5 Tips for Improving Your Home Office
Remote work has become a staple for many of us. In the new hybrid world, we’ve had to get used to working from home at least part of the time.
Many WFH employees have outgrown the makeshift home offices they began the pandemic with and have started remodeling. If you need to revamp your outdated workspace but don’t know where to start, don’t fret. Here are five easy tips on how to make your home office feel more like home.
1. Determine the Extent of Your Renovations
To make your home office truly your own, the most popular approach is to renovate. With a little cleaner, paint, and elbow grease, you can make your workspace into a paradise. Begin your home office renovation with a thorough tidying and a deep clean. Only after you eliminate the clutter can you really decide what needs to be changed.
Once your purge is complete, you have two options. You can do a simple remodel, which may involve repainting, adding wall units, or refurnishing. Or you may decide to do something more intense, like knocking down walls or replacing fixtures. Remember that there’s a difference between a manageable remodel and an overwhelming one. Some projects you can DIY easily and safely with the right tools — but not all of them.
If you’re new to home improvement, there are projects that can be outright dangerous. There’s a chance you may want to knock down flimsy walls, for example, or add more electrical outlets. These more complicated endeavors will require the skills and experience of a pro. Doing it yourself could risk injury or even higher costs to repair your mistakes down the road. Companies like Angi can provide lists of vetted experts who can execute your home office renovations safely and professionally.
2. Select the Optimal Location
It’s common to locate a home office in a spare bedroom, but that’s not your only option. Maybe you don’t have a spare bedroom, in which case you’ll need to get creative.
If you have an available backyard, there are plenty of innovative ways to take advantage of this space. Many WFH employees have used sheds or pods as offices, installing Wi-Fi and air conditioning units to maintain the conveniences of home. All kinds of outdoor offices can benefit those who need light and fresh air to work. A backyard office can also simulate a miniature commute, putting you in the mental headspace to work.
If you lack outdoor space, look indoors to situate your home office. Rather than using a bedroom, try on your basement for size. Using an area comparatively removed from the rest of your home can provide you with extra privacy. This is especially important if you need quiet to hold calls with clients or work on high-focus tasks.
Don’t have a spare bedroom, backyard, or basement to use? A walk-in closet will work in a pinch. You can create space by taking out shelving units and installing a small desk. Should the space lack outlets, you can have some installed or run an extension cord from the neighboring room. While your workspace may be intimate, it will provide crucial separation from the rest of your home.
3. Prioritize Comfort
Sitting at a desk all day, no matter how cushy your chair is, can be hard on your body. Often, after a day of sitting, you could end up with tech neck and back pain. Choosing an ergonomic chair and/or a sit-stand desk can do much to head off shoulder pain and muscle strain.
But a fancy desk chair isn’t all you need in your home office. Consider other furnishings that will increase your comfort and optimize your productivity. Do you routinely reach for the same reference books throughout your workday? Install a bookshelf that’s within arm’s reach or use a small desktop shelf for easy access. A wooden filing cabinet can keep needed files handy and look good while doing it.
In order to make your home office a place for yourself, prioritize comfort. Consider adding at least one piece of furniture designed for relaxation. A comfy couch is the perfect place to read a long report or take a power nap. Not only will it add an element of luxury, it will benefit your general health. Buying an investment piece of furniture may not be cheap, but your comfort and happiness are worth it.
4. Let There Be Light
The unsung hero of any great home office is lighting. Natural light is preferred, if you can get it. The product of windows and skylights, this type of light is often called “soft light.” This is because natural light is much easier on your eyes. Soft light can provide relief for dry, irritated eyes that are overwhelmed from tech use.
If you don’t have much natural light in your office, you can always make some yourself. Halogen light bulbs are incredibly popular due to their similarities to natural sunlight. They can be used in many types of lamps and are sold in a number of sizes and wattages.
For more robust relief, consider light therapy lamps. These are useful for those diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, the sadness one can experience during darker months. These gadgets, which boost levels of the “happy chemical” serotonin, can help keep you in a motivated, productive state of mind.
5. Add Finishing Touches That Speak to You
Recognize that everyone’s home office needs are different. That swank Herman Miller desk chair your co-worker has been raving about may do nothing for you. So think about what’s important to increase your comfort and personal productivity.
If peace and quiet are necessary to your work, you may need to invest in soundproofing or a white noise machine. You may consider regular doses of caffeine essential: if so, devote some of your budget to an espresso machine. Or you could be someone who values natural light more than anything. In that case, you could add a new, larger window to your workspace.
This principle also applies to your home office decor. If clutter breaks your flow, keep furnishings minimalistic and office supplies contained and out of sight. You probably don’t need flourishes like houseplants or motivational posters. Or maybe surrounding yourself with your favorite trinkets helps you maintain an upbeat and can-do attitude all day long. Know yourself, and outfit your space accordingly.
Perhaps for the first time, you have a workplace that’s entirely yours. Don’t settle for anything less than your idea of a perfect office.