Home offices can be hubs of productivity for business owners and telecommuters alike. However, an office space that isn’t designed and equipped for optimal results can lead to distraction, inefficiency and frustration. So, how can you create the ideal home office?
Choose Your Spot
First, you’ll have to determine the best place to set up shop. If space is limited, you might not have a choice about where to create a home office. Optimally, you’ll want a separate, spacious room that provides privacy, especially if you share the home with family members or roommates. Try to be away from high-traffic zones, such as the kitchen and living room, which are bound to be noisy and distracting. Separating your work space from your living space will also help you stay focused and avoid overworking after office hours.
Even if you can’t create an office in a separate room, establish a dedicated works pace and set some ground rules for other household members in order to protect your area and materials. To avoid losing work on your office laptop, for example, let children know your computer is for business only. If you’ll be using a land line for your office phone, consider getting a business line separate from your home one.
Because you’ll spend hours each day in your home office, staying comfortable is critical. Not only will you avoid minor aches and pains, but you can also reduce your risk of long-term health effects, such as back issues and carpel tunnel syndrome. Investing in a pricier, ergonomic chair is worth every penny, and consider installing a pull-out keyboard tray. To avoid sitting for extended periods, you could also buy a stand-up desk.
Make sure you have all the office equipment you’ll need, which might include a copy machine, printer, scanner and, of course, a reliable computer with proper software. You’ll also likely need a fast internet connection, and don’t overlook smaller office supplies, such as Post-it Notes, scissors, paper clips and pens.
Like with a work space at a company building, you’ll want to personalize your home office. Incorporate photos, paintings, plants or other personal touches. If you plan to have clients or co-workers visit, though, make sure your office looks professional by not going overboard with decorations.
A room’s color can impact a person’s mood, so consider which color you should paint your office walls. Some designers suggest soothing hues like seafoam green to keep you relaxed and decrease stress, while others suggest bold colors like red to keep you alert and boost productivity. Test out a few colors to see which works best for you. You can also mix it up by painting or designing one focal wall differently.
Light the Way
Improper lighting can lead to eye strain, headaches and fatigue. Make sure you have plenty of overhead light and task lighting—i.e., desk lamps—and try to avoid fluorescent bulbs. If possible, set up your work space where you can take advantage of a window’s natural light.
Keep your office clean and organized to maintain peak performance, avoid losing papers and limit work frustration. By using helpful products, such as filing cabinets, pencil cups and desk trays, you’ll know where everything is. Remember, less time searching for an item means more time focusing on work.