Working from home has its perks, and one of these is the freedom to make an office space that’s inspiring and conducive to doing your best work. The more thought you put into your home office, the better it’ll work for you. Here are five essential home office design tips to help you create your ideal work-at-home space.
Think Location, Location, Location
You probably spend a lot of your day in your home office, so choosing an ideal location is essential. If you need your day to be distraction-free, put your office in an out-of-the-way space where you won’t be interrupted by family members or distracted by housework that needs to be done. Conversely, if you like being in the thick of things, consider putting your office in a central location. If clients will be coming by, you may want a space that’s close to the front door.
If you don’t have a dedicated room for your office, look for a nook in the kitchen or living room where you can put your desk, or co-opt the guest room or basement for your home office. You can even transform a closet into your office space, or carve out some room in the attic.
Create Optimal Lighting
Although natural light in the office is ideal, daylight bulbs provide full-spectrum lighting that mimics the light from the sun. Whether or not you have a window in your office, installing a variety of lighting sources will ensure optimal lighting for all of your work tasks. The most important thing is to light your space adequately, since low lighting can have negative psychological effects.
Use a daylight bulb for overhead lighting, and place it on a dimmer so that you can control the intensity. Put a lamp on your desk, and use a warm white light bulb, which casts a yellowish light that’s midway through the color spectrum and gives the room a cozier feel. Place task lighting wherever you’ll need it, such as near the filing or storage cabinets. When installing lighting, make sure the bulbs are not in your direct line of sight.
Give Yourself a View
Natural light can help improve your mood, boost productivity, and reduce eye strain. If possible, place your office in a room with a window, and position your desk so that you can see outside while you’re working. If your office has to be in a closet, basement, or other windowless room, give yourself a view by placing art you love on the walls above your desk, or find a nature decal to place on the wall you face.
Choose Productive Colors
Paint has the power to transform a room, and color can have a profound impact on your mood and productivity. Cool colors like blue, green, and purple evoke feelings of calm and relaxation. Blue hues can make a hot room feel cooler, while shades of green offer a fresh, restful vibe and promote concentration. Shades of purple stimulate the imagination, while whites, ivories, grays, and tans are un-distracting and leave the decor open to a variety of accent colors.
Avoid red walls in the office, which create excitement and strong emotions. Likewise, stay away from yellow, which can be distracting and overpowering and may even cause feelings of anxiety or restlessness.
Make it Ergonomic
An ergonomically designed office promotes health and wellbeing during your work day. Ergonomics is the practice of creating a space that fits the person who uses it. An ergonomically designed office space reduces the risk of injury and improves productivity. An ergonomic chair is essential for preventing back and neck pain, and an ergonomic mouse helps reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. A glare-free screen reduces eye strain, and a movable monitor or lift for your laptop ensures optimal positioning to reduce neck strain. If you stand a lot during your work day, invest in an anti-fatigue mat. Depending on your office flooring, a mat beneath your chair will protect the floor and make it easy to roll where you need to go. Finally, position the items in your work space so that you don’t need to contort your body to reach for things.
Common Home Office Mistakes to Avoid
Now that you have an idea of the important considerations to keep in mind for ideal office design, here are some things you’ll definitely want to avoid.
Inadequate storage. If you don’t have ample storage space in your home office, you’ll end up storing things in piles on your desk, chairs, and other surfaces. Determine how much storage you’ll need for supplies, files, product, and other items, and invest in adequate storage right off the bat.
Inefficient or inadequate equipment. For the highest level of productivity and the least amount of frustration, invest in high quality office equipment that works fast and efficiently. Only purchase equipment you’ll need on a regular basis. For example, if you only need to print documents or make copies a couple of times a month, it’s probably more cost-effective and space-efficient to visit your local copy center for those needs.
Poor wire management. Tangled wires all over your office make it look messy, and it poses a tripping hazard. It also makes it difficult to reconfigure your equipment when necessary. Keep your cords and wires tidy and organized with ties, or invest in a cord management system.
Sharing the home phone. Opt for a dedicated phone line for your office so that you can keep your personal and business expenses separate. An office phone is more professional than using the home phone, since you can create a personalized voice mail greeting and avoid the awkwardness of a family member picking up the extension when you’re on a business call.
Using your office for personal activities. You may not have the luxury of having an office space that’s dedicated solely to your day job, but if you do, keep it that way. Avoid using your office for activities like craft-making, web-surfing, and TV-watching. Ideally, to promote work-life balance, you should use your home office for work during the day, then close the door and forget about it once evening rolls around.