Many more of us are now working remotely and this set-up looks unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. As new home workers adjust to the new norm, and experienced home workers take a fresh look at their workspace, it’s clear that there are many advantages to working from home, such as flexibility, timesaving, and a more relaxed attitude to workwear!
It is however important to consider the potential down side of working from home too. A sizeable challenge can be how to separate your home and work life, the balance being an essential factor in promoting wellbeing, and sometimes difficult with a family at home. Trying to be productive and concentrate on your professional life in the place you normally associate with family time and relaxation, is by no means easy. With children ever present and extra family members sharing your space, as well as household tasks visibly piling up around you, the sofa looks far more appealing than your desk and it can be difficult to remain focused and motivated.
In this guide, we look at 10 ways to design a home study set-up which will help you get organised and ignite your motivation levels. By enhancing your space appropriately you’ll find it easier to remain focused and be productive. The idea is to create a work area where you are comfortable and effective and can enjoy a day at home in the office!
Location Is Key
The reality of home working for most of us is the need to concentrate and become fully immersed in whatever we’re doing in order to be productive. This requires a quiet and calm environment. Whether you’re getting in touch with people over video, or writing a report, if you’re currently working from a room that’s facing a busy road or local building works, you may need to rethink your location.
Another consideration is the location of your Wifi. There’s nothing more annoying than finding that your internet connection is too slow to support your video conferencing. Frustration will continue to build if it takes an eternity to perform the simplest task such as uploading or downloading a file.
Feng shui experts recommend against using your bedroom as your workspace. Your bedroom should be a haven of relaxation, rather than a place for work, and using it as such will throw the energy of the room off balance. If there’s no other viable option, ensure your work area is as far away from your bed as possible.
A Dedicated Space
In order to maximise productivity whilst keeping stress levels to a minimum, a dedicated workspace is ideal. If you don’t have space for a standalone home office, consider adding a desk to one of your least used rooms where you’re less likely to be disturbed. By opting for bespoke fitted furniture, you can give your spare bedroom an additional purpose. Incorporate a workstation within even the most unpromising of spaces or install a fold-down bed so that your spare room functions predominantly as an office but can be adapted instantly for staying guests.
If space is really at a premium, a cost-effective way to create separate zones for different functions is to divide an existing open plan area. Zoning with the careful placement of furniture or installing room dividers is an effective way to create segregated space, allowing members of a household to live together without getting on top of one another. Freestanding shelves can act as temporary partitions and can also provide storage space for any home office essentials. Room dividing is also an ideal solution if you miss the companionship of being in a busy office.
It’s All About The Desk
For many of us, the desk or workstation will be the focal point of the home study area, and its placement can make a considerable difference to how we work and feel whilst doing it. Feng shui experts suggest placing your desk in the so-called commanding position to attract strong and successful energies to your work area. This means not having your back to the door and ensuring there is a solid wall behind you. Feng shui advocates believe the doorway is the mouth of energy entering a room, so avoid placing your desk in the middle of that stream of energy.
For the desk itself, recommendations are for a rectangular wooden desk with wood itself promoting positive energy. For smaller offices, corner desks are an ideal solution that allow you to maximise space, along with two columns of drawers for maximum storage provision.
Spending long hours sitting at a desk can play havoc with your posture, so invest in an ergonomic chair. Not only do they look smart, they’re designed to keep you in the correct position and support you in all the right places. Your desk should be at just the right height to slot an office chair beneath it and your laptop or PC should be positioned at eye level; an ergonomic design is important if you’re to spend hours comfortably at your desk; it’s not ideal to end the day with back pain and an aching neck. Hence any tools you can find which will keep you comfortable as you work can only be a good idea; wrist rests are particularly useful for those who do a lot of typing.
Suss Out Your Storage
In order to be effective in your homeworking space, you’ll need a system much like the one you use in your ‘commute to’ office. This means having the right storage solutions in the right location which are specifically set up for your individual needs. Whether that’s a filing cabinet, a shelving unit or drawers built into your desk, bespoke storage will make your work from home life more effective and efficient.
From spare paper for the printer to pens, paperclips, and highlighters, keeping office basics close to hand is crucial if you want to enhance productivity at home. Drawers are an important feature in any office, so try and ensure your units have plenty of storage to prevent clutter from accumulating on your desk.
