Once considered a luxury, a home office setup is now considered a staple for all types of professionals. A functional work space is essential for the modern professional, especially for remote workers and small business owners. Having a dedicated work space anchored in the convenience of your own home can do wonders for your productivity and creative inspiration.
There are many factors to consider prior to creating your home office space. Budget, location, size, and the nature of the work are all of the utmost importance – but balancing professionalism and practical needs with your personal tastes is, arguably, the most delicate matter of the process. Anyone can throw a computer and a desk into a room, but tailoring the space to meet your needs is ultimately what transforms your chosen space into a true “3rd place” where you can comfortably set your mind to your work.
Why a Professional and Well-Equipped Home Office Matters
The benefits of a home office setup for remote workers are numerous. Your commute is no more than a few steps away from your living space, which saves both time and money. A seemingly short commute adds up over time. Who wants to waste time? Rather than spending hundreds of net hours commuting to and from work, wouldn’t you like to use that time to get an early start?
A dedicated work space in your home grants you personalized control over your environment and professional image. Your space is tailored to your workflow, free from the typical constraints of office protocol. You additionally have almost 100% privacy, as your office is comfortably secluded in your own home, rather than a cumbersome cubicle with little isolation from foot traffic.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of a home office is its effect on your mindset. Similarly to a standard office, your mind shifts into ready-to-work mode as soon as you enter the building. Even if you work remotely and commute, having a convenient area that instantly gears you for productive output greatly compounds comfort and productivity.
Before you make any other plans, know how much you want to spend. The cost of computers, furniture, stationery, and other office accessories can add up quickly. It is really important to know what you need prior to your trip to your local office supply store. If you are planning to renovate your home, contact the relevant professionals for an estimate. Do the job properly.
A simple budgeting method involves categorising your list in to three tiers of importance. After deciding on how much you want to spend, write down items that you need the most. Populate the first tier with essential items that you absolutely cannot compromise on, such as a powerful computer or a good desk. Fill the second tier with items that are important but not 100 percent necessary or those that can be swapped out with a cheaper alternative. Finally, dedicate the third tier to non-essential items relating purely to aesthetics and personalization.
Consider the nature of your profession and any specialized equipment it demands. If you work in customer service or remote assistance, invest in a high quality headset. If you’re a programmer, most of your money will be funnelled into your computer, monitors, and keyboard. A graphic designer may want to budget for drawing supplies (such as a tablet). You may simply spend most of your day in software, organizing spreadsheets, and sending e-mails, but that simply provides you with more money to spend on essentials you can rely on.
What are your office hours? Most people prefer to work during the day. For this reason, it is advisable to use a room with windows. You will feel much more comfortable in a naturally lit room rather than a dim closet. If you prefer to work in the evening, invest in quality lighting.
How you customize your home office also depends on who will be using it. You may have roommates or a spouse whose needs you should consider. Many couples who work remotely create collaborative home offices where the space and resources are shared. In such instances, both have an input in to how the environment looks and feels. If your work demands confidentiality, you can add a room divider to ensure that sensitive materials are isolated from others. A shared desk is also an important consideration when creating a home office for two. Make sure your decisions meet your needs.
If you plan to invite colleagues to your home office for co-working, ensure they have a comfortable space to work in. An excellent idea for accommodating visitors to your home office is to provide a large table with room for group work coupled with comfortable seating. You may also want to invest in amenities such a coffee machines, mini-fridges, and snacks for your co-working guests as well.
Working in your pajamas sounds appealing at first, but it’s not the most professional way to get things done – especially if other people will see you or be with you in your home office space. Dress comfortably – casually even – but remember you are there to work. And work effectively.
A clean, organized, and beautiful home office reflects well on you as a colleague. Visitors will have a much better impression of someone who is detail-oriented. If they see that every detail of your home is considered, they will know you take your work just as seriously. Impressions count.
Make sure your home office is isolated from noise. If you have colleagues over or you’re in a call, you and your co-workers do not want distractions from other people talking or children running around the house. Avoid spaces adjacent to bedrooms or hallways, and line the room with acoustic padding if the walls are thin. You can also establish quiet hours in your home when people are over.
