5 Steps to create an inspiring, productive home office space
If you work from home, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise: A recent study by Workopolis, a careers website, reveals that nearly 90 percent of people who work from home believe they’re more productive than if they worked in a traditional office. But let’s face it: Working from a home office isn’t always easy. There are distractions to deal with, from barking dogs to family members who don’t always grasp the concept that you’re actually working.
One way to set yourself up for success? Make your home office or workspace as inspiring and productive as possible. Follow these five strategies from Tonya Dybdahl, design manager with National Business Furniture, which provides workplace furniture and design consultation for businesses.
Give furnishings a homey feel
Most entrepreneurs like to create spaces that meet their needs while still blending in with their homes. “With today’s office furniture trending towards a ‘resimercial’ feel, it’s easy to create a workplace paradise in the same spaces you share with your loved ones,” she says. Use homey furniture, such as hutches and bookcases, rather than bulky office cabinets, and choose seating areas that are both comfortable and stylish.
“This trend of home-furnishing style with commercial-quality office furniture has led to a lot of beautiful pieces that have high-tech ergonomic benefits, such as sit/stand desks that look great, stylish chairs with multiple adjustment points, file cabinets with cushions on top so your little ones can come sit with you, and materials that are designed for all-day comfort,” says Dybdahl.
Another benefit of comfortable furnishings: “If you’re comfortable at your desk, you’re much less likely to seek out that cozy couch instead,” she says.2
Choose the location carefully
“Since you’re not beholden to a lot of traditional work-from-home rules of thumb, you need to modify the workday and surroundings to fit your unique set of needs.” For example, if you often need to switch gears between working and taking care of the kids, “there has to be a physical structure that makes it easy to manage both,” she says. “The sanctuary of a private office is great, but keeping an eye on the kids isn’t feasible with the door closed and headphones on.” Instead of setting up shop in a spare room, consider building out a corner of a shared area, such as a dining room, to create a nontraditional workspace that keeps family members in your line of sight. At the same time, Dybdahl suggests, “make adjacent areas a fun, kid-friendly place where your little ones will want to stay and play.”
Let in the light
“Nothing elevates your mood like the difference between a sunshiny day versus a cloud-filled room,” Dybdahl says. Mix up ambient lighting from your living space with focused task lighting in order to direct your attention to what you’re working on. In addition, seek as much natural light as possible, and make the most of it.
One idea: Put a bird feeder in a window for a little bit of action along with the sun’s rays.
Bring in the joy
While your home is surely full of memories and mementos, Dybdahl suggests saving some of the most joyful ones for the areas adjacent to your workspace. Your vision board and photos of smiling faces from your recent trip to the pumpkin patch all serve to remind you of your “why” and should take center stage. “Your memories and hard work made those smiles possible, and there’s no better inspiration than that,” she says.
Keep safety in mind
Since you’re likely working in the midst of your living space, you’ll want to make sure that your furniture has the safety features you need, Dybdahl advises. For instance, all vertical pieces should be fully secured to the wall to prevent tips and falls, while storage pieces for work-related items should lock. Hardware often comes with sleek, squared-off sides that can be abrasive on skin. When possible, select gentle, rounded accents. In addition, invest in cable-management runners to keep cords out of the way of traffic.
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