With the recent increase in flexible work arrangements and the rise of hybrid workspaces, working from home (to various degrees) has become the new normal.
Free of long commutes, fixed breaks, and office politics, remote and hybrid work schedules are empowering us to take more control over our work and personal lives than ever before.
However, a challenge many now face is how to transfer the functionality and productivity of a traditional office to our new home workspace.
Recent data shows that one of the best secrets to working from home successfully (aside from self-discipline and robust Wi-Fi connection) is creating a home workspace setup that’s as functional, pleasant (and calming!) as possible.
It seems that one of the perks of working from home is being able to roll out of bed and stroll over to your desk without even changing out of your pyjamas. The drawback? If your office is unattractive, small, or inconvenient, it will take the spring out of your step almost right away.
As it turns out, working on the sofa isn’t that comfortable, and staying focused at home isn’t that easy.
So how can you design a home workspace that boosts creativity, connection, and productivity? Here are our top 10 tips for creating the perfect home workspace and 2 mistakes you should definitely try to avoid.
Let’s dive in.
1. Define your work requirements.
Consider the type of job you’ll be doing when contemplating home workspace design ideas. Is your work more creative? Does it involve numbers and spreadsheets? Does it require lots of outgoing or incoming calls? Or do you perhaps need a collaborative set up to communicate with your team?
After you’ve answered these questions, consider the materials and storage space you’ll need in order to do your work efficiently.. If you’re a graphic designer, a desktop monitor will help you create templates more quickly and easily. Alternatively, if you run a business, a dual copier printer may be required. A communication station for Zoom meetings and phone calls might also be relevant for some.
2. Establish a designated workspace
It’s easy to get distracted at home by counter clutter, domestic obligations, or simply a lack of motivation to work. As a result, dedicating a work location for your home workstation is critical to your success.
Consider what kind of atmosphere you’ll work best in while designing your office. Do you require complete seclusion or some background noise? Will it be easier for you to have quick access to the kitchen for coffee refills? Or will being at close proximity to food and snacks become a distraction?
Make an effort to identify what derails you, so you can avoid those distractions. What are your distractors? Is it the pile of dishes in the sink? The noisy construction below your window? Or the television your kid is playing in the background?
If you have children at home, you may need to arrange your workplace so that it’s close to where they will be practicing “distance learning,” depending on their ages and the level of supervision they require. You could, for example, set up shop at the kitchen counter while your children work at the adjoining dining table.
Understanding what helps and hinders your work will aid you in determining the optimum location for your business. And even more importantly, make sure to find a space you love spending time in. You will be much more likely to sit and work in a spot that’s nice and comfortable for your particular needs.
3. Make the best of what you have.
Fortunately, because most of us (especially those who work from home) just require a laptop-sized desk surface, setting up a workplace doesn’t take up much space.
Don’t have a spare room? Time to get inventive. At-home workspace ideas aren’t limited to finding a spare room or work area. You don’t even need a whole “office”; a well-designed nook, cranny, or recess will suffice. Even enough space for a full desk can turn into a home office space.
Measure the breadth of your necessary workspace (1 meter squared should suffice), then look around your house for locations that are equal in size. An underutilized section of the hallway or beneath the stairs, a cluttered walk-in wardrobe, an empty space next to the fireplace, or an inconvenient location behind a door where you’ve currently parked a large vase are all possibilities. These spaces could be ideal for a tiny, private home office.
As a makeshift office, try repurposing an old armoire. When it’s open, you’re at work and when it’s closed, you have an organized, attractive room for other uses.
A movable file cart could also be used to store your laptop, papers, and other work equipment. You can use it as a mobile workstation by rolling it to your dining table or kitchen counter. It can even be rolled into a closet or a corner when you’re done working to keep it out of the way.
4. Decide on a filing system.
Even if you do most of your work online, having a limited amount of storage space for papers will ultimately pile up and clog your workspace. Consider tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and utility bills.
For your office home space, choose file boxes or elegant baskets for filing various documents. Use a desktop file sorter for papers you need to have on hand all day and make sure that your files and filing boxes are labeled neatly and clearly for easy sorting. When you’re able to quickly locate what you need, it’s easy to stay organized and avoid papers from mounting up.
5. Put your comfort first.
Make a workspace at home that you enjoy spending time in. If it’s a room, think about painting it a color you like and make sure it’s well-lit.
Find a comfortable, ergonomically suitable chair and set your computer to eye level. Look around your house for a chair and table or another surface that will allow you to operate your computer or laptop without hunching. A chair that is both comfy and supportive of the back is excellent. A cushion or a draped blanket can add to the coziness.