Do you have children? Safety and privacy are especially important if you have young children. Make sure your door locks and that sensitive materials are out of reach. Place anything potentially hazardous in child proof containers, and lock up anything that could create a mess. Be wary of heavy items that could fall down, and make sure furniture is stable and safe. A locked door in your office also helps you compartmentalize the space in your mind – a closed door closes you off from distractions and helps you get on the grind, especially with a baby on board!
Time and Effort
Make sure you have a temporary work space arranged where you can work comfortably if your home office setup will take a long time to build. You may even consider working at a local coffee shop or library, especially if you are renovating. Consider the effort involved in the creation and configuration of your space and your current workload – if you are already tired from a full day of work, you don’t want to come home to a second job! Know the time and effort required in advance before undertaking a lengthy home office project.
Choosing a location for your home office
After deciding your budget, consider the location of your home office. Do you have an existing area that would serve it well, or do you need to alter one via rearranging or renovation? Make sure your current space can house your chosen furniture and supplies – take measurements of the area and note the size of any larger items you choose for your office.
If you intend to modify an existing space, carefully examine your budget. Destroying walls, applying flooring, and adding partitions to your home office can be exceptionally expensive. Utilizing a new location such a shed or a separate house is much simpler but is, of course, much pricier as well.
Most people utilize a spare bedroom for their home office. Your average bedroom is fairly well-equipped for an office – you typically have enough space for a desk, a closet for storage, and a door that locks.
If you do not have an extra bedroom, you can utilize a large storage closet or a quiet area in your home. While having a secluded space is optimal for productivity, you can use room dividers and curtains to isolate your office if you deem that necessary.
Some people use their garage or basement for their home office. Although it may seem an unusual choice, a garage can make a great office as long as it is clean and insulated. If you live somewhere with excessively cold or hot temperatures, it may be better to use a different location. A basement is an excellent space for an office but, like a garage, it should be well-insulated and renovated for comfort – you won’t be able to focus in a drafty room with concrete floors.
You can also re-purpose a shed for you home office or build a separate building to house it. If you are considering these options, creating the space will consume the majority of your money. It is imperative that you plan properly to prevent over spending.
Home Office Ergonomics and Well-Being
Home office interior design and ergonomics can benefit not only your productivity, but also your mental and physical well-being. As further research is conducted into extended periods of sedentary activity, researchers are finding that office ergonomics greatly aid in offsetting negative effects.
Your home office shouldn’t revolve around the grind 24/7. If you have the space available, create a small relaxation nook. You can throw together a chair, table, and even some storage space for books to create an oasis of relaxation within your home office. You can even add a small library! Such a space can make your environment feel more inviting, however just be mindful that the room retains its association with work. If you have clients over often, you can have this space double as a guest room.
Sitting at your desk for hours a day has well-documented negative effects on your body. The office worker response to this problem comes in the form of a standing desk. Standing keeps your lower body and core engaged while stimulating blood flow to the entire body. Your muscles will also stay strong and toned since they are regularly engaged.
You can take the gym to the home office with a treadmill desk. A treadmill desk is great for repetitive work that you can do without thinking. Who knew you could burn calories while answering e-mails!
Ergonomic Chair, Ergonomic Desk, Keyboard & Mouse, foot rest stand, – why it is important?
Every item you use in your office effects your body, especially ones that you use repetitively. Improper back support may not seem too important at first, but you can find yourself dealing with discomfort over time. Similarly, an ergonomic mouse may seem like a silly purchase to you at first, but you may find the shape of a standard mouse cumbersome. Typing all day without arm support and using a mouse that does not fit your hands can cause carpal tunnel.
By using what fits, you can stop bodily discomfort and health problems before they happen. Modular furniture is expensive, but it can save years of hospital bills. Ergonomics also help the energy of your space, as you are much more inclined to be able to feel comfortable and inspired in a space that you wind down in physically and mentally.
Incorporate energizing style elements
There are many ways to accessorize a space to make it your own. One of the easiest ways to make a space feel energetically balanced is through the use of color psychology and Feng Shui. You can also go green – natural plants make an office space feel much more inviting. And they look good too!
Home Office Decoration
While you should consider the necessities before you invest in aesthetics, decorations should not be overlooked. Personalization is something you rarely get in a modern work space, but a beautiful home office gives you artistic control a standard ay-from-home space could never achieve.
Consider the style, size, and color of your furniture and how it works with your home office layout. Your aesthetic choices should help your office feel like a home away from home. The mood should be casual enough for you to be comfortable, but formal enough to help you associate the space with work.
