Take on a Home Office ProjectWritten by Gavin Humphreys
Let’s reconceptualize our home office.
Take a step back and imagine where you would love to work.
Your ideal space - somewhere that would make you smile when you walk in every morning.
Can you picture it? Smell it? Feel it?
It’s time to make it a reality.
The home office is here to stay
The global pandemic, and its fallout, has impacted us across the board - our personal lives, how we interact, the way we eat, the things we value, and the way we work.
Working from home became the norm for a few months - and now that things are opening up again, it is likely to remain much more common.
In the past, working from home was the privilege of novelists, farmers, and perhaps the live-in nanny! The World has changed, and, with high-speed internet readily available, conference calling and instant communications are easy. Working on the cloud, everybody can share and access documents, from anywhere. Suddenly the idea’s not so futuristic.
It has lots of benefits to personal lives (no commute, more free time, the possibility to cook our food, more interaction with family, the ease of child care and pet care…), benefits to businesses (reduced office overheads, instant contact by internet, happy employees, potential to employ from anywhere across the country, even globe…), and benefits to the environment (less traffic, less pollution, people buying less processed food…).
It looks set to become more and more the way things are.
We are aware of the benefits of working from home, but..! The lack of a dedicated office has drawbacks.
Many people couldn’t wait to get back to the office after lockdown. Complaints included the kids interrupting all the time, their back hurting from a dodgy chair, missing the company of others, and getting too easily distracted.
The discomforts and distractions of home-life could still cause the work-from-home train to fall off its tracks.
However, you can combat all these problems by reimagining your home office.
It’s time to take a good look at where we’re working.
For many of us, it was a quick turnaround office space - any desk, any chair, anywhere! It doesn’t have to stay that way. In fact, it can’t.
If we put our heads into it, we can feel comfortable and productive in a home-work environment.
With that time we are saving on the commute, we can take on some projects and make that space something more unique and personal.
Projects around your house are a great way to be active and draw benefits from our free time (another thing we need to remind ourselves to do when working from home!), as well as a chance to get creative.
So then, how can we make our home workspace work better?
There are lots of hints and tips out there of how to make your office space ergonomic and productive, but it’s also important that you LOVE your office space - and enjoy being there.
How do you imagine your ideal space? Clean and futuristic? Traditional and booksy? Open and airy? A dark cave where you can be alone with your thoughts?
Everybody is individual, and everybody works best in a different arena.
A comfortable seat and a suitable, dedicated desk are the center of any office. Make sure you have the best because this is where you will spend most of your waking life from now on.
If you’ve always dreamed of a grand oak desk and a leather chair, now you can have it.
The little extras
You might want to install a coffee machine or a fridge in your office. On the other hand, the excuse to leave the space and go to the kitchen every now and again may be welcome.
If you need to be creative, you might consider some muses - cuddly toys or a fish tank. Perhaps even a bed for your cat or dog. Dogs can also serve as a great reminder that it’s time to take a break!
Plants give a positive energy to any space, and help the air purity. You could create a jungle feel so that it feels like going to the office is stepping into another world. Or you could just have one or two plants that you can watch grow month by month.
A leather desk mat will help any space look more luxurious, and is also very handy for writing and for your mouse.
You might want some posters on the wall of your dream holiday destinations, to motivate you. Or perhaps photographs of your family. Or a painting that inspires you.
Then, of course, there are big projects that you can undertake to work towards that ideal space.
Installing a wall, or a door, to enclose your office might seem like a big task - but it’s likely to help you isolate yourself, and separate your work time from family / relax time.
It could be as simple as an (almost symbolic) curtain, or perhaps a solid, sound-proof, partition to make your office your office.
A standing workspace
Working in a standing position is excellent for your posture and gives you more energy throughout the day.
It also makes it possible to dance as you work - what more can you ask for?
For a standing workspace you want to have your keyboard / laptop, slightly below your elbows and the screen slightly below the height of your eyes. In other words, you might need to make some big(ish) changes to the office.
An office in the backyard
You can make a commute down your garden lane every morning and sit in perfect isolation in the shed, or workshop.
If you have a yard to play with, this is an amazing option. It is, at once, an inspiring location, and great to help you concentrate. You will be free from disturbances (except perhaps the chirps of that friendly bluebird at the window).
It’s possible to build a nice shed yourself, with light and heating, if you have the know-how, or the time to learn. You could also buy kit options or contract a good carpenter.
If creating an outbuilding seems a little too much, you might be able to improvise. My father used to write for the paper in a trailer parked amongst the blackcurrant bushes!
Far from the stresses of the commute - why not create an office where you feel relaxed?
The zen office
A tranquil space where you feel at peace. A zen office will help you concentrate and give you happiness.
This space would be minimalistic, so get rid of all the books, and perhaps place a bonsai tree or some simple plants.
Try to fill the room with natural light, earthy, gentle colors, and use softly-scented aromas to help you feel at peace.
Be sure to follow the principles of feng shui - such as positioning your desk in a commanding position, with full view of the room and the entrance.
You might also want to fill it with natural sounds.
Perhaps you want to flood your office with sounds of the beach, or the forest. Or have crisp, clean audio for your music - a powerful tool to help you concentrate and to inspire.
Take some time to create the perfect audio in your office. You could buy some quality speakers and place them around the office so you have a total audio experience when you put on your music.
Good audio and microphone will also be perfect for all those video-call meetings.
Image by The Lighting Judge
Good air quality and airflow is essential in your office.
You can work on getting the air perfect. If you have a window you can swing open and allow the air to flow, that’s great, but often it’s not that easy.
Perhaps consider buying a fan to move the air around, or even an AC unit, which will get the air temperature just right in summer or winter.
Again, certain plants will purify the air, and can also add humidity to the room.
Finally, why not work on getting the perfect lighting?
If your office isn’t naturally well lit, this might mean moving the location of your office. Or perhaps you might consider some remodeling and opening up a window to let the light flow in.
You also want to be able to control the lighting, especially when it gets dark outside. Neutral lighting that isn’t too glarey works best.
You should consider how you place lamps, or even adding lighting points to the room if it isn’t working right.
Remember, this must be a space that you love going into. Perhaps you want to personalize it - add some color, fairy lights around the roof, or maybe an atmospheric light that focuses on your desk.
Also consider eye-strain. Losing the commute means that many of us are spending more time looking at screens. Our eyes are suffering. Changing the lighting can help this. There exist desk lamps that help neutralize glare, for example, which are worth a look.
Your wow home office
Take a while to think about your ideal home office. Take notes, do some research, make a sketch, then get to it.
(That leather desktop mat I mentioned would be perfect to get sketching your ideas!)
I’d love to hear from you with ideas you have - or any projects you decide to undertake. Be sure to share a photo with us and leave a comment below.