A filing system and accessible shelving:
If there’s one thing that should always be kept in order, it’s paperwork. However, many of us feel reluctant to take filing seriously when it means addressing our old, overflowing filing cabinets. When creating your home office, start afresh with a filing system that’s easy and pain-free to manage. Integrating your folders into a filing drawer will keep key documents out of sight but within reach.
If you constantly need to refer to guidelines and handbooks, shelving will ensure that your trusty resources are close to hand whenever you need a little help or inspiration. Complete with a few framed photos and sentimental items, and your home office will soon start to feel like… well, home.
Tidy Space, Tidy Mind
No-one wants to be working amidst a state of disorganisation. If your desk is cluttered and you’re surrounded by debris unrelated to work, your mind will be working overtime to try and solve the ‘mess’ issue, thus taking your focus away from your work. The Chinese believe that there is an invisible energy that binds life together. Known as “chi” it is unable to exist in an area which is dirty, disorganised, or cluttered. Hence your home office should be clean, tidy and well organised. Fitted furniture is a great solution as it is streamlined, easy to clean and provides a variety of clever storage solutions – all of which help to create positive feng shui.
Lighten The Load
Natural lighting itself has a part to play in boosting physical and mental wellbeing, as well as improving sleep and productivity, not to mention reducing your electricity bill! So, if possible, your home office space will have a window area that lets in a decent amount of light (and allows you a scenic view to keep you motivated). Even if you’re adopting a homely appeal for your office, draw the line at dim lighting. Creating an ambience may be a priority when fitting out your lounge or bedroom, but this room requires bright lighting that’s appropriate for long days at your desk. If the lighting in your room is lacking, choose a quality desk lamp that has different settings for day and night.
Choose The Right Scene For Your Space
According to feng shui, each colour determines a different energy and meaning, so choose the right shades that work for you and your workspace. Grey is calming, brown is steady, pale green represents knowledge and growth, blue inspires clarity and white provides focus.
Plants also activate positive energy, such as reducing the negative effects of the electromagnetic energy coming from your computer. They help detox the air too, so choose house plants such as the peace lily, rubber plant and African violet. It also makes sense to decorate with photos, pictures and accessories which make you feel happy and positive.
Establish A Routine
Whatever you decide are your working hours, make sure you stick to them and ensure everyone else in your household is aware of when you’re working too. This is to reduce the interruptions and help you keep your focus. Be strict with yourself – yes, it’s useful to be able to put the washing on, and that’s clearly a benefit of working from home, but don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Keep to your schedule and this will stop your work drifting on and interfering with a healthy home-work balance.
Take A Break
Wherever you choose to set up your work zone, it is key that you make time and space for recuperation. Your daily work routine may be vastly different to what you’re used to but it’s imperative that you take regular breaks, particularly if you are spending lots of time in front of a computer. Taking time out is monumentally important for productivity. You might think you’re being super-efficient by not having your colleagues around to chat with over a coffee, but think again. Your brain needs a break and physical exercise, which you might be missing out on by not physically going to work, is important for re-establishing concentration, as well as for a multitude of other reasons associated with well-being and sleep hygiene. Try to incorporate a relaxing space within your work area too so that it’s easy to take a break. A comfy corner for a change of view where you can enjoy a cup of tea will do it.
How Hartleys Furniture Can Help…
At Hartleys we specialise in creating bespoke home study furniture, both fitted and freestanding. We will design, manufacture and install a desk and storage system to suit you, your work style and your space, fully maximising your room however big or small, whilst embracing all architectural features such as alcoves, beams and sloping ceilings. Our design team will ensure your new furniture safely houses all your work equipment, with wires hidden away and the ergonomics taken care of. Thus, it will be easier to keep your desk clear of clutter and dust-free.
From an aesthetics angle, we offer a wide range of door styles, handles and finishes for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a contemporary two-tone, a traditional woodgrain or a colour-match paint, the joy of a tailor-made home study is that your design is totally bespoke to your taste and requirements. Both functionally and aesthetically our goal is to create a home study solution which you will find appealing, motivating and effective for many years to come. For more information, please contact us on 01756 700471 or via our website.