Before you buy any accessories you should contemplate color psychology. A key consideration for your space is the effect your chosen color palette has on your mind. There is an entire field of study dedicated to analyzing the impact on color on our wellbeing, and you can leverage this to your advantage in your workplace. Even a rudimentary understanding of color psychology can completely change the mood of your home office.
Cool colors are the best choice for a work environment. Blue, green, and purple are said to be the best for creativity and relaxation because they activate synapses and put less strain on the retinas. Warm colors such as red, yellow, and orange can infuse a space with energy, but too much can overload the senses. These colors grab your attention, and can even raise one’s heart rate and stimulate hunger!
Even profession interior designers always consider the cognitive effects of color on a space. For optimum mood and performance, you should infuse your space with a mix of neutral and cool colors. Warm colors as accents can make the space stand out where it counts. Of course, you can go as crazy as you want to – your home office color scheme is yours to decide.
Home Office Colors
White is a great choice for your space, because it matches well with almost every color. White signifies purity, cleanliness, and innocence. Ratios of white to other colors can affect one’s sense of space, as white can make an area feel larger.
If you want an extra dose of formality, use black in your home office. Black is associated with authority, power, and strength. Black can make a space feel smaller, so make sure to apply it with care.
You often see red in company logos and buildings, because red draws attention and stimulates the mind. Red is associated with passion, desire, hunger, and danger. It raises blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Red attracts more attention than any other color.
Excessive yellow or red can be overstimulating for some people, but orange is a happy medium. It mixes the vigor of red with the happiness of yellow for a more subdued energy. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and tropical weather.
Bright yellow is highly stimulating and grabs one’s attention instantly. Yellow is associated with productivity, intellect, and cheerfulness. Excessive yellow can produce an unnerving effect.
If you want a harmonious home office, green is the way to go. Green is the color of everything natural. It symbolizes nature, freshness, fertility, and growth.
Deep blue hues are great for a home office. They stimulate creativity and calmness at the same time. Like green, blue is associated with serenity and tranquility. It also stimulates focus and decreases the appetite.
A mix between the qualities of red and blue, purple mixes alertness with calmness. It is associated with creativity, royalty, and ambition. If blue feels too sleepy, and red is too distracting, you can meet in the middle with a shade of purple.
Home Office Furniture
Furniture is the cornerstone of any work space. The right desk, chair, and storage options can optimize your home office and thus your workflow. You should choose office furniture that meets your work and storage needs while complementing your space.
First, consider the centerpiece of your space. You want your desk to have enough space for your computer, papers, and other office accessories. Consider the nature of your work before choosing a desk.
If you spend most of your day on the computer, a simple one piece desk will meet your needs. Such a desk should have enough room for a laptop or a monitor/keyboard setup, with room on either side for storage and lighting.
An armoire desk is a classy option for those who wish to conserve space. Also known as secretary desks, these desks typically feature a sliding or folding partition and have several storage drawers on their lower portion.
Another way to utilize space with design in mind is to use a wall-mounted desk. While installation may take more time, a floating desk frees up space that can be used for storage. The main pitfall of a wall mounted desk is that once you install it, it’s there for good.
Perhaps the most space efficient desk you can buy on a budget is an L-shaped desk. An L-shaped or corner desk can be situated in the corner of your room, which frees up the central space and eases congestion.
Will you have guests over, or do you need a lot of space? Consider a U-shaped desk. This surrounds you with space to work, and extra chairs can be lined up around it for other people. Some U-shape desks also come equipped with storage attachments such as bookcases and cabinets.
Many workers today are concerned with the implications of sedentary lifestyle. Hours of sitting without moving can take a toll on the body over time. The solution to this is to buy a standing desk. Standing desks are typically adjustable, allowing you to alternate between sitting and standing to prevent fatigue. They can be purchased as standalone units, or as an add-on to the desk you already have.
If you are especially concerned about the effect of extended periods of sedentary activity, you can take the standing desk idea one step further with a treadmill desk or a pedaling desk. These desks will allow you to perform light exercise while you work, greatly reducing the effects of sedentary activity on your body over time. Work out while you work!
Without a proper home office chair, your entire working day can fall apart. The desk and the chair are the dynamic duo of the home office, so choose a chair that fits your desk well. A comfortable office chair can save your back.
