This time last year, most people would have loved having the option to work from home on a regular basis due to the seemingly infinite flexibility, home comforts and lack of a commute. In March, those wishes came true for some people, and since then, COVID-19 has seen the majority of the workforce make the move to working from home. Although it seemed like the dream at one time, it’s become apparent that many homes are not equipped to serve as home offices, and this has seen lots of employees desperate to get back to the office due to lack of productivity.
If you’ve recently made the move to working from home and are struggling to maintain the same level of output as at the office, you might not be in the right environment. To try and tackle this problem, making a dedicated home office is now top of a lot of people’s agendas, but having the space and money to do it is often an issue. In addition, having the space and money to do it mean nothing if you don’t use your resources in the right way.
We’re going to explore some tips for making a home office that works in a cost-effective, realistic manner.
Top of the list is space. The most ideal option would be to use a spare room as a home office, but if you don’t have a spare room, you’ll need to look elsewhere. If you live alone you can use a corner of your living room, dining room or kitchen. If you live with other people, these communal areas might be too noisy and as such, your bedroom is the most viable solution.
If you have an outbuilding with heating and electricity, this would be more preferable to a bedroom because then you can separate sleeping/relaxing and working, but if your bedroom is the only quiet space in your house, it’s the best option.
One mistake many people make is trying to set up shop in a busy area that other people use all day. People are distractions, and whilst social interaction and breaks are important, so is having a quiet area to crack on with the job at hand. In summary, find the quietest place in the house.
The amount of space you have can severely restrict the furniture you’re able to buy, but a good rule of thumb is that if you can squeeze a desk in, do! You might not be able to fit a desk as big as the one in your work office, but you can buy desks that are little more than 60 inches wide – slightly wider than a laptop. It won’t be huge, but a desk of any size is better than no desk at all because it gives you a dedicated work station to sit at.
Next up is a chair. Office chairs can be expensive and more often than not will cost more than a desk, but it’s essential you invest in a good one. Back support is preferable to keep your posture aligned and to reduce neck and back issues further down the line, but you don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds on a top of the range ergonomic chair. If you’re working from home temporarily or only for a few days a week, a good hack is to buy a single dining chair as they are cheaper than office chairs and have a good backrest that will provide enough support. That being said, if you’re working from home all the time or for the foreseeable future, it might be a good idea to invest in a proper chair.
Once you’ve got your work area and furniture sorted, you might be thinking about décor. Offices tend to be drab and dreary, and there’s no reason why your home office should be the same. You can have photos of loved ones on your desk, invest in a nice lamp (although make sure it’s bright enough so as not to strain your eyes), place a bright rug on the floor and put a plant or two on your desk or beside it. You can buy nice desk storage and paper trays, and even buy a fancy mug that sparks a little bit of joy with every sip. Whilst it’s important not to go overboard, your home office offers the chance to be personalized, and a little bit of creativity never hurt anyone.
These are just a few tips to setting up a good home office, but they should be achievable for most people and be enough to get your mind into ‘work mode’, even though you’re at home.