Working from home can offer a myriad of benefits, from flexibility in your working hours to a greater sense of control over how you go about your workday. However, many homeworkers struggle with conducting professional work in a non-traditional office setting.
Whether you’re currently working from home for the first time or you’re a seasoned homeworker, setting up a dedicated home office space will not only help you keep your home and work lives separate - but also, with the right design, it can boost your productivity, creativity, and focus.
One of the most important factors in setting up your home office is finding a space that allows you to separate your professional life and home life.
Finding a space that lets you both physically and mentally close the door on your workday will help you protect your mental energy, reduce stress, and give you a better work-life balance.
The importance of natural lighting in any home office can’t be overstated. A well-lit space will help protect your eyes when you’re working at a computer all day.
Humans are well-attuned to the changes in daylight, and in fact, working in “cool” daylight can improve your alertness and mood while reducing fatigue.
If you want to set up a home office for success, ensuring your space gets a good amount of natural lighting is key.
Studies show that the average desk employee loses 2.1 hours a day to distractions and interruptions, with distractions breaking flow every 10.5 minutes.
When you choose a space for your home office, finding a room or area that’s away from primary sources of noise, foot traffic, and visual distractions can help you keep your mind on your work.
Once you’ve got a space in mind for your home office, you can start thinking about how best to set it up for success.
How you choose to furnish and decorate your home office can help boost your productivity, create a sense of focus, and even influence your success.
You’ll be spending the majority of your time at your workspace, so it’s important that you set it up in a way that works for you.
Your desk should be big enough to comfortably fit all of the equipment you use on a daily basis, and preferably, should allow you to keep your workspace set up, so you don’t have to waste time getting things ready every day.
Whether you buy a purpose-built desk, console table, or even adapt an old bookshelf, it’s important that your desk space is the right height for you to sit comfortably for long periods of time.
Desk workers are prone to bad posture, joint issues like RSI, and back pain, so your workspace should be set up with ergonomics in mind.
Standing desks, and in particular, desk setups that allow you to move between sitting and standing throughout the day can help reduce some of the strain that comes with sitting for hours on end.
Studies have shown that incorporating movement into your day can boost creativity, so having a height-adjustable desk can be a great way to keep your mind active throughout the day.
While you don’t need to spend a fortune to set up a home office, going for the best ergonomic office chair, your money can buy will protect your body and help improve your posture. Look for office chairs that offer lumbar support to keep your spine in alignment, adjustable height settings, and armrests.
At a minimum, a successful home office needs space for a desktop or laptop computer and a reliable internet connection.
When setting up your home office, make sure to make a note of what sockets your room has, as depending on what equipment you use, you may need to have more wired in to prevent overloading sockets with extension cables.
A high-speed internet connection is vital for success in any home office.
You need to check that your home office has a consistently strong connection to your home WiFi or, ideally, has an ethernet point in the wall to set up a router and wired internet connection.
If your connection is slow, intermittent, or non-existent, it’ll lead to lost productivity as you spend time waiting for things to load or reconnect.
In addition, a poor internet connection will lead to your audio and video quality suffering on internet calls, which can appear unprofessional and undermine your credibility.
Despite phones and tablets often being a source of distraction, many devices offer useful productivity apps that limit non-essential notifications, prevent you from opening certain apps, and more.
With this in mind, they can be a useful tool for creating to-do lists, setting up alarms, or even controlling smart technology in your home office.
When you’re making calls over the internet, your audio and video quality can often reflect upon your professionalism and preparedness, particularly when talking with clients or managers.
This Logitech BRIO webcam is great for capturing smooth, high-definition video. If you can sacrifice video quality to save yourself a few dollars, the Logitech C920 still captures 1080p video and even has a built-in microphone.
To ensure crisp, defined audio quality on your calls, this USB microphone is designed for streamers and voice artists and will make sure you’re clearly understood by call participants.
Working from home gives you the perfect opportunity to customize your space in a way that helps your creativity and productivity.
However, your home office is still your place of work, and it’s important that you maintain a tidy and professional space.
When you’re planning out your space, you need to consider what background the people you do video conferences with are going to see when you’re on a video call.
You’ll want to make sure that whatever is behind you is minimally cluttered, tidy, and professional. A plain wall is a great choice for a backdrop, as are bookshelves, plants, or even a window with stylish curtains.
Not everyone has the space to set aside a whole room as a home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a professional space out of an unused closet, corner, or hallway.
As long as you’ve got space to fit a desk, you’ve got space for a home office.
When you’re working with a small space for your home office, it’s worth considering how much space you reasonably need to get your work done comfortably.
If you only work with a laptop, you might find you can work comfortably at your kitchen table. Or, if you want a purpose-built space to work in, many homes often have unused space under the stairs, at the top of the stairs, or even in closets that can be repurposed as a home office.
A home office setup can also double as a reading nook, homework center, gaming station, or anything else your imagination desires.
