Tried and True Home Office Design Tips
How many hours per week do you spend in your home office?
When I think of the “olden days” before remote work was the norm, the first thing that comes to mind are the offensively bright office lights. Their crudeness was bereft of any inspirational beauty, and the monotony of their design only accentuated the endless rows along the ceiling. In exchange for utilitarianism, many modern offices had given up the human need for artistry.
When the transition to working from home happened in March 2020, I jumped at the chance to create the workspace where I would spent 40 hours of my life every week. Since then there have been several major overhauls to decrease distractions and increase efficiency, with some nuggets of experience picked up along the way.
Without further ado, here are a few of my favourite tips for winning the home office game:
Location, Location, Location
Just like real estate, location is the most important aspect of this deal. Some people work from a separate room with a door that closes while others work from their basement or from their kitchen table. This is going to depend on your needs and lifestyle (perhaps you have small children who cannot be left unattended for long), so it’s important to be honest with yourself about potential distractions or your ability to procrastinate.
Things to consider: noise levels, lighting, shared walls with neighbours, potential smells (don’t set up shop downwind of the litter box – trust me on this one), distance from the bathroom, etc.
Do a Walk-Through
Prior to setting up my home office, I did a walk-through of the room to see where the energy flowed best (a classic game of “here or there?” that my husband thankfully likes to entertain.) If you’re like me and keep a record player or stereo in the office for light music throughout the day, move it around the room to see where the acoustics work.
Let There Be Light
This is arguably the most significant aspect of building a home office, after its location. Our brains and our eyes need sunlight to activate countless functions and processes of the body, so to be at your best, try positioning your workspace towards a window – preferably in a way that your screen doesn’t get directly doused in sunlight – and add some floor or desk lamps to the room to avoid additional eye strain.
If you are able to paint your walls, go for something soft, light, and cheerful rather than something dark; it will open up the room and keep things bright.
Invest In Good Furniture
They will have to invent HTML code that is stronger than < strong >, because this one cannot be emphasized enough. The time and energy spent investing in a well-made desk and chair is well worth it. The desk I currently use is the perfect height and width for me and has a V-shelf on the back side where I place my agendas, phone, and books. Find the right design for you and your work, whether it’s L-shaped or whether it comes with cabinets for additional storage for paperwork.
Even more important than the desk might be the chair, and it all comes back to the hours spent in the saddle, so to speak. At the end of a 40-hour workweek, how does your neck, back, or spine feel? Do your wrists, hips, or ankles carry any dull pain? If so, it might be time to consider a more ergonomic chair for yourself.
Clear the Air
This often gets overlooked, but a plant or two can go a long way in any space. Not only do plants do an incredible job of adding oxygen to a room and clearing the air, they also look adorable and give our eyes something natural to look at after being subjected to a blue-lit screen for a long time.
In addition to plants, it is worth investing in an air purifier. A recent study found that indoor air quality can be up to 93% worse than the outdoors, which is quite mind-boggling. There are some stylish new air purifiers on the market designed specifically for the increase in remote workers, and they are an excellent way to remove dust, mold, and other allergens from the air. The room will smell better and your lungs will feel better, too!
Add Your Trademark
Yes, yours! No longer are we in the days of sterile office design and empty white walls (unless that’s your thing, of course – no judgment!) Your home office is your space to be creative and to inject happiness into the everyday. What brings you joy? What makes you excited about your life? Bring that energy into your office, whether it’s a painting, a cool bookshelf, funky curtains, or a beautiful rug that adds warmth and dimension to the room.
(For me, it’s vintage travel posters from the ocean liner era – the sweeping Art Deco ships invoke a kind of sweet nostalgia that makes me smile.)
Hide the Wires
A quick way to ruin the ambiance of a home office is a rat’s nest of wires in plain sight, but luckily there are plenty of solutions for that! Besides going wireless with devices such as a mouse or a printer, you can also tame runaway and unruly wires by tucking them along the wall or attaching them to the underside of your desk – or even down one of the legs. There are also cord organizers you can purchase at the hardware store or on Amazon for $10-15 to sort out any pile-ups at your feet or by the outlet!
The world of clever and quirky office organization has grown immeasurably since March 2020, so if you’re spending hours upon hours in one room, it’s a world that is absolutely worth exploring. As the wise old German boss from my high school job once said, “work smart, Petra – not hard!”