Working from home has its challenges, as seen in the previous post by Simone. The design of offices in general is quite vast and when it comes to the home office, it is quite particular to the setting.
Therefore, the following blog post is general but helps you to focus on the specifics of your home office. Essentially this post is about the design principles that helped Simone get her bedroom/ office functional and orderly.
First things first, purge. This is necessary when organising any space. It helps you to prioritise what is important and obviously get rid of things you actually don’t need. It definitely helps when you are battling to move about, and of course creates additional space. Ask yourself the question, do I really need this? If so, does it need to be in this room? This includes furniture.
Re-evaluate your layout. This is especially true if your room needs to be multifunctional. This means that like activities need to be grouped together. Working in your bedroom, often means that spreading out onto your bed and floor happens, or if you work at your dining room table, you probably stopped eating at it. Working at these areas are not necessarily bad things if you have grouped like tasks together, and you are able to designate a small section of your room to store work related things. So that when you are off to bed or want to eat, you can simply move your work to that section. If you don’t have a designated table, I recommend getting a box that can store your files, stationery and laptop, and at the end of the day you can put your stuff in it and put it to one side. Simone grouped all her work things to a desk in the corner of her room, which helped her not to spread out as much and help keep her thoughts on her work only when working.
What grouping also does is create a sense of harmony and flow for your eye, that will help lessen any overwhelming feelings that working from home creates. Grouping can be physically moving things together or it can be visually grouping things together with the use of colour, texture and line.
The line of the room
By line, I mean how your eyes travel in your space from one object to the next. Chaotic feeling spaces have your eyes bouncing everywhere from one item to the next. When your eyes move in a horizontal line, you immediately feel calmer and it tricks you into thinking your room is bigger. Similarly, creating a vertical line makes a space feel taller than it actually is.
Traffic flow is done by making sure that there is a clear direct path from one main activity to the next. It also helps to consider windows and doors. Obviously, this will have an impact on the placement of where your workspace will need to go. For Simone, she had to consider the direction of the sun so that she was not getting any glare onto her computer screen. She found that moving her desk to the other side of her cupboard shielded her from the sun. If you are not able to do that, try facing the window and to make sure that you are able to adjust your curtains or blinds as the day moves on. Reducing glare on your screen is important as glare can damage your eyes.
The most obvious office set up is the furniture that you use determines how pleasant working from home is. If you are not able to buy ergonomic office equipment, then I recommend getting a really good comfortable chair as that is what you are sitting on for most of the day. The correct height of your desk is important as well, this means that your elbows need to be at a 90 degree angle from your desk. And your screen at eye level or slightly below. Ergotron.com has a calculator for determining height ratios, I recommend using their heights to determine the heights of your furniture.
If a new desk and chair is out of the question then I suggest that you constantly move about your home, from one surface to another as aches and pains are caused by the same muscles in contraction and others relaxed for too long. This is where an office box as mentioned earlier can come in handy, or better yet, use a rolling cart. You can get a cute metal one from Mr Price Home or a bamboo one from Superbalist.
It’s in the small things
Instead of sticking up work notes and your calendar with Prestick or Sellotape, use a pin board or put your calendar in a frame and use a white board marker to write on it. Sellotape and Prestick tend to make things look far messier than they actually are. Again, when placing information on the wall, place them in groups and preferably into groups of 4, as symmetry creates a sense of calm. Cable management is also a very easy and quick way to get the visual clutter into harmony. Use bulldog clips or cable ties to keep all disorderly cables in order.
Studies have shown that placing plants in your environment decreases stress and increases productivity. In addition to these already amazing benefits, plants help with noise control, and there are plants specifically known for their air filtering qualities. An example is Aloe Vera which is known to filter out formaldehyde from the air.
The Zoom background
If you are in zoom meetings all day, and you are fortunate enough to have a blank wall behind you, take it as an opportunity to express your personality or business brand. Frame your company logo, place images up or a quote that represents you, or paint it a colour. Whatever you do, don’t make it too busy, or the pattern too tiny as these things may create Moiré patterns (that awful zig zag ‘moving’ pattern created by screens). If your background of a Zoom call is instead on an open room, perhaps invest in a screen that can be move about and be tucked away when not in use. This is beneficial as it not only stops the person you are talking to from getting distracted by the ‘going-ons’ behind you but it can also hide the mess. Win, win I say.
Once you are settled into your new home office, the benefits start to really outweigh the cons. If you are still in need of a home office makeover or renovation, give me a call. I am happy to help.