The events of the past two years have upended offices across the globe, leading to millions of employees having to work remotely. Many of those people didn’t have a designated workspace available, which has led to living rooms becoming conference rooms, kitchens doubling as cubicles, and bedrooms turning into break-rooms. Thankfully, there are simple, budget-friendly ways to make your home office a great place to work.
Why is it important to have a great home office?
99 percent of people would choose to work remotely for the rest of their life, even if it was just part-time.
This is an incredibly powerful statistic. It shows that nearly everyone wants more freedom and flexibility, less stress, and the option to improve their work/life balance by working from home.
The surge of remote work is more than just a fad and that means that the temporary office space you have set up might not be suitable in the long term. Making your home office a great place to work can improve your productivity, boost creativity, reduce anxiety, and prevent psychological and physiological issues from developing. If you are treating your coffee table as your work desk, read on for our advice.
Ways to make your home office a great place to work
Your home office environment should be comfortable and welcoming as this is where you are going to spend a significant amount of your day. We all have good days and bad days, and getting into a productive mood is not always easy, that’s why it is important to make sure that your personal workspace helps you to fulfill your potential whilst working remotely.
Below are ways that you can make your home office a great place to work:
Are you sitting comfortably?
If you work from home, chances are you spend the majority of your time sitting down. As a lot of people do not have dedicated office space in their house this can result in long hours slouched on the sofa, or sitting awkwardly on an unused dining chair. Even if you take regular breaks to exercise, sitting down for hours at a time can cause health concerns including headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, backaches, and improper posture. That’s why it’s so important to not underestimate the power of a good chair!
An ergonomic chair can make or break the comfort of your work environment. They are specifically designed to support the natural 'S' shape of the spine, which prevents slumping and reduces stress on the spine and the pelvis. Adjustable backrests allow you to align the curve in the chair with the curve in your spine, for optimal support throughout your workday. Ergonomic chairs can be expensive but if you are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future the investment can save you physical and financial issues in the long term.
Tip – If you are not able to switch up your current seating arrangement, consider a lumbar support pillow to add back support to your existing chair.
Install a flexible workstation
I’m sure you will have heard of a standing desk. Maybe you have always wanted to try one but have been nervous about what your fellow colleagues will think. Well, that is one of the best things about working from home. Your house, your rules. You can organize your workspace in a way that works perfectly for you without worrying about judgmental team members.
Working in a standing position is proven to be beneficial in many ways, especially as it takes the pressure off your lower back. For example, standing while working may:
- Lower your risk of weight gain
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Reduce back pain
- Improve mood and energy levels
- Boost productivity
There are a lot of standing desks on the market so it is important to do your research to make sure you find the right one to suit you and your home office. Many modern versions are height-adjustable, also known as sit-stand desks, so that you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing. This offers you the flexibility to rest if you get tired and stand when you are in the mood to do so.
Tip - If you can’t install a new desk in your home office but want more flexibility, look at adjustable desk risers. You position it on top of your existing desk and then adjust the height however you like.
Breathe easy – clean the air
Bad air conditions can contribute to a number of health issues and can trigger asthma attacks, as well as lowering your immunity. This can affect productivity, sometimes without you even noticing.
A lack of fresh air can make you feel sleepy and tired faster as you are not getting enough oxygen to your lungs, which will make you feel lazy and more likely to procrastinate.
We can’t always control where our home office is situated, but there are some things you can do to make sure the space is well ventilated with clean air:
- Open the windows regularly to let air into the room
- Invest in a good-quality air conditioner
- Add air-purifying plants to absorb toxins from the air
- Invest in an air humidifier to prevent dryness of the skin, lips, nose, and throat
- Invest in a good quality HEPA air purifier
The right temperature can make your home office a great place to work as it makes you feel more comfortable. It’s not easy to focus if you are too hot or too cold. And the best part… no more arguing with colleagues over the ‘correct’ temperature.
Tip – You can purchase air humidifiers that are also essential oil diffusers so you can make your home office smell great too!
Bring nature in
Incorporating plants into your home office is a way to reconnect with nature and bring the outdoor world inside. Office plants not only look good and add points of visual interest to a space, but they can have significant benefits for our health and well-being, both physical and mental. Studies have found that daily interaction with plants helps to reduce psychological and physiological stress.
