Nowadays, more people have willingly committed to work in their own homes because they enjoy many benefits from it. You don’t have to suffer rush-hour traffic, you can work in your pajamas, your schedule is more flexible and made more personalized than it was when you used to work in your 9-to-5 job in a traditional office – and still be able to meet deadlines and hold big teleconferences and meetings effectively.
Another benefit of working in your own home is that you can turn any nook and cranny of your house into your own office. As it is your personal space, you can design the home office of your dreams. You can do that in any way and style imaginable – the sky is the limit! At the same time though, aesthetics should also be balanced with functionality.
The Internet is a goldmine for practical design tips that you can apply to your home office. If you are looking for them, you have just come to the right place! Without further ado, here are simple but practical suggestions that you can use to your own home office.
1) It’s all about location
How will you become productive depends on the choice of location to do your office work. The key to choosing the right place for your home office is to think when and where will you able to do your work. If you are a mom who is busy juggling between your career and raising your kids, you are likely to do your office work in the kitchen. If you are lucky to have an extra space in the kitchen, you can convert it into a functional office space. You can also turn that little nook underneath the stairs into a small office space. But if you are dedicated professional, you would rather want your home office to be tucked away in a quiet and private space to keep you from the daily household flow and distractions.
2) Choose a good office chair and desk
This may sound like a no-brainer, but imagine yourself having to use your dining chair and sit on it for several hours a day? That would be a literal pain in the butt. Invest on a good quality office chair that will provide a nice support to your body as you’re making calls or focused at working on a strict deadline. A swivel office chair enables you to move from place to another while still sitting, and adjust its height so that you can have a good look at your work on the eye level.
It is also important to have a good office desk — make sure that it is not too high or not too low so that you will have a comfortable view at your computer or laptop screen. There are desks with adjustable height but these are not always practical in a home office setting. If you have a desktop computer with a large monitor (some people even have two monitors working at the same time, plus a laptop!), you may need to have a wider desk which will accommodate other tasks such as taking calls, jotting down important memos or printing documents. The ideal minimum desk size for that should measure 48 inches (120 centimeters) wide. But if you own a laptop, you won’t need a wide desk — you may find a 60-inch (150 centimeter) wide desk the biggest and the most comfortable.
3) Make sure to separate your office away from home
Again, this may sound like a no-brainer. But with more people telecommuting on a regular basis, having a dedicated space for your office work is now considered as extremely important. It allows you to be more focused on your job, as well as to switch off from work when you’re at home. As much as we enjoy being with our loved ones, sometimes we really need to focus on our jobs. It’s best to have your office door locked to avoid unexpected interruptions and chaos while you’re in a conference call or rushing to some important deadline.
4) Go green
Not only does having natural plants make your office look pretty. It is also good for your health and your well-being. They actually help clear and filter out some noxious toxins in the air, keeping it clean. Plus, having natural plants will also help reduce stress and sickness – just looking at a little plot of bonsai can make you feel really good.
If you don’t have a green thumb, there are lots of indoor plants that are hardy and require little maintenance and even need little light. These include aloe vera, snake plant, spider plant, cacti and other succulents. They come in little pots that will fit in most desks.
5) Invest on a good lighting
Working near the window is always a good idea so as to let natural daytime light into the space. However, make sure not to place your computer or laptop directly under the sunlight.
Sometimes, office hours can extend well into the evening depending on how much workload you should finish to avoid beating the deadline. That’s where the need for a good lighting arises. This aspect is frequently overlooked, but it greatly impacts your mood and productivity.
In lieu of natural light, or when you’re working in the evening, try out different lighting types with various intensities, and find the one that will best work for you. It’s best to choose the one with enough light to illuminate your desk, but not with too much intensity as to hurt your eyes.
6) Don’t forget to add some good storage and shelving
It’s important that your home office has an ample storage for your papers, files and other odds and ends. But this aspect is often overlooked when designing a home office. Make sure that you have enough shelves and filing cabinets in your home office.
You also have to look at your work flow – which work will come in, which will remain, which will be the pending ones and which will go out when you’re done. Even though work is mostly done online nowadays, nevertheless you should have an inbox and outbox (actual ones, that is) placed on your desk, or next to your desk. It’s important to locate your storage nearby so that your files can be easily accessed.
Since most work-at-home professionals do not have the luxury of a big office, it is imperative to use space efficiently. Think vertically and horizontally when organizing your office space. Install hanging storage containers on the wall at your desk area so that you can have easy access to the things you need. Invest on a desk with lots of drawers for your files, notes, mails, gadgets and office accessories, but it should also have enough leg room. You can turn that unused built-in closet of your bedroom into a dedicated office nook with lots of vertical storage. If you already have a bookcase, you can turn it into a double office desk and add a few more storage on the side by installing baskets for easy storage and access to your files, documents and miscellaneous items.
7) Have a space for your guests
Your clients and colleagues plan for an important appointment with you — not on Skype this time, but in person. They will pay a visit to your home office at a schedule you have agreed upon. You may be discussing about your next big project, or plan for your own startup company. If you have not created a small meeting area for your guests, then it’s time to do so. It’s really nice to have a specific nook to receive your visitors. But if your office is small, it is enough to have one or a couple of comfortable and space-saving chairs that you can easily pull up to your desk and tuck under it when not in use.
8) Take control of your technology
There’s nothing like a cluttered office to distract your workflow. While you cannot do anything to beautify high-tech things like your iMac, phone and printer, at least you can hide unsightly cords. If you’re already working with wired technology, make sure that they are close to the power outlet as possible so that you can have easy access to it if you need to plug and unplug. Gather loose cords and cables, wrap them up with cute-looking fabric cord wraps (you can buy them on Etsy, or you can make your own) and keep them neatly inside your desk. Install a grommet to your desktop to guide any wires from your desk down below. Or better yet, invest on a wireless router, mouse and printer, and you’ll cut the number of wires down by half.
9) Show off your personality
The great thing about having a home office is that you can bring your own personality and style to it. Nothing and no one will limit you when it comes to your design ideas that are based on your personal taste. However, it is better to add items that are functional apart from being stylish, especially if your office has limited space.
For example: if you are into anything vintage or retro, we’re sure you will love these retro office accessories that will not only make your desk looking elegant, but should be functional as well. Putting up antique-looking posters will even add an old-world ambiance to your office. A nice and comfortable sofa is a good idea, as it will allow you to rest your eyes during a break — it would be better if you choose a sofa bed with additional storage.
Have a taste of vintage pop culture and want to incorporate it to your home office? Check out the “10 Popular 70s Decorating Trends That Are Making a Comeback” for great suggestions!
Another style tip: add a rug (especially a light-colored one). It will not only make your space more beautiful and cozy, but it will also help in demarcating certain areas of your home office space.