Working from home has become the norm for many people during these times. Prior to Covid-19 you may have had a dedicated home office space or maybe you found yourself paying bills and answering work emails from your sofa. But now things have changed. Many people are now working from home and although it is temporary for some it looks like a lot of businesses are going to be moving their workforce to remote working on a more permanent basis. Finding yourself working from home means that it is likely a good idea for you to spruce up your home office design. This isn’t only for aesthetic purposes but for productivity improvements as well. When you walk into your workspace what is your initial feeling? Do you enjoy it? If not… let’s fix it! You can make minimal or extensive changes to your home office design to improve it. Some changes you should make to your home office design are purely functional and some are aesthetic. Both are important and both will help to improve productivity, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase efficiency.
Separating your workspace from your “home life” can improve your ability to focus and concentrate on your work without getting distracted by household tasks. Conversely, it will also allow you to separate yourself from your work when it is time to relax and unwind from the day. Now more than ever we need to pay attention to our mental health and disconnecting from the computer and your zoom calls can be critical to that.
If you are sitting in a chair and looking at your computer for much of the day, ergonomics are important. Though you might often hear the word, not everyone really knows what it means. Ergonomics involves designing and organizing things so that people can utilize them safely and efficiently. Your workplace needs to be comfortable and designed with ergonomic intention.
Seating: When seated at your desk area, your elbows should form a 90 degree angle when your hands are placed on your keyboard. The height of your chair should be such that your legs are bent at a 90 degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor. If your feet are struggling to reach the floor, you should consider adding a footrest to allow for proper alignment.
Computer Height: Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away from you. This can be adjusted based on monitor size. I, for example, have an extremely large monitor to facilitate floor plan drawings, renderings, and virtual design/edesign plans and my monitor must sit farther from me. The monitor should also sit just slightly below eye level. If your monitor is too low many of them are adjustable. If yours isn’t adjustable, consider adding something sturdy underneath to raise it to a better height.
This is something that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Lighting is very important in a home office for a variety of reasons. It has a big impact on human performance. Research has shown that the color temperature of your lights can influence both your concentration and creativity. Cooler toned lights (4500-6000K), for example, enhance your concentration while warmer toned lights (3000K) boost creativity.
Natural light is also very important for the human psyche and this holds especially true as we head into the cooler and darker months. Having access to natural light in your workspace is ideal. If you have a small window, try accentuating the available light by having the room painted a light color with some reflective qualities such as provided by an eggshell paint finish. You can also add a strategically placed mirror to help bounce the light around the room.
Poor lighting in your workspace can have a negative impact on not only your work performance but also your overall mental health. It can strain your eyes, increase your mental fatigue, and also make you more susceptible to mental health concerns such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Think about what you need most from your workspace and the best methods to accomplish your goals. Your home office design layout is important. Do you need more filing storage? How can you organize your desk surface so that the items you use most are conveniently placed yet not in the way? What about your cable management? This is often a problem for people and is not only unsightly, the chaos of the cables can create stress and anxiety in certain people. Take the time to unplug and unwind all of the cables. Label them so you can easily ascertain what cable belongs to what item in case you need to unplug or replace (make sure to replace any frayed or damaged cables). Use zip ties or magnetic cable ties to neatly reorganize the cables. Secure them to the side of the desk closest to the wall/outlet and have them inconspicuously run down the leg of the desk. Just remember to be extra cautious with your cables as they can be a fire hazard. Keep flammable items away from the outlets and take care not to bend your cables or put too much stress on them.
A small and relatively inexpensive DIY project is to change the paint. Consider what colors make you happy but also mesh well with the items already in your office. Keep the color light and bright to increase productivity as mentioned before. If you are selecting your paint colors without the assistance of an expert, make sure you swatch them on your walls as paint cards are not reliable.
Find art that you love and that brings you joy and hang that in your office where you can admire its beauty. Make sure it is the appropriate size for your space. If you have some great photos of your friends, family, travels, etc. make a gallery wall of all of the images that bring you the most joy. Or find a large statement piece of art that creates a lot of impact.
Reimagining your home office can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be if you look at and implement each of the above items. Remember to think about what you need from your WFH space and how it can best be organized to fit your particular needs. Your office should be beautiful yet functional.