Work as we know it has changed dramatically in the last 15 years, as the rise of telecommuting jobs, remote employees, and freelancers has slowly gone from a rare exception to the new standard for modern businesses in the Information Age.
The idea of a “home office” is nothing new, of course, but as it becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity for many people, the familiar conception of a whole room dedicated solely to acting as a workspace simply isn’t feasible for everyone. Especially those living and working in high density urban areas where space is already at a premium.
No matter what kind of work from home space you’ll be using, these 8 steps will help you create something that satisfies both form and function to help you do your best work.
Choose a Smart Location
Depending on where you live, this decision may already be made for you, but when you’re trying to create a workspace in your home, the first thing you need to do is figure out where that space is going to be. You’re going to spend a lot of time in or around your home office, so first and foremost, you should select a spot that you enjoy. For instance, if natural light and some connection to the outside world is important, don’t pick an area without any windows. Some other things to consider when considering the practicality of a location include the number of potential distractions nearby (e.g., the TV), how it may disrupt the flow of traffic in your home, and what necessary items and furniture you can reasonably fit in that space.
A little creative thinking can help you transform almost any space into a functioning home office that accomplishes what you need it to for your life and your work. Because your workspace will have to achieve all of the basic functionality of a traditional office, the design trick is to find efficient, and sometimes unconventional, ways to achieve the crucial balance between performance and storage. One way to do this is to take advantage of both vertical and horizontal space. Use simple, durable wall shelving and/or bin organizers to increase the amount of materials you can keep close at hand (and off your desk). If you’re going to be working in a studio or one bedroom apartment, consider adding an Adult Loft Bed, which will free up floor space and provide a nice little nook where you can build your home office.
Keep It Simple
You should do your best to start from scratch when designing your home office. At the beginning, only incorporate furniture or items that are essential to productivity, so that you can see how much space you actually have to work with once everything you absolutely need to work effectively is in place. After that, you’ll have a (mostly) clutter-free space to turn into the home office of your dreams.
Seating is Key
Anyone who’s ever worked in any type of information-based or creative job knows first-hand the importance of having an ergonomic and dependable office chair. It’s more than just a matter of preference; this chair is where you will spend many hours every day, and the wrong choice will inevitably have negative long-term consequences on your overall health, so we definitely recommend taking the time to try out some different options and make a well-informed seating decision. If you have the space for it, you should also consider adding a second, very different, chair to your home office. A second seating option away from your desk gives you a chance to stretch your legs and get a new perspective, which can be incredibly helpful when you’re feeling stuck on a specific task.
Go with the Workflow
As you beginning filling in your workspace with the things that you’ll need to be an effective employee, take your workflow into consideration and then design your office to accommodate and enhance your style. This starts with the desk, which should be comfortable and provide sufficient storage (whatever that means to you). From there, it’s a matter of putting your most important supplies in easy-to-access locations to cut down on minor interruptions and wasted time. When you establish a work station that is free of clutter and designed for the way you work, you’ll find it much easier to minimize distractions and get “in the zone.” But before you settle on anything, remember to…
Set Up the Tech First
Most likely, any type of remote employment is going to require at least a computer and some way to connect to the Internet. Before you start scouting locations for your office supplies and personal decorations, make sure to set up all of your necessary technological gadgets first. Because of all the cords and the bulkiness of things like computers, monitors, and printers, these items will quickly take up a lot of space in your home office. Trust me when I say that nothing is more annoying than realizing too late that you want to rearrange something for comfort or convenience and then having to spend half an hour or more undoing and reattaching a mess of electronic connections, so do your best to get it right the first time.
Eye strain in information work is a serious issue, so be sure to take lighting into account when you’re designing your home office. The best way to do this is to prepare for three different types of lighting for different times of the day. As much as possible, try to take advantage of natural light from windows or skylights. For electric lighting, an overhead light in the room is a great option for cloudy days or working at night. With either of these options, position your monitor(s) in a way that reduces or eliminates glare from these light sources to keep your eyes relaxed. We also highly recommend adding a lamp or table light to your desk to help with more focused work, further decrease eye strain, or just provide some mood lighting.
Design for You
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re designing your home office is to really own it. One of the real benefits of not working in a traditional office environment is that your workspace is all about YOU, so you should feel free to add as many quirky, personal elements as you want. Many people take this opportunity to decorate with images or ideas that inspire them and keep them motivated. Others like to unleash their creative side with interesting furniture and storage options that wouldn’t fly in a more conventional work environment. Whatever your preference, the important thing is to have fun and embrace the ability to build a workspace that will bring out your best self.