The benefits to working from home can be big – no costly commuting expenses, greater flexibility and the freedom to get through your work day in a more relaxed way (as long as you still look professional from the waist up for that important Zoom meeting!).
One downside, though? You don’t have the luxury of accessing a beautifully appointed office in a conveniently-located commercial space.
But, whether you’re temporarily working remotely, or you’ve made a choice to run your own business from home, the steps to setting up your own impressive home office space don’t need to be stressful or costly.
1. Create dedicated office space
No matter what size your home or apartment is, creating a space that’s dedicated to you and your business needs is an important part of making your business run smoothly and successfully. If you don’t have the luxury of setting up a dedicated desk – just for you and your business – create your own special space at the dining table or kitchen bench that is off-limits to other members of the household.
By approaching your home work time as time spent at your office, you can experience greater focus and clarity – and that means a boost in productivity.
2. Be clean and organised
Cluttered spaces really do lead to cluttered minds. Avoid the confusion and chaos by keeping your dedicated area clean and tidy. To help you stick to keeping clean, pretend your area is a hot desk you share with someone else and make sure that each time you finish work for the day (or night) you remove dirty dishes, rubbish and any other mess. Creating clever storage solutions for paperwork, as well as easy access to chargers and electrical outlets, is a good way to keep your desk clear, as well as your mind.
3. Have the appropriate technology at your fingertips
If at all possible, setting up your home office technology in the same way it would be set up in a commercial premises is a smart way to help stay in the productivity zone. Depending on your work, that will look different for everyone but might include a quality phone headset, multiple monitors, as well as a scanner/photocopier. Making sure you have access to the right software is also critical for optimal efficiency, but if you are on a tight budget, exploring the benefits of affordable alternatives, such as Canva for basic graphic design needs instead of a program like Adobe Photoshop, can save you lots of money.
4. Let inside/outside flow
Access to fresh air and exercise is a great way to stay alert and healthy. If possible, set your home-office station up close to a window with a view. By feeling connected to nature, you’ll be happier and probably more productive.
If looking outside isn’t possible in your home-office space, look for affordable indoor plants that can add a touch of fresh greenery to your working day.
5. Ergonomics matter
Aches and pains caused by poor computer placement can kill your creativity. Invest as much as you can afford into a quality desk chair or standing desk configuration to best suit your needs and work habits. Ideally, your computer screen should sit around 75 centimetres from your face. Raising your laptop or monitor so it is at eye-level will minimise neck damage and tight shoulders. Keeping feet flat on the floor can make a positive difference and if typing takes up the bulk of your computer time, aim for creating a set-up that has your hands and wrists angled slightly downwards – for maximum comfort.
6. Comfort, without relaxation
If your mind needs to stay sharp for a long work day, you need to aim for comfort that’s not too comfortable. Productivity and creativity can suffer when you are relaxed to the point of feeling drowsy, so make sure you keep the space professional for the best possible work outcomes.
7. Well-lit home offices that work
If you can utilise natural light, definitely do! Not only is it more cost-effective, natural light can also be a fantastic mood-booster that can help your energy levels keep up with the demands of your day. If you can’t be close to a window, aim to make the artificial lighting white and cool to replicate the natural feel of sunlight as much as possible. Consider extra lamps, if needed, to throw some light into dark corners.
8. Your cool home-office
Stuffy, over-heated rooms with no fresh air can be a one-way ticket to Snoozeville – and can definitely impact on your clear thinking and decision-making. But, if you’re too cheap to run the heating at all, those cold, crampy fingers of yours might not type as fast as they should.
Find the middle ground – both for your own comfort and your utility bill budget – and consider clothing that doesn’t weigh you down or feel too cumbersome.
9. Create easy access to drinks and snacks
Wandering off every half-hour to inspect the contents of your home fridge or pantry can be a big time-waster in your work day. Treat it like a regular office and consider creating a lunchbox of food you need to get through your day. That way, instead of taking too much time to prepare food when it’s time to take a break, you can simply grab the food you’ve got ready and go for a wander outside, or around your house, to get your body moving and your mind re-energised.