Working from home is fast becoming a trend. The gig economy is thriving and remote working is no longer the distant future – it is very much the present design of work. So, it hardly comes as a surprise that an increasing number of people are looking at building their home offices.
For those of us who have experience with remote working, we know that working from home is just as exciting as it is tricky. You have the chance to stay comfortable in the home environment but at the same time, you need to ensure peak productivity. It is a fragile balance you need to strike to ensure you become neither too comfortable nor too distracted.
The design of your office can play a major role in your productivity, so it is imperative that your workspace is devoid of any distractions or interruptions. In setting up your dream home office, you want to make sure that it reflects your work ethic while simultaneously aligning with the logistics of your work.
Keeping in mind the plethora of considerations involved in this, here is a handy but elaborate checklist for when you are designing your home office:
- Ask some preliminary questions
Clarity is foremost in designing the layout and structure of your office nook if you seek maximum efficiency. Ask yourself important but meticulous questions about the office space before you start: what work will be done in the space, whether there is a need for a visiting space, whether you need a collaborative workspace for teams, whether you need printing and other equipment, what other tools like whiteboards, projectors etc are needed on a daily basis, does the space get a steady internet connection, is the space conducive to conference calls, video and audio?
2. Decide on the actual physical space
Once you have a fair picture of the demands of your work from the office space, choose a nook in your home. The place should be structurally separated from the rest of the house. A couch or a bed nearby is likely bad news. The temptation to take a nap can be consistent, nagging and victorious over your motivation to work.
Usually, a separate chamber like the guest room or an unused servant quarter can be easily converted into a distraction-free office zone. You will need to evaluate how this space can be put to use efficiently with respect to the placement of tools, equipment, your WiFi router, desks, chairs, shelves, folder cabinets, among other things. Ensure that your office space is wide enough for you to take a little walk after regular, brief intervals.
Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash
3. Ensure Proper Lighting and Outdoor Contact
It goes without saying that an office should be well-lit; home offices are no exception. It is hard to work if you are sitting in the dark, not to mention it can potentially hurt your productivity and health too. When designing your home office, ensure that natural light has an outlet to enter the room, for instance, through a slider or a French door window. Working in your home can get pretty lonely at times, so it would help to have some Vitamin D intake through the natural sunlight. This becomes all the more important if you work flexible hours, and report with round-the-clock availability.
Even when it comes to light bulbs, make sure they are positioned in the right direction so that there are no glares or uneasy reflections. As a side note, use light colour palettes on the walls because dark colours will make the room look darker and gloomier too.
It is equally important to have adequate interaction with the outdoors. For your own sake, it is crucial to take regular breaks from the constant screen time. Ideally, the view should be serviced by a large window. However, if that is an unlikely possibility, you can work around the view of the room. This can be done by filling your workspace walls with pictures, visual ideas, mood boards, artwork, affirming quotes, etc.
4. Choose ergonomic equipment and furniture
Furniture and equipment are the two categories that will demand a lot of brainstorming in terms of their design, placement and dimensions. You should install only ergonomically designed office chairs and dual-function sitting/standing desks.
Your work desk is the single most important part of the home office. It will define the aesthetic and tone of your room too – a computer desk will provide you ample space for desktop equipment in addition to attached filing cabinets and drawers. You can choose from among a storage-style table, an L-shaped desk or if you feel fancy, go for a U-shaped desk to complete the look of your office.
The other key decisions would relate to office stationery and devices. Would you need a whiteboard, pin-board, post-its, printer, scanner, etc? A few non-work related items, like the artworks mentioned in the previous point too, wouldn’t hurt. A great addition to the look would be small plants, like pots of succulents to keep the room lively and green.
5. Ensure Privacy
The whole point of dedicating a space in your home to work is to create a distraction-free space where you can focus or concentrate. You shouldn’t be disturbed while you are busy trying to focus on your work and get things done. To ensure this happens, insist on having a door that can be locked.
6. Get Steady Internet
A large chunk of remote work is essentially communication through emails or holding meetings over teleconferencing software – all of which requires you to have a steady internet connection and mobile network. It may be ergonomic and practical to have an office in the basement, but make sure you get a robust signal there, or else the whole idea would be a flop.
7. The extra effort needed for a meeting venue
Functionality is a big part of any home office. In keeping with that idea, you need to assess if you’d need to entertain visitors, clients or colleagues in the home office. If you envisage having to host teams and work collaboratively, the office will need to have flexible space with temporary, foldable furniture. Additionally, brainstorming sessions would necessitate that you have additional equipment like whiteboards or projectors.
Conclusively, just as I mentioned in the beginning, the key is to find a balance. The home office should reflect your personality, while also representing your work. It should be comfortable enough to be motivating but not too homely that you’re tempted towards a nap. It should bring you the professional vibe through the hardwood furniture, but also bring the perks of working from home on a bean bag chair.