While working from home is not a new concept, the “New Normal” of 2020 has made the idea a reality to millions of Americans. Many companies have already made the switch to an online workforce, with even more planning to make the change soon. For those who have found themselves working from home, the transition has not always been easy- especially for those without a home office. While simply setting up the laptop on the kitchen table can work in a pinch, a dedicated office can help you better focus and can aid in maximizing productivity. If you have been considering a home office, there is no better time than the present to make the commitment- follow these steps, and the setup could be easier than you think!
STEP ONE – LOCATION What is the best spot to put your office? While “Location, Location, Location!” might make you think of real estate, the same mantra applies to choosing the right space for your home office. Although making use of an existing empty room might be your first choice, that simply might not be an option. Converting part of a bedroom, setting aside some space in a dining room, a loft, or even using part of a well-insulated and climate-controlled garage can give you the space you need. Consider the high-traffic areas of your home and who will be using them while you work. An office near a kitchen might afford you short trips for snacks and drinks but could also mean distractions when kids or your significant other are at home. Being in a bedroom can mean having to incorporate your work schedule into the sleep cycles of whoever you share the room with. Garages, particularly if separate from the home, can mean going outdoors- even in inclement weather- to get to your office. Keep these locational factors in mind when considering any space for your office. It’s always possible tos change locations later down the line, so do not be afraid to experiment with temporary solutions to give each a “test run”.
STEP TWO – PRODUCTIVITY The point of a home office is to accomplish your work. What will you need to do be productive to get the work done? Be sure to accommodate your needs for electronics, from computers and printers to cell phone chargers. A good internet wi-fi signal or wired ethernet connection is a must! Desks give you plenty of room to work on, while also including storage to help keep your area organized. Bookshelves and storage cubes can also help store necessary items and electronics when not in use. Pens, papers, staplers, and other common office items will likely be needed.
If you lack the space for a dedicated desk, think outside of the box and come up with work bags, boxes or trays that you can move around the house with you. While a comfortable chair and desk can make the workday a breeze, sometimes it helps to stretch out on the couch and complete your task for the day as comfortably as possible. Seating should be sturdy and comfortable, offering good support and some ventilation for long hours. Standing desks are also an option.
STEP THREE – LIGHTING Pay attention to the lighting – both natural light and lighting fixtures. A dark space can impact your level of productivity. Look for cool lighting to help keep you alert and productive. Sunlight is a great source of natural light, so consider placing your workspace in an area with a window or skylight. Install curtains or blinds to help block outdoor distractions. Regardless of natural lighting, be sure to include desk and floor lamps to help when the weather gets gray and rainy, or you find yourself burning the midnight oil.
STEP FOUR – PERSONAL TOUCHES Covering the basics should always be your priority when putting together a home office, but it’s also fun to add a little personal flair to your space. Because you have much more freedom with your home office than you would in an office building, be sure to exercise your creativity. Plants and pictures might be standard office fare, but do not be afraid to experiment with painting the walls or adding speakers to play background music, while a fun rug can give jazz the space up or give it a cozy feel.
Home offices do not need to be extraordinary to be an effective or enjoyable place to work! Take advantage of the freedom afforded in working from home to give yourself the best possible place to get your job done. Find a peaceful location, fill it with the tools you need to be productive, turn on the lights, give it a little bit of personality and get to work- in the end, you might just find yourself spending time in your home office, even after-hours!