Essential Tips for Practical Home Office Design
With self-isolation as the primary way we can decrease the spread of the COVID-19 infection, working from home has become the new way of life. And so, our home office design is something that needs to be reconsidered and redefined.
That is not to say that the traditional office set up has become redundant; offices were, are, and forever will be the nucleus of mass company working. However, the work-from-home movement has impacted society as a whole and is changing the way we perceive working remotely. During this pandemic, office workers are coming to recognize the shortcomings of their home working environment, and it’s our job as designers to make home offices both temporarily and permanently relevant.
We used to spend eight hours or more of completely structured time in our office buildings, but now we have to rewire ourselves to work from the privacy of our homes. That’s easier said than done—especially when our home offices are likely not designed to sustain a full-time working lifestyle, since we were previously using them infrequently and only when necessary.
So, given this dramatic change, what kind of a home office design should we be aiming for right now? How can we design something that will live through the global pandemic and become a future repository for office workers?
Separating the workspace
Let’s face it: not everyone has the resources or the real estate to design a full-fledged office room in their home. But the good thing is, you can simply dedicate a small part of your home as the office area. No need for a full executive desk, chair, and all the works—even a small alcove with a modern desk elevated by tiered wall-mount floating shelves can work well.
The ideal alcove should be comfortable and far away from distractions. Remember, just because you’re going for a small home office design does not mean that you have to compromise on quality. Here are a few good home office design ideas:
- Converting a closet: The easiest way to design a tiny home office is to convert a walk-in closet into a workspace. Typically, these closets are perfectly sized to fit a table. The recess makes a nice alcove where you can fit in a table and a chair. The rest of the décor is up to you. You can always add shelving (open shelves are the best choice). The lighting and paint can be dark and bold in color to stimulate your brain while providing an ambient environment.
- Table-against-wall setting: You don’t even need a nook or an alcove to carve out a small office area for yourself. You can just set up a desk and chair against a plain wall. This type of a home office design is just as efficient as a converted closet space. You can mount floating shelves on the wall or even just put up soft boards to stick important work notices and papers. Alternately, you can put decorative objects on this wall like frames, modern décor, clocks, canvases, etc. This home office layout is perfect for personalizing.
Window-side setting: You can set up a desk and chair in front of a window that has no other furniture placed around it. It can be in your bedroom or even the living area (as long as you’re able to work when surrounded by people). Note that the desk should be compact so as not to take a lot of space. The natural lighting can uplift your mood while you work and also provide a good distraction when you want to take a break.
- Under the stairs: Setting up a home office underneath the stairs is also a good option. There’s just the right amount of space to organize a table, mount some shelves on the wall, and create a cozy working environment that is out of the way. This is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to set up a semi-permanent home office design in your home. All you need is a table and chair. You can opt for folding or permanent furniture, depending on how lasting you want to make this space.
- Convertible wall-mount desks: If you’re really short on space and simply have no other way to design a comfortable home office design, then choose a convertible wall-mount desk. These are usually designed like a wall-mount cabinet, which opens up and unfolds into a desk. When you’re done, you simply clear off the clutter and fold it back inside the cabinet. The fold-in cabinet actually consists of compartments where you can keep all your office-related paraphernalia within easy reach.
Essentials of a professional home office design
A professional home office is more than just a converted space: it’s all your work requirements and comforts balanced into a single, well-designed, and comfortable room. Whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, or a CEO, here is a list of things that your home office needs in order to provide you with a comfortable, flexible, and user-friendly work environment:
1- An ergonomic chair
More than anything else, you need an ergonomic chair to enhance the experience of your home office design. A good chair must be flexible and comfortable, providing excellent lumbar support so your back doesn’t develop any aches. It should have adjustable armrests so you can fix them at a comfortable height while working on your computer. The headrest should also be adjustable so your neck won’t suffer every time you lean back. If possible, you should also get a foot stool so your legs don’t get tired when you have to sit in one place for a long time. And, of course, height adjustment is a must so you can position your body in the most comfortable position relative to your desk.
