As this unprecedented pandemic sweeps across the globe, we are being asked to work from home as a safety precaution. Although I know we all crave human contact, this is a great time to set up a temporary workspace to make this time more bearable, or fix up your permanent home office. Who knows, it may become your favourite place to work!
Wherever you set up your home office, it needs to be comfortable, but still functional since you will be spending a lot of time there. A desk stuffed in a corner with a wobbly dining chair you use only every now and then is not a good environment to work in. A lot of us sit in bed or on the couch or even use the dining room table. This will work in a pinch but if you are spending long days there you will want a better set-up.
Tips for Designing Your Home Office Space to Be More Productive
The location of your workspace or home office will make or break it. Before picking the space, you need to first look at how you work.
Do you need to be isolated with no distractions, or do you focus better with some background noise? Taking some time to listen to your own feedback will help you determine where your office should be located in the house. If you want somewhere quiet, pick a space at the back of the house, upstairs or in the basement. Don’t pick a spot near where people gather to hang out, such as the kitchen or living room.
Consider how much space you will need. This will also determine where your office will go. You don’t want your workspace to feel like a cubical. Evaluate your rooms and see which ones are serving their purpose and which ones aren’t. A guest room that only gets used once or twice a year is a great contender for your new office.
Furniture placement can affect that overall feeling in the space. The way you decide to position your furniture is important when setting up any room. For an office space, the set up will be decided by what you plan on doing in the space.
If you plan to have clientele visit your house for meetings down the road, you’ll want a layout that supports that. For example, a desk facing the door with two chairs across from it where guests would sit. An occasional table in the middle of the two chairs provides a perch for coffee or a notebook.
If you know that it will only be you using the space, then a desk and desk chair may be all you need. If the space allows it, a comfy couch and coffee table are always an added bonus. too much togetherness can be just that and a place to retreat too may be good for everyone’s sanity.
It is a known fact that people who spend more time outside, or at least have access to daylight through a window feel healthier. Placing your desk next to a window if possible is a great option for your health, but also allows you to have a great view while working.
Choose Paint Wisely
Paint colour is another great way to make the office yours, and a space you feel comfortable in. Colour theory has explored may ways that a hue can affect mood and behavior. Many studies have been done on best paint colours for high energy spaces like prisons, school cafeterias, as well as soothing effects in hospitals. Operating rooms are often painted white to give us that sense of clinical cleanliness, fast food shops and restaurants use red or yellow to stimulate appetite, and some prison cells are painted pink in the hope of reducing aggression.
For your home office, pick a paint color that reflects your overall personality, or that gives the space a specific feeling.
- If you want a calm and relaxed mood, pastel colors are great options. More specifically light blues and greens.
- If you want a more energized space, bold colors like red, orange work well.
- If you are somewhere in the middle, soft hues like purple or pink can be used as both energizing but also calming.
Don’t settle for boring beige. If painting a whole room with a bold color seems daunting, start with an accent wall to bring color to the space without overpowering you. This is also a great place for a striking wallpaper or mural.
Here are a few ideas to prompt some ideas.
If colour is your thing, then maybe some cheery colours will help pick up your mood.
Firstly, think about repurposing furniture you already have. A desk, and chair, a dining table can have a new life.
We love this idea of using drapery to keep the messy part out of sight. Bonus: it will also damper sound if you are holding regular telephone or zoom meetings.
A bit of style will go a long way. This spot below is sleek and modern.
I would be happy to go to work at any of the home offices above. Make yours a destination!
Lastly, we have some tips to help you manage through disruption and uncertainty.
Top Tips for a productive focused workday at home
I asked my husband for some tips he shares with his patients. As a clinical psychologist he is getting many calls from people who are feeling the anxiety, cabin fever, and the stress on their relationships. Being sequestered indoors with loved ones can bring out the best and the worst in people. To help you stay productive here are a few things to help you manage.
Structure your workday
Shower and breakfast at the usual time. It is easy to fall into sloppy weekend habits and see the days fly by getting nothing done. A structured work break is also an essential part of resetting and maintaining productivity during work hours.
Plan a regular time each weekday to get exercise. Fresh air is a bonus. Clearing the mind is important to letting creative ideas flow.
Calm and Headspace are great apps but there are many podcasts that will help you get out of your head for a needed departure from inevitable worry thoughts.
Personal hygiene and beauty regimen
While a break from hair and makeup is welcome for a bit, taking a few moments to pick out something that might lift your mood is helpful especially on grey days or days when you may not feel your best. Even if you are not seeing people, it helps to feel your best when you look your best.
A good chair and desk set-up will go a long way to alleviate headaches that stem from poor posture.
Set boundaries, physical and virtual. Set blocks of time when you will check your email, or facebook, and let your kids know when you will be available for a playbreak.
Managing your feelings
Remember, it is not unusual for your mood to vascillate. At one point you may be flooded with worry thoughts and despair, another it seems like the new focus on family and shared downtime seems lovely. This is typical and will continue. It helps to remind yourself the waves are a normal part of this foreign experience.
16 responses to “Tips for Designing Your Home Office Space to Be More Productive”
Hi Judith ~
I enjoyed this post a lot, as I do work from home, and have now for 18 years. All of your points are so important, but most of all: daylight! It makes such a big difference to be positioned near a window with sunlight or daylight – as long as there isn’t glare on the computer screen that can’t be controlled through a pretty window treatment.
I love your tips on furniture placement and productivity! Great timing to read all of this great information.
Thank you Leslie. Daylight is so helpful in regulating mood, and sleep. I find my environment plays a big part in how I feel. I am lucky to have a psychologist in the room to help out.
Thank you. I guess we are all in this together. Some of us already have home studios. I know mine could use some help.
Everything is a-propos Leslie. Working spaces are hugely important right now so great advise and ideas!
We are spending so much time in them we need strategies!
Thanks for sharing these great tips. I appreciate that you gave thought to how you might use your home office now and later and gave us ideas of how to approach that.
THank you. I am busily making my workspace better at home, and I like it! Perching with my laptop can only hold me so long. I need a space to spread out.
Environment is everything! Great tips on creating a productive, efficient, and beautiful space for working from home!
Thank you. Always something to aspire to. Unfortunately in our small Victorian home sin TOronto many of us don’t have the extra space. But still, we can always improve.
Great tips and really like the idea of hiding things behind drapes!
Thanks, I love the drapes too.
This is perfect timing. I especially love your tip about using drapery. Brilliant!
Thank you Sheri. I love the drapery idea too and may use it in my diningn room to conceal all my sample books. The added bonus of absorbing sound will be really helpful when I am doing zoom calls.
This is such a thorough post Judith!! Love all your tips. I’ve been so out of sorts I’m going to start some new routines, yoga in the morning..Great pics too!
Thank you Deborah. I need to resume yoga or pilates in the morning too. That’s the only time I would get it in.