You can always keep things simple with a basic plastic or wooden chair. An office chair without wheels can do a fine job, as long as you aren’t constantly moving.
The most accessible option is an armless chair. This type of chair is ideal if you move around a lot, or if you spend a lot of time writing. It provides basic back support and a comfortable seat.
A desk chair with armrests will give you slightly more comfort. Some people prefer chairs without armrests simply because they don’t use them. A home office chair with armrests allows you to kick back between sessions.
If you desire more back support then look into a high back executive chair. Although more expensive, such a chair is exceedingly more comfortable than a standard low back office chair. If you are willing to invest more in materials, a high back office chair made out of a material such as leather can last you for years.
For many people, storage isn’t completely digitized. You will likely have myriad of important documents you need to store for your work. Consider how much paper you work with before purchasing a filing cabinet.
If you only have small amount of documents, a simple mesh file cube can house what you need. This is also ideal if you are constantly going back and forth between your desk and your files.
You can also use a portable filing box. If you are traveling to your home office from work and back, a filing box will allow to move important documents while keeping them save.
A metal filing cabinet is idea of you have many documents you need readily available on-site of your home office. A metal filing cabinet can have several drawers. Depending on your preferences, you can use several single-door cabinets, or a multi-drawer vertical cabinet.
If confidentiality is important for your files then consider a locking file cabinet. This can assure that nobody accidentally sees something they shouldn’t while you are out of your home office.
A bookshelf can serve many storage purposes. It is most useful if you have many reference materials you need access to. Your ideal bookshelf should have room for books, files, and other office accessories. Bookshelves come in many shapes and sizes. A standard vertical bookshelf should suit most of your needs. You can also use a cube bookshelf that has spaces for storage cubes. You can even install shelves on the walls for floating storage space.
In case of emergency, you should have a fireproof safe somewhere in your home office. A safe can be mobile or stationary. A mobile safe is useful if you have important documents you need to move between locations. If you have critical items that you require to be protected at all costs then go with a large stationary safe. A fire safe can be locked in a number of different ways, but it is typically locked with a key or a keypad.
A rug is a great accent for a home office floor. Look for a rug that matches your office furniture. A rug can have a complex pattern or be made from a fancy material, but it can also be a simple monochrome piece of fabric. It can be big enough to cover your entire space, or it can serve as an accent piece for your desk. Many people purchase rugs as an alternative to a chair mat.
Artwork for Walls
Art choice is the finishing touch in an office environment. You have complete control over the art that accommodates your home office. Paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and even sculptures can be situated around your home office for a familiar touch. You can even create a custom print using a design of your choice.
Backdrop for web conferencing
If you spend a significant amount of time conversing with clients on video, consider a backdrop for your home office. You can use a folding partition, a large art piece, or even a ceiling mounted retractable screen. While a backdrop is not always necessary (especially if your office is neat and professional) it can add a touch of formality to business calls.
Extra Seating for Clients
Consider how many colleagues will be visiting your home and how often they will be there. If you have many visitors, consider creating a spare seating area. You can equip this with a coffee table and extra chairs. You should make the space workable, especially if your clients will be doing more than just discussing new projects in your space. You can even turn your client area into a small guestroom.
Home Office Technology
Technology is vital to the home office today. Computers today are so advanced that they are almost an office in themselves. After you have chosen a computer that accommodates the demands of your work (if you don’t simply use one you have already), look into other home office technology essentials.
Even if you use a laptop, a computer monitor (or several) can ease your workflow. Standard TN panel monitors are generally sufficient for most types of computer work. If you desire more clarity, look into an IPS panel monitor. For home office workers who perform color-sensitive work (such as graphic design or photoshop), go for a 4K Resolution monitor.
You may spend the entire day on your computer, so the mouse you click on the entire day should be ergonomic and easy to clean. A simple wireless usb mouse does the trick for most people. More specialized mice have more buttons and a more ergonomic fit. You can even use a vertical ergonomic mouse if you’re especially concerned about ergonomics in your home office.
Choose a keyboard based on how much you are typing. Your average wireless keyboard (typically paired with a mouse) should do the trick. A more sophisticated option is a mechanical keyboard – the only consideration with a mechanical keyboard is noise, as they can be quite loud.
