Best home office design now AND after COVID-19

So you’re stuck at home trying to work for eight hours (or more) in a space the size of a closet, spread out on the kitchen table, or even the floor! 

"Regardless of how you’ve set up your makeshift office, you realize WFH isn’t what you thought it would be."  

It’s cramped, uncomfortable, inefficient and clearly a visual eye sore!  Maybe it’s temporary during the COVID-19 crisis, but possibly a permanent change when things return to normal. Time magazine calls it "the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment" and although many of us were already working this way, the rest of us just weren’t prepared. 

Gallup analytics found that 43% of US employees work remotely some or all of the time.  Forbes recently reported that it’s become "the standard operating mode" for at least 50% of the US population to work from home. And these stats were BEFORE the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Forced quarantine could become the catalyst for even more companies to embrace this style of working, particularly with the uncertainty of possible virus outbreaks in the future."

"The writing’s on the wall. Whether by personal choice or company mandate, your home office is here to stay so it’s worth considering a more permanant investment in this space, rather than a temporary stop gap.

"A well designed home office will pay big dividends in the long run, in terms of your productivity and general happiness."

Regardless of whether you can do it all at once or need to phase over time, it’s essential that you approach it holistically, rather than piece meal..A thoughtful design plan will insure that whatever your timing and budget permits, the end result will be a comfortable, efficient and inviting space that motivates you to get things done! 

A great home office starts with the basics and builds from there. So I’ve put together my top 5 design tips to help you put it all together.  This plan gives you what you need right now during the quarantine, but will also carry you through the next phase of WFH.

BEST HOME OFFICE DESIGN

1.  KNOW YOUR WORK STYLE

2. FIND YOUR SPACE AND CREATE A LAYOUT

3.  CHOOSE FURNITURE WITH CARE

4.  LIGHTING IS KEY!

5.  ACCESSORIZE FOR WELL-BEING

 

1.  KNOW YOUR WORK STYLE

"Before ordering the first thing, make sure you are designing the space to match your most productive work style."  

Do you typically stand or sit at a desk? Or is it a combo of desk work and lounging?  What time of day are you most productive and how does the lighting affect you?  And finally, what motivates you when you’re working? A beautiful desk that is well organized, interesting artwork, or maybe just a good view?

 

 

 2.  FIND YOUR SPACE AND CREATE A LAYOUT

 Choose a space that is condusive to your work style. If you crave natural light, avoid an area that is dark or windowless. Move around alot?  Even If square footage is a premium, it may be worth carving your office out of a seciton of your living room or a bedroom where you can spread out. For a more cohesive look in shared spaces, think multi functional pieces that blend with your decor.

"If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated room for a home office, you probably haven’t changed it up in a while so it’s a good time to reaccess how functional it is for you now."

You may find that you are using this room more than ever during the pandemic. Besides being your office, has it become your hideaway for reading or catching up with friends by phone? Look at the space with a fresh perspective and design it accordingly.

The next step is to pick the type of furniture that works best for you. For example, you’ll want a work surface of some kind, a task chair and maybe a sofa, end table and reading chair. Use standard dimensions and drop them in a scaled layout of your space. If you find that it doesn’t all fit, adjust sizes or eliminate. This provides a general guideline for dimensions when searching for specific pieces.

 

 

3.  CHOOSE FURNITURE WITH CARE

"Ask me what piece to start with, and I will always say the task chair!  It is the best investment you can make to improve productivity. And at the end of a long day, you will be a much happier person! "

Steelcase says the Gesture (above left), is "the first chair designed to support our interactions with today’s technologies". Other chairs may look pretty but how are they supporting your body through different motions during the day? If you want a more residential look, there are many other options that still give you good back support. 

 

 "If the task chair is the YIN, then your work surface is the YANG.  They go hand-in-hand and each is essential to the function of the other."

For sitting, your desk height should be around 30″, with a task chair that is adjustable. The idea is to position yourself so that you are looking straight at the computer screen, not bending your neck up or down, which causes all kinds of aches and pains. For the best stand up desk, look for one that adjusts up to 46″, to give you maximum flexiblity.  Or opt for a L-shaped combo, like my favorite one above, that provides multiple work surfaces and two different heights. Perfect for video conferencing!

The other furniture is not as critical as the task chair and desk, so you have more latitude to pick pieces that express your personality.  Have fun with a colorful reading chair your can curl up in, or lounge on a sleeper sofa that works double duty as a bed for weekend guests.

 

 

4.  LIGHTING IS KEY!

"Your home office should have three different levels of lighting to support all the things you will be doing." 

Task lighting is the most important of all, to prevent eye fatigue when doing long periods up-close work. But don’t ignore the other two.  General lighting, such as recessed or flush mount ceiling lights, illuminates the entire room so you can move around safely and is considered the best for computer work because it’s diffused rather than concentrated light. Natural light is also considered general lighting and can be a big boost to a room during the day. Accent lighting, like floor and table lamps, is less utilitarian but adds more ambience and character to your space. 

 

5.  ACCESSORIZE FOR WELL-BEING  

Now that you have all the functionality worked out, it’s time to add the "personal" layers.  This is where you need to do some soul searching to hone in on what makes you happy and energized when you’re in your office. Think of the room as a shell and pay attention to each surface, from floor to ceiling.

"Only bring in things that will lift your spirits, not bring you down. The goal is to create a unique space that speaks to you."

My suggestion is to start with the color.  You may already have a favorite but if not, do a little research on color psychology to find your best match.  You may be surprised.  Also think about different ways to apply the color, to fit your work style.  If you do daily video conferencing, paint one wall a neutral gray or beige for the best backdrop.  Or consider a dry erase wall paint  in white or clear if you like a big canvas to scribble out your thoughts. Maybe you do your best thinking when lying down so paint the ceiling a vibrant yellow to stimulate creativity. 

 

Floor coverings serve so many purposes, like sound and temperature insulation.  But they can also be a focal point in your office.  I love to add a very colorful rug and then keep the walls neutral, such as a soft blush color, so that the space feels calm, yet interesting.  Your line of vision is above all the color in the rug most of the time but then you get a glimpse of it when moving around – just enough to excite the senses without overwhelming. 

 

 

We all know that having plants around can give you a sense of well-being so they are a good choice for your home office.   But did you also know that certain plants act as natural filters for airborne allergens?  One of my favorites, the Chinese Evergreen, is low maintenance and its bright pink and green leaves are an added color bonus!  If you want to stick with green, the Boston Fern, which is considered a natural humidifer, is another winner!

 

I finish up with artwork, not because it’s the least important, but because I want to leave you with this thought.

"Artwork is one of the most personal elements in your office and has the ability to heal so choose carefully"

You will be staring at these pieces for many hours, days and years ahead so make sure they bring you positive energy.  Explore different genre and media to zero in on what you like. And remember…

This is your private space. The only person you have to please is yourself! 

***

If you find the whole process of creating your home office overwhelming or just don’t have the time, we can help!

We will work with you to design a space that not only functions properly for the way you work now, but expresses your personality as well.  Get in touch so we can discuss your ideas.

 ***

"EMBRACE THE JOYS OF GOOD DESIGN"

 

 Joan Waddell, KYCID #0050, Allied ASID, NCIDQ

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07/24/2021 by triachhaG

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