To compensate for inefficiencies, to save money and space, many companies are now hiring fully remote employees, or they regularly offer their in-house employees the option to work remotely part time. If you’re transitioning to a remote work environment, a well designed home office can be a great help. Maximize your productivity with these home office design tips.
Get a room!
Choosing the right space for your home office can be tricky, especially if you live in a condo or an apartment. Even if you find yourself with very few options for where to set up camp, our best tip is to separate your office space from the rest of your home.
The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ rings true for many remote workers.
The reason behind this is that you need to live in your home. If you don't set boundaries you might find yourself working constantly, or the opposite--not working at all.
Extra bedrooms, nooks, sunrooms, and even the master bedroom or the living room, if the space is well divided, will work. An extra bedroom is ideal - you can close your office door and keep your work and home life separate.
- Nooks are quaint spaces for those who don’t work from home daily. You can set up a small workspace big enough for a tiny desk and your computer.
- Sunrooms, like bedrooms, are excellent options because they allow you to close off the space to the rest of the apartment. They also tend to offer a great view while you work. (If you have a nice view to start with, that is.)
- The master bedroom or the living room are the least ideal spaces, but in small spaces they may be your only option. They are usually big enough to include a desk and chair, but tend to impose limits on your working time when the room is used by a partner or spouse. Try to keep your belongings in a corner of the room, so you can relax when it’s time for bed or a movie.
The space you choose depends on your needs. Here are a few questions to think about when choosing your ideal home office space:
Will you work remotely full time?
Is this space just for the odd time you need to escape the office?
Will you bring clients into the space?
Will you do video calls in the space?
Do you have a lot of work materials to store?
The questions above will help you figure out what you need in a home office space and what you don’t. If your office is a client facing space or one you plan to use daily, it needs to be more spacious and professional. If you have a lot of equipment, you’ll need to ensure you can store it all without encroaching on the rest of your home. If it’s just you and your laptop once a week, your dining room table or couch may suffice (given you have the discipline to either focus on work, or don't get dragged in to the point where you are working all the time!). But, always be cautious about your home office habits!
Don't work, sleep and eat in the same space. When you’re in your little office, you’re working, when you’re not, you’re not.
There are two types of people:
Sherille Layton, our Sales Representative, works from an extension of her kitchen. She says this is possible thanks to her family respecting her space and work.
Richard Silver, our Senior VP of Sales, travels and works on the go so often, that his home office consists of a laptop and a smartphone.
You know what they say, home is where there is an internet connection.
Lightweight MacBook with 10 hours of battery life and an iPhone with Mophie JuicePack is everything Richard needs on his travels.
Make your space pleasant and inviting
A dark and dreary, cramped home office workspace is just as uninspiring as is a noisy office. It’s also the last place where you’d like to bring a client in for a meeting.
Inject some of your personality into your new space with a little decor. Whether it’s that cool vintage desk chair you’ve been admiring in the antique store down the street, or fresh cut flowers in a simple vase, look for decor that will motivate you and make you feel like the space is yours.
We recommend adding something pleasant to look at that resonates with you. Photos of loved ones, art you like, or a living plant are all great options.
Less Is More, Go The Minimalist Route
If you don’t expect any guests to visit your space (and you find pretty knick knacks and decor distracting), go the minimalist route. A stripped down desk, chair and your PC or Mac is all you really need anyway. And isn’t there something beautiful about simplicity? We recommend purchasing a simple, yet elegant, desk and chair.
Clean and tidy desk is a decoration itself. Sherille agrees:
I keep my home office as clean and tidy as possible, because I'm not good at working in mess whether it’s organized mess, or just a mess.
Decor To Impress
Much like your space, your decor will be largely dictated by the demands of your work. If you’re going to entertain clients in your office, you need to make your space inviting to outsiders.
Be sure to have one or more comfortable chairs for visitors (find collapsible chairs if you’re in a tight space), a few useful items like coasters if you plan to serve coffee or tea, and adequate light fixtures if your clients will be reading or reviewing anything.
If you are more of a hobbit, your space can be as cozy or outrageous as you like.
Rare picture of Richard working from desk at home. Large corner desk with subtle decoration and source of daylight.
Stay organized, stay productive
If you work primarily online on a cloud system, or work on your computer more than on paper, you probably don’t need much physical storage for your office. If you regularly print documents or refer to physical files, you may want to work a filing cabinet or tabletop file organizer into your decor. If you need physical storage, but are tight on space, consider stackable storage boxes you can hide under your desk when you’re not on the clock.
According to Sherille, the key to success is organization and discipline.
I love working on my home office to make things run better and be more organized. My set-up includes plenty of cabinets, cupboards and drawers for storage and files.
To sit or not to sit?
Sitting may or may not be bad for us, but we do know that excercise as simple as walking has undeniable health benefits.
From our commute, to our 9-5 jobs, to our dinner and a movie habits, we’re encouraged to sit constantly.
This can add up to a sedentary lifestyle over time. Some studies have tied excessive sitting to obesity and diabetes, even cancer. Some studies have indicated that sitting more than 5 hours a day can shave years off your life!
So what's the solution? Standing? Why, yes! If you’re not sure you can stand all day long, invest in an adjustable standing desk. It will allow you to sit or stand whenever you feel like it. Best of all, it will occupy the same amount of space or less in your home than a normal desk.
If you choose to stand at work, position your standing desk at, or just under, elbow height.
If you find yourself distracted when standing, consider a bosu ball "chair" instead of a traditional desk chair. Sitting on the ball will engage your core muscles to keep you balanced on the ball. It’s a great, healthy alternative to traditional desk chairs. Just don’t let your cat puncture it!
One of the great things about a home office is that you can use a standing desk, or a bosu ball as a chair and no one will judge you for it.
What is your home office set-up? We would love to hear from you, especially things you missed in the article and think they can help others with their remote jobs.