7 Tips for Making Your Home Office WorkFiner Details, Tips for Downsizing
With so many of us working from home, a functional home office space is essential. But that’s often easier said than done—especially if you live with someone else who’s also working from home.
You might think a dedicated workspace is asking a lot from a smaller space, but we have some tips and tricks to help you make your office (or offices) more functional, streamlined and integrated in your home.
1. Hide Your Office in Plain Sight
When your home office is in your living space or bedroom, you want it to be as inconspicuous as possible so that it’s not grabbing your attention when you want to relax. Look for furniture that blends seamlessly with your decor—like a simple white desk and chair for a bedroom layered in neutrals, or a sleek desk and office chair to compliment the modern sofa in your living room.
One thing to remember: Don’t sacrifice function for style. Your desk has to be the right height and offer enough surface area for you to comfortably do your work, while your office chair should be both comfortable and supportive.
2. Invest in Ergonomics
Ergonomics is all about a workspace that is designed for efficiency and comfort—everything in your home office should be set up so your body isn’t needlessly strained.
An ergonomic desk chair that supports your body is one of the most important investments you can make in a functional, comfortable workspace. You might also consider a standing desk (or one that adjusts for sitting and standing) to offer your body a break from hours of sitting.
There are also plenty of low-cost options that can offer an immediate improvement in how you feel and work. Gazing down at your laptop’s screen can cause neck and shoulder tightness, leading to muscle pain and headaches, so elevating your screen to eye level is important. All you’ll need is a laptop stand, keyboard and mouse—your company may even pay for them.
If your feet don’t sit flat on the ground when you’re sitting up straight at your desk, you can use a footrest under your desk to help encourage good posture. For a simple hack, stack old coffee table books or cookbooks beneath your desk or rest your feet on a yoga block.
3. Cut the Clutter
One of the most often overlooked aspects of a home office is storage. Cluttered spaces can negatively affect your stress and anxiety levels, your ability to focus and even your eating and sleep habits—and that’s the last thing any of us need right now.
If you’ve created a workspace in an open den, your living room or your bedroom, it’s vital that everything can be tucked away at the end of the day so you’re able to relax and rest in the evenings and on weekends (out of sight, out of mind!).
A desk with drawers is great for quick tidying, but you’ll also want to have additional hidden storage for files, office supplies and anything else you need to do your job. A storage bench or cabinet are great for keeping items hidden when not in use, but if you’re working with an existing bookshelf, decorative boxes and magazine files are great for corralling clutter and creating a streamlined look.
4. Good Lighting Is Essential
As the days get shorter and grey skies appear more often, lighting is going to become increasingly important in our home workspaces. Good lighting prevents eye strain and keeps you alert, so it’s a really important factor in how much we can do in a workday. In addition to natural light, your office area would benefit from good overhead lighting as well as a lamp for bright task lighting.
Lighting should also be a consideration before logging on to a video conference. Video conferences are part of our new work from home reality and lighting can affect how clearly your colleagues are able to see you. Too much light from a source in front of you may result in a washed out look, while too much light behind or above you can leave you swimming in shadows.
5. Get Cords Under Control
With all the electronics in our offices, cord management is a must. There are lots of products available, from cord covers to clips to cable management boxes, that help prevent tangles and keep unsightly cords hidden. If you use multiple electronic devices in your line of work, a system for managing all the charging cables will go a long way toward keeping your workspace looking tidy and organized.
6. Make Your Workspace Inviting
You’re going to feel better about working from home if you feel good in the space you’re working in. Paint walls a colour you enjoy, position your desk so you can enjoy the view from your window, and bring in a plant or two (they make us feel good). Give yourself something inspiring, relaxing or motivating to look at when you need to take a momentary mental break from your work.
You’ll also want to think about what’s behind you in your workspace. A simple way to put your best foot forward is to ensure the space behind you looks tidy. A blank wall is perfectly serviceable, but a styled bookshelf, a grouping of plants or a piece of artwork can make your background feel more dynamic and add some interest. Just make sure there’s nothing in the background that looks like it’s sprouting from your head or might be otherwise distracting to your fellow participants!
7. Be Open to Changes
As you go about creating a functional home office in a smaller space, you may need to make adjustments and rethink your space a bit. Don’t be afraid to rearrange furniture in your living room, bedroom or den to give you the space you need to work—you might even want to put some pieces into your storage space for the time being.
Right now, the most important thing is to create a functional area that allows you to work during office hours and unwind and enjoy your beautiful living space when the workday is done.