InMoney & Career

How to Set Up Your Ultimate Home Office

12 tips on setting up the ultimate home office

Working from home has a heap of advantages, the flexibility of setting your own schedule, not having a daily commute and being able to play your music as loud (or as cringey) as you like, are just a few. But to be successful (read: productive) in a home office requires creating an office space that promotes efficiency.

Make a List of Your Home Office Requirements.

Before you claim a corner in one of your rooms and call it an office, make a detailed list of your most basic needs for a home office. It should include items you must have for your office, like a computer, desk, filing cabinet, printer, lights. If you’rea graphic designer, you might need a small desk for your computer, and scanner and a large table or workspace for your artwork. If you’re aconsultant, you might need space for several filing cabinets, and possibly an area to meet with clients. As you make yourlist, think about all the ways you plan to use your home office.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you going to be doing in the office?
  • What type of work do you need to do?
  • Will you have external clients in the space?
  • Will you have colleagues or collaborators working in the space?
  • What type of materials do you need to be able to reference, or store?
  • What type of equipment will you need?
  • Will you be making conference calls?
  • Will you be video conferencing?

Choose a Dedicated Area For Your Home Office

Once you have your critical needs list, you’ll have a good idea of how much room you need for your office. Keeping that list in mind, choose a dedicated area of your home for your office space. If you share your house with someone/some people, then you’ll want somewhere quiet with some privacy.

You’ll also want to be able to keep the non-office space in your home free from work. So that you can relax, and not be distracted by work when you should be getting ready for dinner, or relaxing before bed. If you don’t have a separate room, you can use a portable screen or divider walls that double as bookcases to divide your area and provide storage.

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Balance Workspace And Storage.

Your home office will have a limited amount of space and can often feel cramped with just a chair and a desk. However, maintaining a professional office is dependent on good organisation. This means you must plan a space that has heaps of room for both storage and plenty of space to spread out and work. You might need to get creative. You could build a desk that uses filing cabinets as the base. You might have to store your files in another room, if you do have to keep anything in another place, anything you use frequently should be easily accessible- for premium organisation, not maximum laziness (of course!)

Your desk surface will have your computer and work-related items, it will be the place where you spend the most time. Consider how you will organise your desk surface;

  • How will you store papers that are relevant to the work you are doing right now?
  • How will you store pens and other stationery?
  • What other stationery do you need?
    • Sticky notes, highlighters, markers, coloured pencils?
  • How will you store printer paper?

In this day and age, it’s easy to get organised and stay that way. But the real challenge is in finding what works best for your flow of paper and work. You may find it better to have a simple storage system for a couple of months until you work it out.

Home Office With Proper Lighting

Whenever possible, your office space should have plenty of natural light. If your office has no natural light, you’ll need access lighting. Start by having general, overhead lights that fill most of your workspace. Next, add task lighting, such as desk lamps that can give strong lighting to your specific work area. Finally, regardless of your lighting situation, make sure that your computer screen is positioned so that it prevents glare from happening, though many now haveanti-glare coatings.

The object of lighting your home office is to create balanced lighting that minimises eyes strain.

Invest In The Right Equipment.

Get started using the right equipment will get you started on the right foot. It can be tempting to skimp on vital equipment and splurge on unnecessary items (marquee lights are fun. Prob not necessary). Your money should be spent on a proper desk- one that is big enough, with enough storage. A comfortable, ergonomic chair that provides back support (you’ll be spending a long time in it, after all). A computer with efficient memory, and performance; an internet connection that has enough speed; and any other specialised tools or equipment that is key for your business. Don’t forget surge protectors!

Consider also footrests, ergonomic mouse/mice, and an excellent ergonomic keyboard. All of these often looked over items enhance your work experience and make your hours in the chair much less stressful to your body. If your work is comfortable for your body, you are at less risk for an injury like carpal tunnel.

