Do you get to work from home? Congratulations, you lucky person, you! But don’t just throw your laptop on the coffee table and call it a day — a home office is a must-have for any modern professional who works and lives in the same space. Follow these seven tips to be professional in the comfort of your own home.
Set up a space you can both work and relax in. Maybe that means a couch in the corner but maybe it also means an expensive ergonomic chair at your desk. Any way you choose to meet the goal of comfort is just fine, so long as it works for you. And remember that not all work has to be done at your cold, hard desk, either: You can get reading, writing and editing done from a more comfortable space, so make sure your home office has a corner where you can stretch out and embrace the joys of working from home.
Try to pick a place in your home that has a lot of natural light. If you’re using a whole room as your office, then place your desk near the window. If you’re working from a desk in a room that also serves another purpose (like a kitchen or den), try to angle yourself so you can look out a window sometimes and relax your eyes. Remember to use artificial lighting though, too: Most residential lighting is inadequate for close work. Add a few table lamps for ideal lighting.
Now that you don’t have cubicle neighbors to bother, set the tone of your new space with a candle or spray. Lavender is a calming scent, whereas peppermint energizes thought and action. It’s hard to believe but you can really make your workspace stand out from the rest of your house just by changing what you smell.
Can you hear a dog barking all day or maybe you live near a busy road? If so, your perfect home-office space might not be so perfect. Just because it’s home doesn’t mean it’s a good place to work. Consider a spot in your home where it’s quiet and you can get work done. Play some calming music or pop on some noise-canceling headphones, so you can focus on the job at hand — and not your neighbor’s screaming kids.
You can never have enough storage space. Add shelves or a bookcase to give yourself somewhere to place important documents and which look good as a backdrop to those conference calls on Skype. Consider low-rise cubbies to keep things organized or file holders on your desk. Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you have to do without the convenience of office goods. Use your space wisely and decoratively for an atmosphere of productivity.
Along with being kind to your eyes by sitting near a window, consider being kind to them in general with the sort of atmosphere you surround yourself with: That is to say, decorate! Your home office should have a different vibe to it than the rest of your house so when you walk in, it’s an immediate trigger to your brain that says “I’m here to work.” You don’t have to repaint: Even if it’s that old poster of a cat saying “Hang in there, baby” or a few plants, find a way to make the space your own.
Don’t forget you can deduct your home office on your taxes, too! Everything from how big the room is to the curtains you buy or the programs you download can go toward a tax break, so keep immaculate track of mileage, hours and receipts.