If you have children, a small home office space can become a study center for them to complete their homework or exam prep while still being around the family. You could also use your home office as a crafting desk outside of work hours.
However, you should also take care to create a barrier between your work and your home life by clearing away any work materials before repurposing the space.
Even if you’re working from home, you might still have to meet with clients, managers, or colleagues in your home office.
When you’re planning to receive visitors to your office, it’s worth considering your relationship with them and what kind of business you conduct.
Colleagues may be more forgiving of the mess they have to walk past to reach your home office, but for clients, this can come across as unprofessional.
If you have visits from other people, the appearance of professionalism within your home office can make or break your success in your business.
If you’re going to have visitors in your home office, you’ll want to ensure they have somewhere to sit comfortably while you meet with them.
A good rule of thumb is to have one chair for every visitor you plan on having at a time, plus one. Planning for extraneous circumstances will set you up for success, as visitors to your office will see you as well-prepared and considerate.
If you offer appointments, you’ll also have to consider where your clients will go while waiting for their appointment slot.
Most clients will understand if they have to wait in their car, but if you have space, offering a waiting area can be a great way to demonstrate your professionalism and consideration towards your guests.
It’s important to note that visitors may feel uncomfortable waiting for their appointment in your home, so depending on the business you conduct, a waiting area might not be appropriate for your home office.
If you don’t have a dedicated home office space or your home office is part of a larger room in your house, you can still entertain clients by keeping the space you use clean and presentable.
Kitchen tables can make for a great meeting space, providing other house members understand not to disturb you, and your space is clean and free of clutter.
It might sound surprising, but your choices of furnishings, decor, and even the arrangement of your home office can actually influence your mindset.
If your work depends on you meeting targets and completing tasks on time, you can design your home office in a way that keeps your productivity flowing.
Whiteboards, chalkboards, or even just space to put up sticky notes can help you keep track of tasks throughout the day and gives you the satisfaction of checking off tasks as they’re completed.
Plus, if you find yourself getting distracted by thoughts of things you need to do around the house, you can write them down to get them out of your head so you can concentrate on your workday.
A recent survey found that 25% of an employee’s day is wasted searching for information, making it vital to keep important documents nearby.
Keeping documents organized with storage solutions like bookshelves and filing cabinets can cut down the amount of clutter you have on your desk, and drastically reduce the amount of time you spend searching for important documents.
Creativity can feel like a fickle thing, but studies have shown that there are various ways that design can boost creativity, particularly within an office environment.
Multiple studies have shown that the colour green can help to boost productivity and creativity, while promoting a sense of calm and comfort. Green is a fantastic accent colour for any wall when combined with neutral colours, and can create a space that has a splash of colour without being overpowering.
Incorporating plants into your home has also been shown to make people happier and feel more relaxed, making them a great item to include in your home office to boost your creativity.
Mounting a bulletin board above your desk is a great solution for creatives to keep inspiring things within your eyeline.
Having a physical mood board with inspiring quotes, images, and representations of your idea can help keep the creative juices flowing.
Office work can be a significant source of stress, but having a home office gives you the freedom to make your workday as stress-free as possible.
If you’re the type of person who forgets to take breaks and regularly works overtime, keeping a clock in your eyeline can remind you to keep track of your workday and take breaks when you’re getting overwhelmed.
Whether your home office is a whole room or a desk in your kitchen, having space to incorporate movement into your day can reduce work-related stress.
Not only can exercise improve your concentration and enhance your creativity, but regular exercise reduces stress and anxiety. So, keeping a yoga mat, exercise ball, or a kettlebell in your home office can help you destress on your lunch break as well as work towards your fitness goals.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer as to whether personalizing your home office can set you up for success.
Personalisation could come at the expense of professional success, particularly if you work in a profession where you are expected to have a tidy, no-nonsense office.
For instance, psychologists often design their space around their client’s comfort, and lawyers may be expected to maintain a sparse, professional environment.
Over-personalisation of these spaces may come across as excessive, inappropriate, and unprofessional, which can negatively impact your reputation.
Meanwhile, if you’re an artist, developer, or other creative professional, personalising your space is often expected.
Visitors to creative office spaces understand that creatives will often have personal items on their desk, inspirational artwork, and other items that help them with their creative process.
If you’re determined to personalize your home office while keeping your space looking polished and professional, there are plenty of ways you can inject elements of your personality into your decor.
Well-maintained houseplants are stylish and add a touch of comfort to any space, and you can choose plant varieties depending on colour, size, and how much time you want to spend taking care of them.
A tidy bookshelf can make you look sophisticated and educated, and you can showcase your favourite books or work-related reads.
Simple framed quotes that inspire you and reflect your values can make your home office feel more personal, and keeping them in your eyeline can help drive your goals and even add to your success.
When you’re setting up a home office for success, there are many factors that you need to take into consideration. Your profession, whether you’ll be inviting visitors into your home, and the amount of space you have available should all inform your design.
A home office can be a fantastic tool in your success toolkit, but only when its design works to enhance your business and your goals.