Less Is More

Of course, you want all the equipment you need. But you’d be surprised at what you can get away without. Clutter is super distracting and can make you much less efficient. You’ll need a space for your printer paper(If you even need a printer), reference books, pens and notebooks. Put the mail in the same place every day, and have the phone in arms reach.

Working From Home GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Separate The Professional From The Personal.

When you work from home, it’s essential to keep your personal life from spilling over into your business life. Having a business bank account is a critical step in helping you prevent jumbling personal expenses with your business expenses. Try to store personal checks, records, and mail in a separate room from your office, or at least a separate drawer in your filing cabinet. You should keep your personal and private expenses and income as distinct as you possibly can, to make things easier at tax time.

Establish Office Hours

Flexibility is a significant benefit for working for yourself in a home office. But it still requires you to put in a fair amount of time. Setting a typical schedule for working will help you stay focused.

Keeping standard office hours (mostly) also helps your clients know when you’re available and can be reached. Setting office hours can also help minimise distractions and unannounced calls or drop-in visits from well-meaning friends and family.

Busy Miss Piggy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Consider an Eco-Friendly Home Office 

When you are making your home office plans, consider how you can be sustainable in your business practices. Keep your computer, printer and other office equipment turned off when you’re not there. Use power-saving features on your computer, and when it’s time to get new equipment, make sure your old stuff will be recycled.

Consider using planet-friendly materials in your furniture and stationery as well, you can get recycled glass countertops, woods from sustainable forestry and recyclable materials. Try to support local businesses where you can.

Be Creative with the Décor

The ability to freely accessorise is one of the perks of having a home office. Use elements, accessories and artwork that inspires, motivates or makes you happy. Whether you add paintings, printed quotes, vision boards (see how to make one here), or colourful stationery, injecting your own personal style into your home officedesign can make your everyday work, that much more enjoyable.

Don’t go overboard with the decoration though, use fun and functional things as much as can. Stay organised with a hanging corkboard, a calendar, or a fun pen holder. Your workspace should inspire and motivate you so that you are working to your full productive and efficient potential.

When gathering inspo for your office, remember to Pinterest responsibly. Offices in design mags are probably not set up to accommodate a40+ work week. Upholstered dining room chairs look fantastic, but they are only designed to sit on for an hour or two. Not 6 or 7 per day. Tiny vintage desks might look great with a minimal laptop set up, but they won’t take your project files, tea and a lamp, and while that fire engine red wall in that one pic looks fantastic, are you really going to be able to work well with it staring you in the face all the time? Try usingremarkable colour combo’s in your rug, throw pillows, or in your framed art.

Your office needs to be functional first and beautiful second.

Get Your Home Office Comfy

Your desk is for active work, but you might need a place to think or read as well. If you have the room, add in a nice comfy chair for curling up- possibly with an ottoman, plus a table for your tea and biscuits and a lamp to read by. A comfortable zone is one of the best things you can do yourself in your home office.

A comfy zone allows you the space to catch up on industry news, read about how to grow your business, or just take a nap once in a while.

Improve Your Home Office Air Quality

According to a study, those who work in green settings with improved air quality have higher cognitive functioning scores, compared to those who work in standard airtight environments with worse air quality. The green buildings use low emitting materials and amplify fresh air, which results in reduced VOC (volatile organic compounds) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) exposure.

In most homes, these chemicals are found to be low. But if you want to improve air quality further, there are a few small things you can do. For instance, having a few indoor plants, and regular vacuuming, using a HEPA filter and dusting with non-toxic cleaners results in better air quality. Furthermore, opening windows to let fresh air in, and using fans to improve air circulation can also really help.

When you are designing your office space, you need to make that space your own. Make sure that it reflects you and your personality and that you enjoy being there. Your office should be a connection to yourself, your spirit and your productivity. It should help you focus rather than distract, and it should be a place you want to be in.

Main Photo by Djurdjica Boskovic on Unsplash

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