If you’re looking to invest in a new desk, consider an ergotronhome workspace in order to incorporate movement into your day. Switching between standing and sitting positions throughout the day will help with backaches and other spinal issues which may arise due to bad posture.
Another possibility is to make your own “standing desk” out of a kitchen counter. To get the appropriate height, you may need to hold your laptop up on books. Try to design a setting that keeps your back in alignment so you don’t have to bend down to see the screen, whether you’re sitting or standing.
Other ideas include adding some plants, hanging a beloved piece of art, installing speakers, or bringing in a fan or tiny space heater. Keep in mind that your work environment sets the tone for getting things done, so make it a welcoming, motivating environment to be in.
6. Keep everything in order.
When it comes to home workspace decor, limit framed photos and knick-knacks for a clean, uncluttered office. Keep everyday essentials on your desk, such as your stapler, planner, or pens, and keep the more fancy decor on floating shelves, so you have more area to work.
You can actually make up for a lack of space by going high, with shelves and cupboards reaching all the way to the ceiling and repository trays at eye level to supplement a small workstation.
To keep your at-home office organized, put loose wires, connections, and tech devices in a “tech box” for quick access, and have a ‘drop zone’ for papers that need to be filed. Make sure you have at least one “messy drawer” where you may toss anything that is in the way but hasn’t found a permanent place.
Everything else should be filed in neat folders, magazine files, or a desk tidy. A clear desk policy boosts productivity while also reducing the inevitable distractions that come with working from home. When it comes to video conference calls, a tidy desk will come in handy (just remember to change out of your pajamas for those).
Once your physical space is sorted, make sure to extend the same efforts to your digital space. All those emails, notes, and different to do lists living on your various mobile and desktop devices should be organized in the same manner as our papers and folders. Using an all-in-one platform like Any.do, which allows you to link your email, calendar, lists, and reminders is the perfect productivity hub to get your personal and professional life in order. As soon as you get rid of both physical and digital clutter, getting things done will be a whole lot easier.
7. Make sure you have adequate lighting.
A well-lit office is key for productivity. You’ll want to make sure your desk has enough lighting to prevent eye strain. Choosing a sunny location near a window can also be an advantage. In fact, studies show that workers close to windows are 51% less likely to experience eyestrain and 63% less likely to get tension headaches. Being close to natural light also boosted workers’ energy.
If not, consider if you can add natural light by installing a skylight or installing glass blocks in a piece of the wall you’re facing. This will brighten up your workspace even if it isn’t an exterior wall. Also, consider your desk can be swapped out for a piece of furniture that doesn’t require as much natural light.
If natural sunlight isn’t an option, consider borrowing a floor lamp or a table lamp from another room to create a well-lit workspace if you need to complement overhead illumination.
If all else fails, brighten your workstation by painting the walls a light color, hanging a mirror in such a way that it reflects natural light from the nearest window, and accessorizing with brightly colored office supplies. Above all, make sure you have a variety of light sources, including a good desk lamp, a full spectrum light bulb, and indirect lighting (for example, built into your shelves).
If your eyes become fatigued after the first day of working in your new environment, it’s time to adjust the lighting. Adjust the position of the current illumination or add another source of light.
8. Establish a connection.
As more people are now working from home, they’re using their home internet networks for activities usually reserved for the workplace. But your home network may not be equipped to handle all this extra strain, such as video conferencing and file uploading.
To get the most of your home power and network, make sure your workspace is close to a power outlet, or invest in a multi-plug extension cord so you can plug in everything you’ll need at the same time—computer, phone, printer.
If you plan on participating in a lot of video calls, do a mock call at your new office to check your sound and video quality from your designated home office space.
A basic, non-distracting wall makes a decent backdrop, and correct lighting (see above) improves video quality. While you’re at it, check the strength of the WiFi signal in that region of the home and get familiar with best practices for home-network usage.
9. Keep privacy and security in mind.
You may struggle to find peace, concentration, and privacy whether you live with other adults or those notoriously productivity-enhancing housemates known as children.
While a closed office door isn’t a guarantee of silence (just ask that BBC Korea journalist), it certainly helps. If that isn’t possible, use room separators such as shelving (which can also be used as office storage), potted plants (which will enhance the air quality in your office), or a translucent folding screen. In noisy environments, noise-canceling headphones are a blessing.
Additionally, privacy should be extended to your digital workspace as well. Depending on the nature of your work, make sure that your data is safely protected and that only you have access to it. This is crucial when working on joint devices or handling kids’ activities.
Keep an eye out for the latest data protection solutions out there and make sure that you’re using the devices in your home in an appropriate manner.
