Working from home is a reality for most of us right now. Here are some tips to make this reality the best it can be
1. Use Pinterest Responsibly
Browse for inspiration, but remember that office in design magazines may not be set up to accommodate a 50-hour workweek. Upholstered dining room chairs look amazing, but they won’t support your back. Tiny vintage desks won’t accommodate your project files, and while some people like bright colors, you might get annoyed looking at a whole wall of fire engine red paint right above your computer, even if that makes your office look awesome in a photograph.
2. Follow Ergonomic Rules
The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or a little below. As you scan down the screen, your eyelids will naturally close a bit and moisten, which reduces eye fatigue. Position your keyboard so your forearms are parallel to the floor. And adjust your chair so your feet rest firmly on something–the floor, or a footrest if you’re short. Splurge on a chair that makes you want to put in the hours. It sounds obvious, but you should love the chair you’re sitting on. Otherwise, you will never sit at your desk.
3. Embrace Natural Light
When putting a new desk into a home office, a lot of people kind of reflexively put it right up against the wall in the darkest corner of the room, What they’ve inadvertently done is recreated the corporate cubicle. And who wants that? Move your desk close to the windows, but place it parallel to the panes. This ideal set-up gives you the happiness benefits of natural light, and a good reason to turn away from your computer every few minutes to take in the scene.
4. But Don’t Forget the Lamps
Even with great natural light, you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours of the day. Most overhead house lighting is inadequate for work. It creates space with all the warmth of a hotel lobby. Try a few table lamps, which offer a nice soft glow and interesting design possibilities.
5. Get Creative With Storage
Filing cabinets aren’t the most attractive pieces of furniture, but you do need a place to put papers you use frequently. The biggest issue with home offices is that you wind up having paper everywhere, If you’re the sort of person who needs to see something to remember it exists, try wall storage: magazine-type racks, or children’s library-style display shelves.
If you need bookcases, get nice ones–big enough that you don’t need to overstuff, and artful enough that they’ll look great as the backdrop in your video conferences. And if you’re using the guest bedroom? It probably has a closet. Trick out that closet with a shelving system, so you minimize the need for storage in the main office area.
6. Create Some Comfy Space
Your desk is for active work, but you probably need a place to think or read, too. A great home office has a nice comfy chair for curling up–potentially with an ottoman for your feet–plus a table for your coffee and a great lamp. Add a luxurious throw and a colorful pillow and you’ll want to take thinking breaks.
7. Add Greenery
Plants make people happier. It’s like bringing what’s outside your window into your space. Plus, since most plants can go a day or two without water, you won’t have to go into your office on weekends (as you might need to if tending to other living things, like fish).
8. Personalize Thoughtfully
Putting photos of family on your desk or nearby is great, but when things don’t get changed around they become somewhat like wallpaper. They cease to make us mindful. So rotate the photos, and include mementos of success, cartoons that make you laugh, even a scent that makes you happy–something you definitely can’t get away within a cube.
9. Hide Things You Don’t Want to Look at
Modern offices have lots of cords. Run a power strip behind your desk and plug everything into that. Like printers and cables for example.
Especially if other people are home during working hours, you don’t want to be darting out of the office every few minutes when you need things. Keep all your office supplies–pens, scissors, stapler, stamps–handy. Consider a small fridge or coffee maker if you like to enjoy a few beverages during the day. But don’t keep your lunch in the office fridge. You do need breaks, after all, and even if you’ve got an awesome home office, you don’t need to spend your life in there.
Thanks to Laura Vanderkam