2- An excellent desk
You need a desk that works well for the size of your space. If you have a large home office, you can go for a full-sized executive desk, complete with multiple drawers, cabinets, a keyboard tray, and stationary compartments. However, if you’re working with a small area, then you need to get creative. You can use a simple table and find stationary and file holders to organize all your things.
Alternately, you can choose prefabricated modern office furniture such as the Nelson Swag Leg Desk, which is especially designed for small home offices. The sleek, simple design of such furniture can easily be featured in small spaces, and they have enough in-built compartments and file-space that you’ll need very little extra storage.
3- A no-distractions placement zone
The desk and chair may be key elements of a good home office design, but they won’t do you any good if the environment is not work-friendly. You need to find a no-distraction zone for your office area. If you cannot spare a whole room, then finding a quiet nook or alcove is recommended. If you don’t have any in your home, then you can just set up your office furniture against a bare wall so that you won’t face any distractions. You can also arrange your office layout in front of a window so that you can occasionally enjoy the view; however, this may not feasible for people who easily get distracted or live in neighborhoods with a lot of outside noise.
A no-distractions home office design becomes more feasible when you have an entire room. Then, you can orient your desk in a way that keeps you as focused as possible. You can add a small meeting area with a few chairs so that group discussions can be carried out in a more flexible arrangement. Lastly, you can design a private access for your clients or visitors. This entrance can also be used to isolate visitors to just your office during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4- The right lighting
You always need good lighting to feel productive. Natural light has a tendency to energize you and make you feel fresh. Therefore, try to set up your home office design in an area where there is an abundance of sunlight. A private office should have its own window that lets in an ample amount of natural light throughout the daytime hours.
You should also invest in a good desk lamp if you like to work at night. Make sure that whichever one you choose has the right CRI, adjustability, and design to suit the kind of work you do. For example, a desk lamp for architects would be completely different from a desk lamp for someone who works in finance or medicine.
5- An appropriate color scheme
A comfortable home office design should have an appropriate color scheme. A light, energetic color can make you feel calm and focused. Remember to pick a color that is understated and professional. It will help you get into a work mindset. Dull colors such as chocolate brown, hunter green, and royal blue are also a good option if you have a large space. They tend to make a room feel more majestic and royal, but they don’t work as well in small spaces. So, if you’re converting a walk-in closet into a workspace, it’s best to choose pastels. But if you’re working with a whole room, don’t be afraid to go a little bold.
6- Storage area
The storage area of a home office design includes shelving. Lots and lots of shelving. Usually, open shelves are used to feature important files, but if your profession involves a lot of paperwork then you should opt for large bookcases where you can keep everything organized. The shelves can also be used to feature décor. Floating shelves are a good way to balance décor and important office essentials.
You can also opt for vertical files if your work requires lots of paperwork to be within easy reach. If your profession is more about art, then try installing an inspiration board to keep track of all your important design ideas. You can find a lot of smart ideas on how to incorporate all these elements in your home offices on the internet.
7- Pleasant but minimal décor
A home office design requires décor elements, but too much accessorizing can get in the way. So, it’s a good idea to keep the décor minimal. Desk organizers and small planters are a good way to keep your décor functional. A smart floor lamp can make for a beautiful accent piece. An area rug and an inspiration board in lieu of actual artwork can make the walls feel livelier. It’s all about keeping it simple, functional, but visually pleasing—all at the same time.
8- Upgrade technology
You can upgrade your home office design with the latest gadgets to enhance your work experience and elevate your safety measures. Samsung’s Galaxy Z-Flip phone is a new technology that lets your phone touch screen be folded in half so it’s not exposed to any germs. Touchscreen laptops allow you to bypass the use of a mouse or a keyboard by using a digital pen to browse the screen. Bluetooth chargers also decrease contact points.
Working from home may be our new norm for the next few months. Therefore, our home office design needs to be as perceptive, ergonomic, and comfortable as we can possibly make it. We hope this guide helps you create a workspace that makes you feel professional and productive!