décor, and put down a cosy rug.
4. Bring the outside inside your office
According to research by Cornell University, natural lighting can bolster productivity, health, and wellness. As such, it’s important to set up your desk near a window, allowing light to hit your workspace. Bringing the natural world into your home office with plants will also help you be more productive and healthy. A 2017 study by Harvard University found that plant-filled offices give us a 26% boost in cognition, 30% fewer cases of sickness, and a 6% rise in sleep quality. In fact, even pictures of nature can have similar productivity-boosting effects.