Working in a visually stimulating environment, rather than a sparse one, will help you to foster creativity and can also have a positive effect on productivity. And, it’s not a problem if you don’t have green fingers, you can find plants to suit all kinds of environments and lighting setups. For example, spider plants and peace lilies are two great options. These plants are low maintenance, look good, and can help to remove toxins from the air.
However you choose to go about it, plants are a simple and effective way to optimize your home office space and make it a great place to work.
Tip – Remember, plants need watering regularly… unless they are plastic!
Improve the décor
Everyone’s home office is different. Some people have an entire room, others have a small nook in the corner of the kitchen, but no matter where you work there are ways to maximize your space and make it look great. It’s important to feel good in your workspace and some simple changes can have a big impact.
As online meetings have become more and more popular the importance of having a stylish backdrop has increased. After lockdown, I’m sure a lot of us have a few more pieces of art on the wall and big, important-looking books on the shelf behind our desks. But, there are reasons to make some decorative changes other than impressing your colleagues and clients.
A home office presents the opportunity to put your favorite decorating style on full display. Once you've decided how best to use your home office, you can have fun with all kinds of design tricks. There's removable wallpaper, sleek storage solutions, budget-friendly furniture and art prints, stylish color palettes — the possibilities are endless, so it’s good to go online to look for inspiration.
Finding the perfect balance between decorative and practical additions is achievable, and you don't need to spend big to update your home office. Whether you want to create a calm and cozy space, something sleek, modern, and minimalist, or something a little quirky, there’s a myriad of options out there.
Light it up
Lighting your home office properly is crucial if you want your workspace to be productive and a pleasure to spend time in. Poor lighting can make a space that could encourage creativity and efficiency become somewhere that feels dull and depressing.
The best way to light a home office is to include a combination of three main lighting types, each of which plays a different role:
Ambient Lighting: background lighting that illuminates the entire space. It is usually provided by a central pendant light, recessed downlights, or a selection of wall lights.
Task Lighting: This is the practical type of light that allows you to get the jobs you need to carry out in a space done. In a home office, task lights often come in the form of directional desk lamps, although floor lamps and even low-hung pendants over your work area can work too.
Accent/Directional Lighting: Accent lighting is primarily for aesthetic purposes, allowing you to draw attention to features or certain areas of the room. Good sources include hidden LED strip lights, wall washers, and up lights. While this type of lighting is not as crucial in a home office as task or ambient, it helps to make the space pleasurable to be in.
Natural light and the way in which it enters your home office is also hugely important. Aim to position your desk in the area that receives the most natural light. Some people like their desk to face an available window, but that can sometimes be a little distracting. In this case, you can place your desk at a perpendicular angle to the window.
Tip - If you have to place your desk with the window behind you, be sure to fit curtains or a blind for days when bright sunlight could cause glare on your computer screen.
Infuse the room
Making your home office a great place to work can also include improving how it smells. There are a variety of products available that allow you to infuse your space based on your aromatic preferences. These range from fragrance warmers, to incense burners, to plug-in scent dispensers. If your workspace smells nice - or at least clean - you are more likely to feel relaxed and ready to focus on your tasks.
Tip – Any type of product which requires an open flame may become a safety concern, especially if you have a busy schedule that may make you distracted. So opt for flameless burners if this is a potential problem.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is being able to wear what you want without following a traditional formal workplace dress code. Of course, this does not apply at all times. You still need to remember to change out of your pajamas before important client video calls, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable throughout the majority of your working day if that’s what makes you happy.
Being cozy does not mean being sloppy. If you prefer to wear a more professional outfit during work hours, you can still benefit from a pair of comfy socks. Your toes are one of the first parts of your body to get cold once the temperature drops, so you can look smart and keep warm whilst at your desk.
Making your home office a great place to work – our conclusion
In the past, the idea of working from home sounded like a dream for many of us and could only be adopted by a few. Now, it is a reality for the majority of us. The time to embrace remote work and the home office is here. Make your workspace the best it can be, so you can perform at your best.