Whether you are running a business out of the guest room, working from home in the den, or paying your bills in a corner of the family room, constructing a comfortable, professional space is critical. Use these eight tips for creating an office at home.
1. Design an office that meets your needs
The first step in crafting the perfect home office is to settle on its purpose.
- Will you have sole access, or will it be shared with family members?
- Will you always work alone, or will you need seating for vendors and clients?
- What shelves, baskets, filing cabinets, and desk space will you need for storage and organisation?
- If you will claim your home office as a tax deduction, make sure you meet the Internal Revenue Service guidelines.
2. Create a floor plan before making purchases
Before you bring new furniture into the space, you must confirm that it will fit. The same principle applies to wall accessories like bulletin boards and dry erase boards.
The simplest method for fashioning a floor plan is to draw your room measurements on a piece of graph paper, cut out coloured paper to match the scaled size of the items you want, and then try different configurations to until you find the best combination. If you prefer a high-tech approach, you can built your floor plan with a spreadsheet, CAD software, or an interior decorating application.
When you are developing your plan, remember to about one foot of extra depth for open file cabinets and desk drawers. More importantly, make sure you have enough electrical outlets and amperage to accommodate all of your equipment. You do not want extension cords wrapping around the room, and you do not want to trip a circuit breaker every time you switch on your desk lamp.
3. Define the space
Separating your office into a professional space will help you stay in a work mindset and remain productive. If you will be using only part of a room, consider designating your space with some type of barrier. Some inexpensive options include a Japanese Shoji screen, painted bookcases, adjustable curtains or fabric panels, or even a row of potted plants or trees.
4. Pay attention to the furniture
You will get little work done sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours. You also risk aggravating back problems. Choose a chair and desk that will maintain your good posture. According to Cleveland Clinic, having a proper sitting position means the following:
- back straight and shoulders back
- knees at a right angle, even or slightly higher than your hips, with feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed
- elbows and arms resting on your chair or desk with your shoulders relaxed
- shifting to a different position at least once every half hour.
5. Avoid bad lighting
Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and headaches. Move your monitor to a position that will prevent glare. Take advantage of natural lighting whenever possible, and use soft, ambient light bulbs to complement the space. Keep in mind the placement of task lighting for reading and manual work and the general level of room light for other activities.
6. Keep the office fun and inspirational
Surround yourself with pleasant colours, motivating artwork, creative toys, and gallery-like accessories. The items in your office should be calming or thought-provoking but never distracting. Live plants, soft tunes, and aromatherapy products can help form a relaxing environment.
7. Keep the office clean and tidy
Do not be tempted to pack items into every nook of your office. Leave some open space, remove unnecessary trinkets and piles, and use creative storage units to keep unattractive cords and clutter out of sight.
8. Reduce the noise
Locate office noises and take steps to quiet them. Add a door to the furnace, install carpet or wall hangings to absorb echoes, seal door frames, close windows during peak traffic periods, and let your family know your office schedule so they will control interruptions.
With a little planning, you can create a perfect environment for your business activities. As you are pulling together your ideal furniture, equipment, and accessories, keep in mind these eight tips for creating an office at home.