When I first started working from home, I tried working on the edge of a table, sitting with my laptop on my lap in the living room and even going out and finding a quiet spot in a cafe. I was never unproductive, but I often felt frustrated and disorganised - not having enough space or all the things I needed around me. Eventually, I started working in our spare room and this helped, but it still wasn’t ideal. It was a bedroom with a space for me to sit all day, but not much more. And then, we decided to clear out our other spare room, which had been used as nothing more than a storage room for the past 6 years and convert it into an office - and what a transformation! I now have a usable space, where I can lay out all my projects. It’s not in anyone’s way and I can close the door on it at the end of each day. It is still a work in progress, but there are a few things I have considered along the way that I think would help anyone who is thinking about setting up a home office.
Lighting in any room is important as it really can change the mood and perception of the space dramatically. This includes natural and artificial light. I am lucky that my office has a large and unobstructed window, which allows plenty of daylight in, but if your office space doesn’t provide natural light, you will need to look at appropriate options. For the darker days, I have a few lights in my home office: a ceiling light, desk lamp and pretty solar fairy lights (just because they look fab and add ambience). Both my ceiling light and desk lamp are fitted with Phillips Hue smart bulbs, which form part of our smart lighting set up throughout the house. There are a range of bulbs available, but I have a bulb that is capable of emitting white natural light. This makes the room feel bright and airy and reduces fatigue and eye ache after hours sat at the computer. As my home office also has a day-bed in it, the remote control for the smart lighting system comes in handy when the room is being used as a guest bedroom.
This is possibly the most important element, in my opinion, to designing a home office. My work space isn’t very big, so I need to make the most of the space I have. I have utilised under bed storage boxes, shelving and I actually use IKEA yellow wall-mounted shoe storage boxes as my filing cabinets. They work really well with my colour-scheme and they also double-up as handy bed-side shelves next to the day-bed. My under desk storage unit is on wheels and can be pulled out to create extra desk space. One tip that has helped me in the organisation of my home office is to store everything away in boxes before placing on shelves or in drawers. This can help reduce dust on your items and helps make things more accessible when they’re at the bottom of a drawer.
Your decision process will probably go something like a Goldilocks story - this one is too high, this one is too low, then, eventually, this one is just right! But it is important to test desks out to ensure you find one that suits you. After all, you will be spending a lot of time at your home office desk.
Similarly to my desk advice, don’t buy before you try! You’ll be sitting on it day in and day out, so make sure it suits you, your body, your posture and your work space. Ensure it is supportive and adjustable, as throughout the day, you might want to mix up your sitting position.
Home office tech
My list of office tech goes something like this:
I do love my gadgets and I know I do have a lot of tech, but my home office tech list features mostly essential items. I work on multiple projects at any one time, so alongside my laptop, I always have a second monitor plugged in to extend my usable work space. Rather than constantly closing down, minimising or toggling between applications, I can have multiple apps open and work between windows. I find this particularly helpful when I am working with numbers and spreadsheets and also when researching and writing copy.
I know I have already mentioned it, but I do love my smart lighting from Phillips Hue. It literally transforms the room. I can set the lighting to feel like daylight at 2am or dim the bulbs to a subtle, warm glow to chill out. Furthermore, with the recent introduction of my Amazon Dot, I can now control my lighting by voice control - Fab!
The Amazon Dot is a great addition to the home office. It is a discreet personal assistant, always ready to work, entertain and react. I mainly use it to stream music from my Spotify account, control my lighting, perform internet look-ups and set reminders. However, there are many more uses for it including linking it to other smart home devices, home shopping and entertainment.
Add a bit of greenery
Apart from the aesthetics of adding a growing plant to your home office, there are also health benefits. Plants will help freshen the air in your work space and there are plenty of hardy non-demanding varieties to choose from that won't need much care and attention - just the odd splash of water every once in a while.
Personalise your space
And finally, get creative with your home office work space. As you will spend a lot of time in it, make it a motivational place to be - full of personal touches, photos and items that are important to you. ENJOY IT!