Sometimes, planning an ideal home office is more than just about how to design a workspace at home. It’s also about some physical considerations, too, like the air, or how comfortable you are on your furniture. One way to see to these considerations is to think about sustainability and health.
To address this aspect of work spaces at home, writer Rosie Pollock is here to outline some strategies.
Whether it’s writing in a personal journal, cranking out blog posts, or managing a home-based business, the environment in which you work can be just as critical for productivity as your materials or motivation.
In fact, productivity and environment are so closely linked that office spaces have begun a dramatic transformation in the last several years (with companies like Google and Pixar leading the way), which with luck will lead us far from the dismal days of open-plan cubicle banks.
So, why not harness workplace productivity strategies and sustainable design and incorporate both into your own home office?
It’s in the Air
Environmental factors such as temperature that’s too high or low can decrease your productivity. Combat this by getting a thermometer and hydrometer (humidity reader). Note the temperature and humidity levels on your most productive days. Then on days when you struggle to find that motivation, see if changes in temperature or humidity are a feasible contributing factor.
To combat dry air, try a humidifier, one that’s as energy efficient as possible. Experts also recommend regular vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and a powerful one that can collect and retain 99.97% of particles down to and including 0.3 micrometers is best. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers recommends a minimum of 8.4 air exchanges per 24 hour period, so remember to open your windows from time to time throughout the day.
Experts recommend using as little carpet as possible, since chemically treated carpets, adhesives, and backings can emit numerous chemicals. Carpets can likewise collect dust and other pollutants in its fibers. When using carpet, avoid those with topical chemical treatments. Before installing any carpet, consider airing it out or using a mineral wash to help absorb odors.
It’s in the details
Curtains and other textiles in the room should be locally sourced and free from chemicals. Companies like O Ecotextiles, based in Seattle, use non-toxic, ethical and sustainable methods to produce luxurious, good-looking fabrics. Their neutral tones are calming, and can be amped up with colorful accents like bright-colored ties or framed photos on your walls.
If you’re journaling, objects that remind you of important events in your life, critical events that are approaching or are in progress, or interesting people you have known. Professional writers recommend pasting pictures of your favorite authors or national figures that inspire you onto your walls. Mementos from past vacations or the treasured object of a loved one can create a mood of nostalgia, if that’s what you want to evoke when you’re writing.
It’s in the building blocks
If your existing furniture isn’t suitable, hopefully you will be able to find some local options for recycling. Workplace efficiency advisors Officiency.com is based in Boulder, CO, but maintains a list of national recycling resources for office equipment– on everything from old tapes to ink cartridges to unused paints.
It’s always nice if you can receive free or discounted second-hand office furniture from a company that is refurbishing their offices. These can be given a new life with new upholstery or a new coat of paint or gloss.
If you’ve got the space, then a little sofa or chaise can add a comfortable feel. It doesn’t have to be Italian leather or a sizeable D’oro sectional to be a fantastic addition to your home office. Some corporations are now trying these tactics out by creating lounging workspaces and café-style office space. The practice is gaining popularity in Scandinavian countries– those furnishing forward-thinkers!
It pays to check with the Sustainable Furnishings Council to connect with green designers, retailers, and manufacturers, and lots of online furniture sellers now give tips on how to buy green.
It’s how you look at it
Lighting should be as close to daytime lighting as possible, if not skylights themselves. A cute and eco-friendly product is the solar-powered jam jar, which using a solar cell charges through the day-time and lights your space once night falls. Websites like Low Impact Living have compiled a list of eco-friendly lighting products, too.
Just like triggering your mind into a creative state by instituting a writing ritual , office space should be one that helps you to alter your state of mind, taking you on a transition from ‘at home mode’ to ‘office mode’, still keeping you comfortable. Once you’re inside, the space should cause you say (sub-consciously, perhaps), ‘I’m here now and I the opportunity is perfect… let’s get to work’. So, happy journaling, blogging, and company building…and good luck!
Rosie Pollock is a full time researcher and writer who lives in London. With five years experience in the industry she’s covered every topic you could imagine from extreme sports to cake baking and especially enjoys working on projects in the home and interior design sector, with a particular interest in organic lifestyle and home-ware products.