10. Have fun with it
Many home workers say that working in a more relaxed environment helps them work better and longer, thus potentially increasing their productivity. Your home workspace should be a place that motivates and energizes you. However, it is almost impossible to stay driven and focused in a room that does not feel like yours.
Inspirational wall art, photos of your family, and various knick-knacks such as action figures, magazines, or books are examples of items that you can spread around your home office for when you need to take a break.
If you are feeling stressed or distracted, taking a moment to read your favorite quote or finding inspiration through art magazines is a way to refresh and renew your concentration.
Additional ways to keep your workspace overflowing with positivity are painting the walls your favorite color, adding plants, and for pet owners – creating a designated spot for your fur baby. Injecting some individuality into your workspace will make it a more pleasant place to spend time.
Are you attempting to instill a sense of calm? Enjoy the benefits of working from home by placing an aromatherapy diffuser on your desk or listening to soothing, non-distracting music.
2 Home office mistakes you should Avoid
A study by Stanford of 16,000 workers over 9 months found that working from home increased productivity by 13%, improved work satisfaction, and cut attrition rates by 50%.
While there is mass potential behind home workers, having the right kind of workspace is at the heart of keeping this productivity going. As you set up your home workspace or work to improve your home office, make it a point to avoid these 2 common mistakes that can easily send you into an inefficiency loop.
1. Avoid working from your bed or couch.
It may sound appealing, but it’s preferable to avoid working in bed if at all possible. If you don’t, you’ll start to associate your bed with work and have difficulties sleeping at night.
On the other hand, it’s easy to never feel entirely productive when working all day from your bed. You may find yourself giving in to fatigue and taking naps when you need to be working.
Additionally, insomnia is the number one sleep-related problem affecting work productivity. This can be a complication with or without working from your bed, though mixing your work and sleep space is likely to make it worse.
Sitting in the same position after work for a Netflix binge-watching session will feel less restful if you work from your sofa. To create some mental distance, even in a tiny home, attempt to construct a workspace that is separate from your relaxing zone.
Other aspects of your life that can be affected by this type of workspace are your health and your relationships. Sitting for an extended period in the same position on a bed or couch can cause deteriorated health, including heart disease, cancer, and kidney disease, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Lastly, according to one study, phone distractions during time with your partner can lead to decreased relationship satisfaction and even depression.
The same logic applies to all screens. When you’re spending time in bed, leave out the screens to let your partner know that you’re ready to give them your full attention. This will also help associate the bed with ‘togetherness’ rather than work.
2. Avoid mixing between work and home time
It’s critical to create some distinction between your living and working places in order to switch off after a long day at the (home) office. Without some serious boundaries, working from home means the office can easily seep into your life and affect your mental (and physical) health.
If you can’t make the separation visually, do it spatially. Make your office hide behind a curtain or a sliding screen, or by clearing the desk and putting everything that looks like work away in cupboards.
By picking furniture that serves several purposes, your workplace can be transformed into a coffee table for happy hour beverages, a storage seat with a lid, and a computer desk that folds away, or a bureau that closes.
Of course, it’s simpler to conceal anything that isn’t particularly noticeable in the first place, so choose for glass tables, lucite chairs, light metal shelves, or decor that fits in with the rest of the space from the start.
Furthermore, consider adapting lifestyle habits that will revolve around your home workspace. For example, only sit at your workspace during work hours. Take your breaks away from your desk, to get a proper sense of rest.
Do not work in pajamas. Put on a comfy outfit that will mark your transition between home and office hours. Rituals, such as making your morning coffee and reviewing your daily calendar each morning, will also help keep your focus in line. Many of our users choose to start their day with Any.do Moment which helps them get into ‘work-mode.
One of the most common causes of stress is having an overloaded schedule that drains your physical and emotional energy. Using a daily planner helps you manage important tasks, reduces anxiety, and creates an entire framework for your day.
Once you’re ready to transition back to ‘home mode’, counter rituals such as a soothing bath or a light stretching routine can clear your head of the daily grind and set you into relaxation time. Find whatever it is that helps you get into the right state of mind for each section of your day, and work it to your advantage.
Surveys show that 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month display increased productivity, with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time.
While it allows for much more freedom and comfort, when you start working remotely you need to keep in mind that it comes with its fair share of complications. The most prominent one? Setting up your home workspace to ensure maximum productivity.
If you are having trouble working efficiently from home, then chances are that you need to set up a designated home workspace that inspires productivity.
With the right kind of setup, working at home will become an enjoyable aspect of your day, without any distractions or procrastination pitfalls.
What does your home workspace look like? Tell us in the comments below and tag us on Instagram (@anydo) with pictures of your workspace.