News - 14.12.17
7 tips for designing a home office for maximum productivity
When working from home, it is always best if your surroundings are built and organised in accordance with whatever makes you work best. Indeed, you can create a home office that accommodates your routine, saves you time, promotes your work ethic, makes you work better and creates a sense of comfort. After all, what is the point of designing a home office that reflects the monotony of conventional working life? Make your office a room in which you actively want to spend time, rather than one you tolerate because you have to work in it.
In this post, we’ll be outlining some suggestions as to how you can maximise productivity by designing a home office that suits your individual working requirements. We hope that these practical tips help to improve your own productivity when working from home, and get you started with the design or refurbishment of your own functional home office.
The lighting in your home office will have an effect on the way you work and how you feel. Lighting that is too dim or badly positioned gives the room a negative atmosphere that makes you feel unmotivated and unhappy, and has the potential to cause fatigue and eyestrain.
Alternatively, you could transform your home office into a haven of great lighting that boosts your mood. Natural lighting helps make your study feel less like a corporate cubicle – as well as being good for your health, it has been proven to bolster workplace performance. You should aim to build your home office in a space that enjoys a nice dose of sun, and your desk should be positioned close to the window (but not so close that the sun will be in your eyes).
You may also want to experiment with artificial lighting to make your home office warm and focussed when the sun goes down. Task lighting (such as lamps or spot lights) can provide a concentrated glow where needed, although make sure to direct the light away from your line of sight to avoid straining and squinting. Likewise, do not point lights at your computer screen as this will cause a distracting glare. Keep an eye out for dimmer switches for your overhead lights as you want to avoid having harsh lighting while your work. Warm lighting is a lot easier on the eyes and has been recommended for office settings by regulatory bodies.
Using a home office with the perfect furniture makes all the difference to your comfort and focus. It’s important to ensure that you have the best possible desk and chair for your height and build, so run through all the ergonomic checks as you shop around (make sure you test the furniture out before purchasing it). Get the chair right and your work will flow like never before. The best chairs on the market are built with lumbar support and a great deal of movability, reducing the chance of back pain as you work.
When your furniture is in place, you should be readjusting each piece to achieve the most ergonomic configuration possible. Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen, with around 30 inches between them too. Your feet should rest flat on the floor as you sit and your arms should be parallel to the floor as your type. Looking for a quick fix to balance these out? Just use pillows on your chair or use a laptop lift under your computer to achieve the right measurements.
To break the pattern of monotony, consider adding separate spaces within your home office. This has the benefit of offering you a welcome change of scene without having to leave the office and potentially get distracted. An easy way to divide up the study while making the most of all available space is to use something functional like a bookcase.
When looking to attain maximum productivity with your home office layout, have a think about the functions you perform that require more than a simple desk. If you often have meetings then you may need a space at which to sit and exchange ideas, perhaps positioned near a display monitor or whiteboard for presentations. If you’d prefer a separate space for printing and copying, then maybe you could use a small hub or a cupboard for these activities. If you like to take thinking breaks (or even naps), design a comfy retreat with a lounge chair or a sofa, and perhaps some coffee making facilities to get you started again.
For you to work well, your equipment needs to work well too. Having reliable and functional equipment will save time on solving problems and replacing defective goods, so invest in the best equipment you can afford. This also gives you some peace of mind, eliminating the stress of coping with poor equipment every day – you want a computer and a telephone that you can rely on! Here are some quick design tips to help make your home office more efficient through equipment:
- Stay on top of your wire management. Try hiding and compartmentalising the wires behind your desk along your walls.
- Have all stationary within easy reach at your desk in a way that isn’t cluttered – organise them with desk caddies, pen cups and trays.
- Install a whiteboard if you need a place to quickly store fleeting thoughts and ideas, or perhaps a handy to-do that you simply cannot forget about.
- Don’t bother filling your home office with equipment that won’t be used, as this just takes up valuable space and wastes money where it could be spent on more functional items.
- Make sure there are enough plug sockets in the room before you start building your home office, as they can be a pain to install after the fact.
There’s nothing worse than trying to work while surrounded by distractions, but luckily you can curb this problem at the design stage. The location of your office within the house will determine how likely you are to get distracted: how tempted you will be to wander into the kitchen or living room, how close you are to noises out on the street, or how likely it is that your kids will wander in during important moments. You should aim to situate your home office in a quiet place – the place furthest from those daily distractions in and around your house.
The design and contents of your study can also contribute to distractions. You should avoid installing a screen connected to the TV as this will prove too tempting in moments of boredom. The same applies to everyday distractions like magazines and books. Remember, just because your study is a part of your home doesn’t mean it should be more relaxed than any other office. It is still a space for working and concentrating, even if your bedroom is down the hall!
There is certainly a correlation between the colours in your space and specific mental states, brain functions, moods and thoughts. For instance, an office painted with a loud shade of red would make it difficult to concentrate and relax – it should probably be used only as an accent. Some colours have proven more conducive to productivity than others, though what these colours are for you is a subjective matter.
Think: are there any specific colours that inspire you, put you at ease, make you feel creative and motivated? Ultimately, you will know how certain colours make you feel, just remember to consider the effect these colours have and not just your preference for them. You’re designing a functional office that helps you work, not a statement bedroom that reflects your personal taste.
The design of your home office should be conducive to easy cleaning and organisation, as this saves you a lot of time spent tidying up. As such, efficient storage solutions will make your space altogether more functional (which in turn makes you more productive). For the most part, this is quite simple to figure out. Consider the following suggestions:
- Book shelves and magazine racks that help keep certain documents in mind
- Filing cabinets in cupboards and nooks where other items would not fit.
- Desk organisers that stop your space flooding with paperwork.
- Wastepaper bins within reach of your desk.
- Furniture that doubles as storage.
For help with planning and designing your functional home office, get in touch with a member of the Burnhill Kitchens team and we’ll be delighted to help.