According to the Global Workplace Analytics research, over 50% of US workers hold positions compatible with telework at least part of the time. Between 20 and 25% of the workforce telecommute regularly (at least one day per week). The trend indicates that even more employees will be working from home, at least for a portion of the workweek, well into the next decade. If you’re one of those work-from-home people, the kitchen or dining room table just won’t cut it long-term. A home office is the solution to this issue.
All offices need the basics to work – good organization, solid furniture, and appropriate lighting. But within those elements, everyone’s needs are a little different, so you’ll want to take the time to check out Pinterest and other home sites for inspiration to create a home office suited to your needs.
The first step to setting up a workable home office is knowing its dimensions, so you can determine what furniture you need, which accessories to use, and where to place everything in relation to the windows and electrical outlets. Create your floor plan using graph paper or use a free online tool to plan your layout.
Consider the space—an important element for ensuring that your office doesn’t feel crowded and claustrophobic. Can you move easily side to side? What’s the traffic flow? Sit back from your desk? A professional’s rule of thumb for laying out workstations is to allow for a space that’s 60 inches wide and 84 inches deep.
Since you’re spending a significant amount of time in your home office, it’s important that your furniture is ergonomically correct. Ergonomic furniture means less back pain and fewer headaches. You may want to ask yourself:
- What are your needs and what demand(s) will you ask of your home office? Will you have clients in your office or share it with another person, or is it just you?
- Do you want a free-standing desk or a built-in desk? Most desks stand 29 to 30 inches high, are 49,60, or 72 inches wide, and 24, 30, or 36 inches deep. Get the largest desk that fits comfortably in your space.
- Are you attracted to adjustable desks that allow you to sit or stand while working?
If you’ve got a limited budget, invest your dollars in a good, comfortable desk chair, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting. Try out chairs at an office supply shop. Make sure that the chair is completely adjustable so that you optimize your work height to avoid straining your eyes when you’re looking at the computer monitor or working at your desk. Remember to factor in your chair’s footprint. Most chairs need about 42 inches clearance, not including space for your knees.
What kind of storage do you need? You can hire someone to build custom cabinetry, or you can buy things off the shelf. Whether it’s small cupboards, filing cabinets, cubbies, or shelves, the varieties are endless. When strategizing your storage, consider:
- What are you storing?
- How much storage do you need?
- How much space do you have for storage?
- How do you like to store things? Are you a stacker? If so, consider using baskets. If you like a clean desktop, designate a drawer for your “to do” papers.
- Do you like flexibility to change things up? Think about using wooden or metal cube storage in lieu of bookshelves. You can move the cubes around as your needs change.
- Are you a shelf person? Bookshelves work great, but so do floating shelves, depending on your needs. Most bookshelves measure about 12 inches deep by 14 to 16 inches high.
There is a wide variety of storage options available. For example, the dimensions of standard two-drawer file cabinets are 15 inches wide by 30 inches high and 29 inches deep. Flat storage filing cabinets—those favored by those who need to store large-format prints like architectural plans and artwork, typically have the following dimensions: widths of 38, 44, or 50 inches and depths of 26, 32, and 38 inches. The height, usually about 54 inches, depends on the number of drawers you need and can safely stack. Generally, filing cabinets require a footprint of between 40 and 60 inches wide and 50 to 80 inches deep to work properly.
Tame technology whenever you can. Get a wireless router, printer, and mouse. Add a grommet to the top of your desk so you can more easily lead wires from below. Attach visible cords to a desk leg or the desk’s underside. Or use a cord tamer or zip ties to gather wires together.
The average American worker spends about seven hours a day in front of a computer screen. OSHA recommends that, to protect your eyesight, you should direct desk light and other light away from your line of sight to reduce the glare on monitors that often forces you to squint.
Other tricks to maximizing your home office lighting include:
- Choosing window treatments that allow more natural light to shine in while you’re working.
- Adding mirrors to reflect the light, especially if your home office is oriented in a shadier part of your home or is in the home basement with limited windows.
- Keeping light indirect, with lamp shades that soften and scatter harsher light or using up-shining floor lamps that reflect light off walls and ceilings.
- Using an adjustable desk lamp aimed at your desk, not the computer monitor, for focus-intensive tasks.
- Positioning your monitor so that the windows are next to the work station rather than in front of or behind the screen. If you’ve got the option to orient your workstation north or south, you’ll also avoid the shadows that sunlight casts throughout the day.
- Adding accent and decorative lighting to enhance your office’s character.
- Painting walls a lighter color -but do choose colors that you love. The trendy colors for 2018 include a minimalist palette of soft, washed pastels, shades of blue, vibrant yellows and greens, and metallic and neutrals. Check out this Pinterest board for other color trends for this year.
This article, from Remodelista, offers some great tips on lighting your home office most effectively.
If you already have a home office but have an unused space, check out what to do with your bonus room!