There are many good reasons to have a home office. The most obvious one, of course, is that you are self-employed and work from home, but that’s not the case with everyone. Many people set up a home office or work area so that they can take work home with them, while some are studying part-time and need a dedicated work space. Others just like to have an area where household admin can be done, rather than the dining room table.
Whatever your reasons for setting up a home office, it pays to keep it as efficient as possible, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra space for it. At the same time, you want it to be a space where you can enjoy working, with as few distractions as possible, without feeling trapped in just another work environment. To help you set up the perfect home office, we’ve put together a few ideas that will maximize efficiency while creating a beautiful, comfortable space where you can get things done.
The first thing to do is to choose a room to set up in. Of course, if you live in a studio apartment, there is really only the one room, in which case you need to get creative. The area where you set up your office should be away from obvious distractions, like the TV or high-traffic areas such as living and dining rooms. If this is unavoidable, try portioning off a section of the room with a divider of some kind. Make sure, however, you have enough space to fit your desk and chair and are able to move around somewhat comfortably.
If you have a whole room to dedicate to your office, that’s great. Make sure it is centrally located, so you can get to the bathroom, kitchen and other areas easily enough for necessities. If, however, you are easily distracted, go for the quietest possible corner of the house.
Top tip: try for a space with as much natural daylight as possible. Especially for people who work from home, natural light helps cut down on the lighting bill, plus natural light is proven to help boost your mood.
One of the two most important pieces of furniture in a home office is the desk. To keep things as efficient as possible, you need to take some time and evaluate your desk needs. Some offices need just enough desk space for a laptop computer and a glass of water, while others need enough space to roll out full-sized blueprints. Your desk surface area really depends on your profession.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a nice, large area for a desk, then go ahead and get one that feels spacious enough for you. If, on the other hand, you have limited space, judge the desk on what it can offer you in terms of multitasking. For example, if you only need space for your laptop, choose a simple, small desk at which you can sit comfortably. However, if you need to maximize storage space, consider something like a rolltop desk, a desk that incorporates drawers or, if you’re really pressed for space, something like this desk chest.
Nothing kills your productivity like feeling uncomfortable while you’re working. The wrong chair can cause backache, headaches and other health problems, all of which affect your ability to do your work properly. Choose your office chair carefully, as it’s the other of the two most important pieces of office furniture you’ll buy.
The three most important things to remember about your office chair are comfort, support and quality. Your office chair needs to be sturdy enough to support your back throughout a full eight-hour workday, and it needs to be comfortable enough to make you forget it’s even there. You also want a chair that’s going to last a long time and not suddenly start hanging skew after a couple of months. There are thousands of cheap, poor quality chairs that seem great at first, but start giving out on you in short order. Don’t get fooled by their price tag! Look for a chair that is going to do its job – and do it well – for a long time.
Every home office has different storage needs. Some people need space for plenty of files, while others need little more than somewhere to keep a couple of thumb drives. Here again, evaluate your needs and the space you have available. Like I mentioned earlier, a desk with enough drawer space might do the trick for you. If you need more storage, though, look at what’s going to be the most space efficient. For shelving or filing cabinets, taller is usually better than wider for space-saving. Again, think about your specific needs though. Those blueprints? Having a good, wide set of drawers or shelves to store them can be great, especially if the top doubles as a space to roll them out.
For maximum productivity, you should be able to reach everything quickly and easily. Look at the items you use most often and place them closest at hand – a writer, for instance, should keep their dictionary and thesaurus close by. Those things you only use on occasion can be neatly stored so that they’re easy to get to when you need them, but are out of the way when you don’t.
Before setting up your office, take the time to plan it, taking into consideration your unique needs. You’ll find that just by planning it properly, you will have instantly increased your productivity and made things easier for yourself.
The last bit of advice is to make it a space that inspires you. Personalize it, decorate it and make it somewhere you are happy to return to each day. Especially if you are self-employed, you’ll be spending a lot of time here, so put in as much effort into it as you would any other room in your home.