Working from home has been a new reality for many of us over the last few years. When it first started, the idea of working in our pyjamas and having the flexibility to take breaks when needed seemed like a dream come true. But now, after two years of working from home, some might feel a little weary. The same four walls can start feeling stifling, and the lack of separation between work and home life can be overwhelming. If you’re one of these people, don’t worry – there are some design updates you can make to your home office that can help to rejuvenate you and your space.
Start with a plan
Many of us started working from home without much of a plan. We set up a makeshift office in the corner of our living room or at the kitchen table. And while this might have been fine initially, now that we’ve been working from home for a while, we might find ourselves working in a space that has evolved without any real plan or design flair.
If you’re feeling a little fatigued by your current work setup, now is the perfect time to invest in a change that will give you the lift you need to feel rejuvenated and inspired. Start by indulging yourself in a daydream about what your ideal space might look like. Take a leaf from the interior designer’s book and create a mood board of things you like. This can be a physical collage of images and other things that inspire you or a virtual collection of inspiration images using Pinterest or Houzz to compile your ideas. Take note of the colours and textures you’re drawn to and try to identify any common themes.
Are you happy with the location of your work-from-home setup? Can you set aside some space in your home that is solely for work? You might be lucky enough to have a room you can use, or perhaps you could repurpose a landing space or even open up under the stairs. The most important consideration when planning the location is choosing a space with minimal distractions during your work hours. So what suits one individual is going to be different from the next.
We’ve successfully created work-from-home spaces in alcoves in living rooms and under stairs spaces for some clients. Bespoke joinery was crucial for success here, allowing us to tailor the area to our client’s requirements. It also meant we could design it so that the space could be closed off when not in use.
Sometimes a simple refresh of space is all it needs to feel brand new. Could you move your furniture around to improve the flow or change your view? Instead of putting your desk up against a wall, try placing it adjacent to or facing a window to look out onto nature.
Give your space a good clearout. No matter how tidy we are, stuff tends to accumulate, especially when we’re busy. But for many people, clutter and disorganisation can contribute to stress. If your work means you need a lot of papers and files, invest in some closed storage. A notice board or whiteboard can also be an excellent addition and helpful tool for more creative tasks or brainstorming. Add some open storage for displaying more decorative items like plants or books to make the space feel more personal.
If you still need to, now is the time to invest in proper furniture and equipment. When choosing furniture, consider your needs and the size of your space. If you have limited space, opt for multi-functional furniture that can be easily stored away when not in use. If you need a lot of storage space, consider investing in a desk with built-in storage, or a bookcase that can be used to store all of your work essentials.
Ensure you get the best chair you can afford, one with proper lumbar support and armrests, and make sure you can adjust the seat height for your ergonomics.
I’ve started paying a lot more attention to ergonomics, having suffered back pain for the last few months. Your workspace should be comfortable and promote good posture. Ensure your chair is at the right height for your desk and your computer monitor is positioned at eye level to avoid neck strain. Position your screen at eye level and keep it about an arm’s length away. If you’re using a laptop, consider using an external keyboard and mouse to avoid neck and back strain.
“Avoid sitting on the edge of your chair and slouching forward to reach the keyboard,” says Alison Quinn, Specialist Chartered Physiotherapist from the Rehab Rooms Physio Clinic. “To keep good spinal alignment, aim to roughly have your ears in line with your shoulders and your shoulders in line with your hips,” she recommends.
Good lighting is essential for both productivity and well-being. If you’re lucky enough to have natural light in your home office, make the most of it by positioning your desk near the window.
Good task lighting is also vital, so you should invest in a good quality desk lamp to provide adequate lighting for your workspace. But make sure you get the colour temperature of your bulbs right. Unlike the rest of your home, where you’ll tend to use warm colour temperature bulbs, it’s preferable to go with a cooler colour temperature for your home office. ‘The colour temperature of your light bulbs will stimulate the mind differently,’ explains Rocky Wall from Wink Lighting. The mind finds it easier to concentrate in daylight, so many offices are lit with cool colour temperature bulbs. ‘Putting warm colour temperature bulbs in an office space will send signals to the brain it’s time to wind down,’ he adds. So choosing a cool colour temperature bulb for your home office will help with focus and productivity.
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