Home office are one of the most in-demand home features today and continue to rise in popularity as more and more people work from home (or bring their work home!). A new report from Upwork found that nearly two-thirds of companies today have remote workers, and, according to Forbes, more and more Americans are quitting their day jobs to start their own businesses.
But creating a home office that functions well takes more than simply dragging an old desk out of the garage and pulling up a dining chair. The right elements can help you work better and more efficiently.
The right spot
You don’t always have the option of choosing the location for your home office; your place may already have a dedicated space. But if you are choosing between a few locations, consider this: “You’ll likely spend many hours in your home office, so don’t stiff yourself on space (e.g. squishing a tiny desk into a windowless closet to preserve the rarely-used guest room),” said HGTV. “Also consider traffic flow and your ability to withstand distractions. Do you work best in the thick of activity, or should your office be tucked away in a quiet space? If clients will be stopping by, a private space with ample seating is a must.”
The right privacy
Even if you’re a “keep the door open” type, having one you can close when you need to mega-concentrate or take a phone call is key to creating a functional home office. If your home doesn’t have a dedicated office space and there isn’t a bedroom you can convert, a dining room may be your best bet. Many families today don’t use their dining room, especially if they have a breakfast nook and/or an island with eating bar. Adding glass doors to the room will give you privacy without visually closing off the space.
The right chair
When you’re sitting for hours a day, you want to be comfortable. A supportive chair is worth the expense to ensure you’re not fidgety and distracted, and that you don’t end up with a back injury. “Don’t underestimate the power of a good chair,” said Forbes. “The right support, while working, can help you prevent postural problems, like back pain, later on. If you want to be trendy, you can try to use a stability ball, or if you’re interested in avoiding the problems with sitting in general, you can invest in a standing desk. In any case, you need a comfortable, healthy way to work.”
The right color
You probably don’t want to paint your home office a color that clashes with the rest of your decor, especially if it’s visible from other parts of the house. But expressing some individuality in the space can help fuel creativity and productivity. “Colors and moods are interconnected, and the psychological impact of color should be considered when interior designers work with home owners to select a color palette,” said Harrington College of Design. “When chosen with care, paint colors can enhance the atmosphere of every room in the house. Blue is a great color choice for a home office or study because it creates a soothing, relaxed and comfortable setting. Blue also helps maintain concentration, lowers your heart rate and boosts productivity.”
The right storage
Remember you can use vertical space to make up for a lack square footage and give you more storage options.
The right mix of personality
Sure, your home office is a professional place where important stuff gets done. But don’t forget to put a little “you” into it. Studies show that we work better when surrounded by things that make us happy. “Incorporate elements you love into the design,” said Glassdoor. “Most corporate offices don’t allow you to decorate your space. You might get to have a family picture at your desk, but not much else.
At home, though, you are at liberty to decorate your office any way you like.”
The right light
Lighting is essential for being able to see properly, obviously. Too little light can create eye strain and headaches, so make sure you have a good mix of overhead and task lighting. But don’t forget about the natural light.
“When putting a new desk into a home office, a lot of people kind of reflexively put it right up against the wall in the darkest corner of the room,” said Linda Varone, author of The Smarter Home Office, on Fast Company. “What they’ve inadvertently done is recreated the corporate cubicle. And who wants that? Move your desk close to the windows, but place it parallel to the panes. This ideal set-up gives you the happiness benefits of natural light, and a good reason to turn away from your computer every few minutes to take in the scene.”
The right supplies
Just like you do a regular inventory of your kitchen essentials to keep the fridge and pantry well-stocked, you want to do the same in your office. “Don’t let yourself get hung up because you ran out of printer ink or can’t find a pen,” said Small Biz Trends. “A functional office needs supplies and the proper equipment to function.”