Make WFH a joy with our 30 tips to creating the ultimate home office, no matter what space you’re working with
There are three letters that have become increasingly familiar to everyone over the last year – WFH. Whether it’s a little corner of the dining table, a nook under the stairs or an entire room, the work-from-home office has been well and truly test-driven. Here are 30 tips to ensure your set-up is allowing you to work at your most productive.
Creating a home office space that encourages work starts with choosing the right space.
1. Consider what you need from your office space. If peace and quiet is a top priority, a separate room or a corner in a less frequently used room is where you should set up camp. If you need to keep an eye on small children, you may need your workspace near a communal family area, in which case a cupboard office or an office nook might be for you. If you’re small on space, look to set up your office in a corner of the living room, or as a last resort, your bedroom.
2. It’s important to separate your personal life from your work life when working from home – to make it easier to ‘switch off’. It’s generally recommended that your office is kept out of your bedroom and out of direct sight of the TV.
3. If you do end up setting up your office in your bedroom, have the desk facing away from the bed and use furniture to define the different zones. Try a screen divider, bookcase or set of shelves. This will help you to separate the ‘relaxation’ space from the ‘work’ space.
4. Think of your office space in terms of a kitchen. In other words, create a triangle of productivity. For example, if your printer, computer and bookshelf are all elements you use daily, have these close to your desk so you’re not having to get up and walk every time you need to access them.
Channelling your inner Marie Kondo to create a home office space that’s free of clutter will also help to give you a clear mind for work. And although you might not be able to ditch everything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ in an office scenario, efficient and stylish storage solutions will keep those office items that don’t necessarily ‘spark joy’, but are essential business tools, out of the way until you need them.
5. Tuck some drawers – you can also use bedside tables – underneath your desk as a clever way to maximise both space and storage.
6. Open shelving is a great option for storage in a small space. These will allow you to store items away from the desk without having to take up valuable space.
7. Utilise a stylish trolley or bar cart to store office essentials and knick-knacks. This is particularly useful if your home office is set up in a communal living or dining area and you need to clear the space when guests are around – simply roll your office storage into another room.
8. Baskets and boxes offer tidy solutions to keeping little bits and bobs from sprawling over the office space. This is especially true of your desk surface. Find an elegant bamboo or wooden box to hold your day-to-day work essentials in to prevent your desk from overcrowding.
Much like a good Instagram shot, lighting is a top priority. Proper lighting will reduce eye strain and headaches, help to lift your mood, and put you in a good frame of mind for productive work.
9. Allow as much natural light to flow into your home office as possible. Embracing natural light will improve energy levels. Keep notice of where the sun will be during the day – you don’t want to have golden rays shining directly into your eyes at any point.
10. If you’re going to position your desk facing a window, look at getting sheer curtains or blinds installed too. These will diffuse the amount of sunlight that comes in (so you don’t have to squint at your screen), while maintaining the look and feel of natural light filtering into the room.
11. Well distributed, diffused light will reduce eye strain and glare on your computer monitor. The best way to get this is with overhead lighting or with an up-shining floor lamp that will bounce light off the ceilings and walls.
12. Table lamps and lampshades are great for task lighting in an office. Set up your lamp to eliminate shadows across your work surface. For example, if you are right-handed, placing a lamp on the right-hand side of your desk will cause your arm to cast shadows over your work when writing, therefore, place the lamp on the opposite side or further away to diffuse the light.
If there’s one thing that’s going to help your efficiency and productivity in your home office, it’s technology that makes your work easy to get done.
13. One word – wireless. Whether it’s your mouse, keyboard, or both, going wireless not only provides a desktop free of cords but also allows you greater freedom to move around and work in different areas, should you need to.
14. A monitor – or two. If you’re working from home, a monitor or larger computer screen will improve productivity. It’s better for your eyes,
your posture and gives you more space for work. If you can accommodate it, two screens is even better.
15. If a monitor is not practical for your home office and you’re strictly a laptop user, invest in a laptop stand (or use a stack of magazines) to elevate your screen to eye level. If you do this, you’ll need to connect your laptop to a wireless mouse and keyboard to be able to work without holding your arms suspended in the air.
16. You should always design your home office with your tech needs in mind. For example, when you’re positioning your desk in the space, think about how you will run cords to a power socket in the safest way possible and whether you’ll need a power bank or an extension cord.
A comfortable working environment equals higher productivity. It’s as easy as that.
17. Before setting up your ergonomic workspace, you will need to start with a blank slate, which means a major de-clutter. When you’re adding things back in, think about what you need immediately on hand and place these items in reaching distance. Then, create zones for your other items and store them as such.
18. Your desk should be deep enough for your computer screen to sit an arms-length away and high enough for your legs to fit comfortably underneath.
19. Your chair should have proper
back support and be high or low enough for your feet to be flat on the floor (or on a foot stand).
20. Check your posture. Your chin should be parallel to the floor, shoulders should be even and knees bent at 90 degrees when sitting. Your elbows and underarms should lie straight on the desktop or the armrests of your chair with a 90-110-degree angle at the elbow. Your eyes should be equal to the top of your computer screen.
21. Before heading out to buy office furniture, first measure your home office space to get a rough idea of what size furniture you are looking for. Then, take your measuring tape with you when you shop. That way, you can triple check that the chair you’re buying will fit under the desk you want, and more importantly, they are the correct heights for you to be comfortable while working.
Once you’ve got all the functional elements taken care of, make sure your office is a place you want to be in by styling it with your favourite things.
22. Art on the walls. Not only does art bring in colour, personality and style, but it will give your eyes somewhere to rest when you’re
staring off into the distance waiting
for inspiration to come.
23. Plants. People tend to feel happier and spend longer in spaces where biophilic design is prominent (when nature is incorporated to building design), and the easiest way to do this at home is through indoor plants. It’s also been found that having greenery in the office helps to replenish our attention capacity and encourage creativity.
24. Stationery. This is your party, so you do what you want to. If that means going bold and graphic, or natural and organic, that’s up to you. Fun stationery that stamps your style in your workspace is a great way to make you feel happy about doing the mahi.
25. Objects of interest. Add your personality to the space by incorporating little decor items, candles, vases of flowers, a special mug, or family photos.
Always working in the background, colour plays a part in how we feel and work in our homes.
26. Green, blue and yellow are all believed to inspire focus, optimism, efficiency and creativity – essential elements conducive to a productive environment.
27. If you need to define an office area within a larger open-plan space, paint the walls a different colour around your desk. It could be as simple as a partial feature wall, or if you feel like getting creative, try your hand at a mural (see page 118).
28. Adding colour to your office isn’t limited to just paint. You can also add these colours through art, cushions, plant pots and stationery.
There’s nothing like a daily routine to help get you ready for work and this shouldn’t change when you’re WFH.
29. Set clear boundaries for what you do while ‘at work’ when you’re at your home office. This might mean you’ve got a set of ‘work clothes’ that you get changed into when you’re WFH (it can be a power suit if that’s what helps you to be more productive, but comfy loungewear is also more than appropriate).
30. Shut off at the end of the day. It can be harder to switch off when you’re already at home. When you’re done for the day, turn your computer off, switch your office lights off, change out of your ‘work attire’ and do something that helps you to relax.
Words by: Bea Taylor. Photography by: Are Media.