Technological innovations, workforce trends and entrepreneurial spirits are allowing more American workers to step away from cubicles and corner offices and into the comforts of their own homes. But maintaining productivity at home can be a challenge for workers who lack a well-equipped environment.
Follow these steps to create a functional home office that can improve your focus and output.
Start from scratch
Clean out every nook and cranny of your office space-to-be. This will help you re-establish the room’s form and function and eliminate any home- storage clutter that is not directly related to your business. Starting with an empty room allows you to achieve a clear vision for your space, and let’s face it, you’ve probably been avoiding cleaning that closet for years. Now is the time to replace the flooring or shampoo the carpets, paint the walls and clean the blinds. The goal is to create a fresh template that speaks to you and your environmental preferences.
Sit down and write a thoughtful list of the activities that will take place in your office. Will you have video conferences that require a mounted screen? Will you need to organize documents and files across several work surfaces? Do you have special technology requirements? Do you need a lot of file storage? Make your list as specific and extensive as necessary so you can plan your furniture and storage purchases.
Crunch the numbers
Set a realistic budget for your project and give spending priority to your chair, work surface and lighting. These costs can range drastically, so setting a budget from the start will help you ensure that you are able to purchase everything you need. Don’t forget that, after the big-ticket items, you’re also going to need pens and paper and bulletin boards — and that stuff adds up. If you need to purchase your items in phases, start with the desk and chair. These two elements are the core of your office, and their quality is crucial for your comfort and the health of your back.
Location, location, location
Before you put a stick of furniture in your office, you need to plan a layout that takes into account lighting and accessibility. Take inventory of your technology needs and the location of sockets and switches. If you need to move a plug, now is the time. Small changes like installing a ceiling fan or moving a light switch might seem like a pain, but think about how many hours you’re going to spend confined to this room. Additionally, think about where you want to sit in relation to the windows, keeping in mind that you’ll want to minimize glare on your computer.
Lighting is essential to the proper function of a space. Natural light is always preferred. If possible, choose a room in your home that has natural light flooding through. You will need additional light sources for those early mornings and late nights. A desk lamp is great for illuminating the task in front of you, but they don’t cast a very wide glow. You’ll need to layer your lighting by including an overhead fixture and a floor lamp.
The desk. It’s the anchor of your office. The size, function and style of your work surface are very personal and should be considered first since this could be your most costly purchase. You will build your space around this very important piece of furniture, so choose wisely but don’t be afraid to go a little wild. One of the benefits of working at home is that you don’t have to conform to boring corporate furniture. If your home office lacks storage space, or if you like having your files at the ready, think about elements like drawers and cabinets. If you have room for pens and files elsewhere, perhaps something modern and streamlined will suit you better.
Sit and ponder
If you will be sitting for several hours of the day, it is crucial — nay, mandatory — that you select a throne that fits your body properly and is easily adjustable. If you have the space and desire to use a treadmill desk or balance ball, go right ahead, but I caution you not to purchase them in lieu of a solid chair. Take your time testing out all the options, and purchase your desk chair through an office furniture dealer. They will be able to help find you a chair that fits your body appropriately and teach you how to adjust it.
I have a healthy obsession with good-looking desk accessories. I never met a leather blotter I didn’t like. So, if you’re in the market for a little something fun, let me introduce you to the world of Poppin. This bold-as-you-like-it online office supply and furniture company takes style and color to a new level with accessories that look like pop art. Locally, there are great accessories to be had at Lumens, Restoration Hardware and Ikea as well.
Have a snack
Have food and beverages readily available in your office. Even if your kitchen is only a few feet away, having your Keurig and favorite snacks in your office will eliminate the tendency to leave your office unnecessarily and get sidetracked. This becomes especially important if you have kids or pets at home while you work.
Show off your brand
Just because you work at home does not make you any less of a professional.Get that signage up! Drink out of a logoed mug, and write on custom stationary. Be proud of your work, and separate it from the rest of your living space.
Now, get back to work
You will be spending countless hours in your newly minted office, so have fun with it. Hang inspirational quotes, words of encouragement, certificates of achievement, art and family photos. One of our favorite additions to our office is the “Everyday I’m Hustling” pillow by Made By Girl. I can’t help but smile every time I see it.
Pilot and Arba see those offices and the traditional 8-hour workday as inefficient and outdated relics of the industrial age, when a set shift and common location were vital for communicating and performing work.
Walk into any coffee shop and it’s obvious that the place we call “the office” has changed. Many of the people sitting at tables are likely mixing laptops with lattes as they browse email and write reports. Some may be pitching a sale over coffee.