Your first impression makes a difference, even in a video conference call. Invest in a good webcam with a high resolution and framerate so that your colleagues can see your face instead of a mass of pixels. Your webcam should present you and your home office clearly.
How often do you talk to clients? An ideal office headset should fit comfortably and have high quality audio. It can be wired or wireless, though a wireless headset grants you more freedom of movement. Your headset can have a built-in microphone, or you can use a separate microphone unit.
Instead of a traditional headset, you can also pair a standard set of headphones with a standalone microphone. A cardioid microphone is a favorite of many office workers.
Telephone – Handset
A small business owner who takes calls often should consider a landline phone. Handsets are typically cordless. Make sure your handset is compatible with your service provider prior to purchase.
Consider your printing output before you choose a printer. A standard inkjet printer will fill the needs of a home office with a small paper footprint. If you need extra firepower, go with a laser printer. While cartridges for laser printers can be expensive, they are replaced less often than inkjet printers. LED printers are much less expensive to operate than traditional inkjet printers, but the image quality is slightly inferior.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
If your home office power cuts out while you are working on a project, you could lose vital work. By purchasing a battery backup, your work can saved even if power is cut out. Uninterruptible Power Supplies also protect your equipment from surges and permanent damage. A typical 600 watt UPS can provide you with around an hour of uptime after a blackout.
One power outlet is never enough to the techy home office of today! Invest in several surge protectors to have space to plug in all of your gear. Surge protectors typically have 6 outlets, though they can have fewer or more depending on your office power needs. They can even be desk or wall mounted for space conservation.
How much paper will you be going through each day? If you rarely dispose of documents in your home office, a low power shredder that can handle 4 to 6 pages at once should be enough. Powerful professional grade shredders can shred as many as 20 pages at once.
High Speed Internet / Router
Your internet speed in your home office is affected by the power output, range, and speed limit of your router. A standard dual-band route can cover a radius of nearly 1000 square feet and support 5 – 10 devices at once. Since you will mostly be working alone, it is unlikely that you will have to consider a more powerful device.
A VPN router is an important consideration if you are accessing your main work network from a home office, or you need access to a corporate network. While the logistics of a VPN vary depending on the company you may be working with, it is nonetheless important to have a router readily available.
Home Office Stationery & Accessories
Desk pad protector
A desk pad provides you with a space to set your computer, mouse, and keyboard while providing a protected writing area. It often serves as a mousepad at the same time.
Running out of ideas for your home office? Back to the drawing board! A whiteboard can be wall-mounted or situated on a stand. Consider how often you will be using the whiteboard. A medium sized rolling whiteboard will do the trick for occasional reminders. A larger unit is better suited for presentations and complex drawings.
Keep your phone at the ready with a phone stand. Even in your home office, you should be ready to take calls at any moment.
Cables contribute to clutter. With a wireless charger, powering up your phone is as easy as grabbing and going. Make sure your phone supports wireless charging prior to purchasing a wireless charging unit for your home office.
Keep all your small tools organized together with a specialized organizer caddy. It can fit tape, notes, paperclips, pens, paper, scissors, and whatever other tools you need for your job. Rather than sifting through drawers to find the tools you need, a caddy keeps your supplies at the ready.
Organize that mountain of papers! Utilize a letter tray in your home office to keep track of your most relevant documents and keep your most important materials on hand. You can also store copies of papers you use often in such a letter stand.
Dual Monitor Stand
A monitor setup frees up space while allowing you to orientate your screen as you please. This allows you to move around your space while working, as well as being able to show your screens to other people in the room without them walking around to take a look.
Brighten up your work with a desk lamp! A lamp is an essential component to any office, as it allows you see more clearly especially while sifting through papers for long periods of time.
A portable heating unit can keep your home office cozy in the cold of winter.
Is your workload making you sweat? Cool down with a desk fan. A fan can also keep you refereshed in summer.
Make your workspace feel like a breath of fresh air with an air purifier. An air purifier can greatly aid with comfort, especially in a cramped space.
Ultimately, everything about your home office is your choice. Whether you design it yourself or employ others, your efforts will still yield a space that gives you comfort and convenience no standard office space could possibly match. Remember that your home office must haves may be different from those of other people, those preferences are what make your space yours. At the end of the day, there are no requirements or necessities for your home office other than what you choose. But remember you, and your home office, are definitely worth it!