We might be moving into a phase of easing out of lock-down but, for a lot of us, working from home will continue for the foreseeable future. I'm so lucky to have a dedicated garden office which was completed just before we went into lockdown. I've been spending time moving in, decorating and getting it just so! I've designed lots of office spaces over the years - but designing and decorating my own office has given me extra focus on what you need to make it work. Here are my 6 must haves if you are considering a more permanent home working solution.
1. Storage. For most of us work does require equipment of some sort (files, books, reference materials etc. ) but you don't necessarily want it all on show. In fact, I’d encourage you to keep as much of it hidden as possible. It really is true that for most of us it is much easier to focus and have clarity on the task in hand when our surfaces are clear of clutter. Have a think about what you need to do your job and plan some closed storage to keep everything tidied away. It could be dedicated office storage / a filing cabinet or perhaps a bedside cabinet can be reutilised to hold essentially stationery items and files?
2. Display. There will be some items that you want to keep on hand and on display. If you are on Instagram I did an IGTV on different ways to display key information - such as important phone numbers, sales figures, inspiration boards, or space for brainstorming. Consider using pin boards, peg boards, black boards, white boards or cork boards - there are so many options! It's a great opportunity to be a bit creative and make the space welcoming and work for you.
3. Work space furniture. Having a dedicated desk and an office chair are a must. I probably should have put this first as it is something you really need to get right and it is so often overlooked. Lots of us are used to grabbing a tablet or laptop and working on our knee on the sofa or in bed. Whilst this might work for the odd late night email catch-up this is far from ideal for a long term working solution. In carving out a dedicated work space getting a desk and a proper office chair are REALLY important. If you are spending any amount of time sat at a desk, and you want to avoid future back and joint problems, then you need to invest in a chair that will support your back and get the ergonomics right. Posture People have an article on setting up your chair correctly. This also guides you on setting your desk and monitor to the right height to avoid back and neck strain.
4. Lighting. Lighting is essential to your work space. If you are lucky enough to have natural light then that is ideal. Working from home may allow you to be more flexible with your hours - and you may find yourself working after dark once the children are in bed - and, of course, in the winter we have fewer hours of natural light. A good task light for your focused work / desk area is a good idea - especially to avoid eye strain from staring at a bright monitor or screen. If you are building a new dedicated work space or garden office then plan in lighting that gives you flexibility. The LED ceiling panels in my office can be dimmed and set to a warm white, cool white or daylight white setting - so I can adjust for light levels, the time of day, or the task at hand. If I am working on a colour scheme then the daylight setting is great but whilst sorting out my samples library warm white is easier on the eyes.
5. Colour. Using the right colours in your office space will help you to work more effectively. Blue is the colour that is thought to aid concentration so this is a great choice for a work space. It's also the worlds favourite colour so a fairly safe choice! However, do think about what YOU need from a work space. We don't all work the same way. Do you often find your energy lagging and struggle to stay motivated? In that case you might want to add a dash of orange to help energise you and keep you feeling happy. Use sparingly though - a dash of bright colour is all you need. If you need help in staying calm and relaxed whilst working then, along with blue, you could consider green. These colours are soothing and can also help connect us to nature. Use lighter tones and shades of colour to keep the space fresh, light and airy.
6. Plants. I'd encourage you to have real plants in EVERY room in your house but especially important in your work space. Having a view of nature is known to have a calming effect. Positioning yourself with a view to a garden or green space if you can is great - but in addition bringing plants IN will be beneficial. They are known to reduce stress, we generally feel more motivated and positive with plants around us, they can reduce noise, and they clean the air and help with humidity levels!! They are a MUST!
I hope you have found this useful but if you need more hints and tips or want help designing your work office then my Design Consultancy service can help. Get in touch!