The 8 Most Important Do’s and Don’ts of Home Office Design Everyone Working from Home Should Know
The Office of National Statistics reported that 49.2% of those employed were working from home in April. COVID-19 was, of course, the driving factor. In the first couple of months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all felt confused and frightened. Our routines got disrupted and we had to figure out how to work from home, minimize social interactions, and help our kids transition to distance learning.
We’ve all seen Tweets and Instagram posts of people improvising workstations, from using a laundry basket as a computer desk, to hacking kitchen counter space. Now that we’ve had quite some time living this new reality, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the way we work has undergone a profound shift. Many companies – Adobe, Capital One, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. – have announced that either most or all of their offices will be switching to remote working indefinitely.
It is, therefore, time to prioritise setting up a proper home office on our to-do lists. In today’s article, you will find some crucial do’s and don’ts of home office design. Our tips can be implemented on any budget and irrespective of whether you have a dedicated room in your house for the office. They will help you get into a healthier and more productive routine, so pay attention.
1. DO start your home office setup with the right lighting
Whether you have a separate room in your house dedicated to the home office, or you are improvising one in your living room, start your setup by ensuring proper lighting. We perceive about 85% of the information around us through sight. Incorrect lighting tends to lead to fatigue and headaches, not to mention the long-term effects of reduced eyesight.
So which light is best suited for working? That’s right, it’s natural daylight. If you have the option of moving your desk in front of or next to the window, that would be ideal, of course. Make sure you are sitting either next to the window or facing it to reduce glares. Don’t worry, though. If you do not have that option or you tend to work late at nights, here’s what you can do:
Go for diffused ambient lighting – a floor lamp or overhead lighting, for example. If your ceiling lights are too bright, we recommend replacing them with softer ones with lower wattage or, at least, unscrewing one or two of the lightbulbs. Go for the lightbulbs that have a bit of a blue hue in them as they more closely resemble daylight.
Set up task lighting to further brighten your workspace. However, do not focus the light directly on your laptop. Have it on your desk and direct it to the side. That way you avoid those annoying glares. Keep in mind that a task light on its own is not sufficient as it will create too much of a contrast, which will be straining on your eyes. That’s why you need the diffused ambient lighting as your base coat.
2. DO pay attention to your posture
You know how they say, “sitting is the smoking of the 21st century?” Well, unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that saying. Neck and back pains are just the beginning of potential health problems due to poor posture. When picking a chair, focus on the lower back support. If you don’t want to buy an ergonomic chair, do, at least, invest in a lumbar support pillow.
Elevate your computer screen. When you are sitting up straight, the screen should be at your eye level. Therefore, either pick out a desk with an elevated shelf or simply add a monitor stand to your current desk. Such elevation will minimize the need to lower your neck to look at the screen, making it easier to sit up straight.
3. DO create a tidy system for your cables
Eliminate distractions and tripping hazards. Use the outlets in your space strategically. Think of the chords that are always plugged in and are rarely moved – your desktop computer’s power cord, for example – and use decorative tape to adhere them to the wall or to the legs of your desk.
Think of your routine and habits. Do you like to keep your phone on the right side, for instance? Then make sure the phone charger is located there. There are hundreds of cord organisers you can order online – they are super cheap, useful, and will elevate the design of your space.
4. DON’T just stack up papers on your desk. Create an organisational system
Work can be stressful: your vendors are behind on shipments, your boss keeps raising the revenue targets, your team is demotivated – you name it. However, much of the stress is also added by us and is done so subconsciously. Struggling to find the right invoice in the stack of papers or spilling your tea on a signed contract create unnecessary and completely avoidable tension.
Invest in an organisational system for your desk. It can be a filing cabinet, a set of drawers, a set of letter trays. It can be a box that your kids decorate with stickers, as long as it has separate sections for different types of documents and office supplies. Scientific research has unequivocally proven the adverse effects of clutter, which include stress and anxiety. The impact of the negative effects of clutter only increases with age. You are also more likely to procrastinate if your desk is unorganised.
5. DO add house plants to your office space
In one of our earlier articles, we’ve discussed the numerous benefits of plants on our physical and mental health. In a nutshell, they can remove up to 87% of air toxins, lower blood pressure, alleviate stress, and increase attentiveness.
“But I’m not a plant person! They just die on me!” We hear you. Perhaps you were picking the wrong plants. Check out this article where we give a breakdown of plants that don’t require much sunlight.
If you want low-maintenance plants because watering them every day and buying special fertilizers is just not something you want or can do, there are plenty of indoor plants that will survive neglectful ownership – a snake plant, jade, asparagus fern, Chinese money plant, aloe, and others.
6. DON’T miss out on the chance to spruce up your walls
If you have a separate room for your home office, it might be time to repaint. This is the easiest and cheapest way to give your space a fresh look and can be done in a single weekend.
A study found that bland grey, beige, and white office walls induce feelings of sadness and depression. Colours can have a profound impact on how we feel and work – whether we feel energized, distracted, focused, or irritated. So, what are the best colours for your workspace? Green and calm blue improve our focus. These are calming colours that we associate with nature. Yellow sparks creative thinking and innovation as well as gives a boost of energy.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to paint the entire room in a bright green colour. Just having an accent wall will do the trick.
7. DO add items that make you happy
Do you keep a picture of your children on your desk in the regular office? Perhaps you have a souvenir you got on your last vacation or a custom drawing of your dog. Whatever it is, add it to your home office. Such small elements play an important role in helping us alleviate stress.
A study in 1990 of three British corporations found that banning such personalised items resulted in lower productivity and employee apathy.
8. DON’T forget about the background
While Zoom and other conferencing software offer the option of a virtual background, don’t depend on them. Make sure your background is organised and appropriately decorated.
If you have bookshelves behind you, organise the books neatly and add a couple of decorations. However, don’t overdo it. It’s better to keep it clean and tidy than overflowing with distractions. Less is more. You can add a pinboard to the wall behind you. Make sure there are no pathways in the background where your family member will be caught walking by in their pyjamas while you are on a call with a client.
We hope you found these tips useful. They can be achieved with any budget and minimal effort, and you will be surprised how much more productive and pleasant your home office experience becomes.