Rolling out of bed and taking a 10-second commute to the ‘office’ might have been your dream at the beginning of the year. But now it’s become the forced norm for a lot of us, the reality of mixing work life with home might not be living up to expectations.
Apart from the distractions of kids and pets, one of the main challenges for home office workers has been around creating a functional and comfortable space that makes working from home enjoyable.
In this blog, we share some ideas to help you combine home and office space.
Create a permanent workspace
To work from home, most of us need little more than a laptop, a surface to put it on and somewhere to sit. But working on the sofa or at the kitchen table, surrounded by the dirty washing up isn’t the best solution long-term. So, setting up a permanent home office workspace is essential.
And you don’t need to convert an entire room to do it. So, if you don’t have a spare room, don’t despair. All you really need is a small area that’s at least 1-metre square.
Look around your house for a space that’s not being used, or somewhere you could make available by clearing a few things out or shifting some furniture around. It could be a recess under your stairs, an unused corner of a room or a walk-in wardrobe.
Photo Credit: Amberth
If possible, choose a space with plenty of natural light. But if that’s not possible, paint the walls in a light colour and hang a mirror in a position where it will reflect natural light onto your desk. Also, accessorise the space with some pops of colour and add a desk lamp with a full spectrum bulb to ensure it’s well lit.
Finally, ensure your new home office is cleared of any clutter that will distract you and destroy your productivity.
Separate work from home
The best way to separate work and home is to have a workspace you can shut the door on. It helps to block out the call of home life that can be distracting while you’re working. But it also helps you both physically and mentally ‘shut the door’ on work at the end of the day.
But if that’s not possible, and your home office is in a room you use for home too, try using room dividers to separate the spaces. These can be folding screens, shelving units (which are also handy for storage), or even large potted plants.
If you don’t have enough space for room dividers, shut work out at the end of the day by tidying everything work-related away. Pack it into drawers and cupboards, so it’s not a constant reminder.
Photo Credit: Kreis Design
Get your desk set up
When it comes to desks, there’s so much choice available in terms of size, materials, colours and designs.
If space isn’t an issue, a traditional sized desk is ideal. Pick a style that complements the rest of your furniture and décor, so it looks like it belongs in the room instead of being an awkward ‘add-on’.
If you don’t have much space, there are plenty of small desks available. And think about the material too. If you want to keep your desk discreet, you can get clear plastic or glass desks which don’t take up much space and blend into the background.
If the space you have available for your home office is minimal, you don’t have to add a conventional desk at all. A floating shelf or a shelf that folds down and can be tucked away when you’re not using it will do the job just as well.
For handy storage, choose a desk with drawers. Or, if you’re going with the small desk or floating shelf option, fix some shelves to the wall above it. You can also add storage baskets to store bits and bobs that don’t stack neatly on a shelf. They’ll keep the space tidy and can look very stylish too.
Photo Credit: Amberth
Use laptop stands or screen mounts
If you’re going to be sat staring at a screen all day, you must sit correctly, because poor posture can lead to chronic back and neck strain.
Ideally, the top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes. So, a laptop sat directly on your desk is far too low and you’ll find yourself crouching over it. A laptop stand can help.
Laptop stands sit on top of your desk and raise the height and angle of your laptop. There are fixed stands or adjustable stands. Adjustable stands are the best choice because they allow you to get the height and angle exactly right for you. Depending on the type of stand you buy, you may also need to purchase a separate keyboard and mouse to ensure your arms are in the right position.
If you’re using a desktop computer, the same principle applies. So, if you find that the stand your monitor comes with is too low, think about installing a screen mount. There are wall-mounted and free-standing options, as well as models that clamp onto your desk. But, the wall-mounted versions give you the most flexibility in terms of being able to adjust the height, panning, tilting and even rotating your screen from landscape to portrait. Another benefit of a wall-mounted screen mount is that they take the monitor off your desk, freeing up space for other things.
Photo Credit: Daily Remote
Create a professional backdrop for video calls
If you attend a lot of video calls for work, you’ll know it can be hard to always look professional. Having a pile of dirty laundry in the background doesn’t give the best impression.
So, when it comes to making a video call, first choose a space that has plenty of natural light if you can. Or if your call is in the evening when it’s dark, ensure the area is well lit. But make sure the light isn’t behind you because that will put you in shadow and your audience won’t be able to see you clearly.
Then remove any clutter that’s behind you. A clean, uncluttered space means your audience’s attention will be on you and not your home.
Also, think about personalising the space behind you. Make it match your personality. Try adding some interesting (but not distracting) art, some plants or a bookshelf.
Photo Credit: Elle Decoration
But if you’d like to completely hide your home from your audience, why not invest in a room divider. There are plenty of designs available, and, you could even have your own design printed onto a screen. Just be careful that whatever you choose isn’t too distracting.
If you need help incorporating a working space into your home, contact Amberth and talk to a member of our team!