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In today’s interconnected business world, driving to and from work and dealing with traffic has become a thing of the past for millions of workers in the United States. Their morning commute consists of a short walk from the bedroom or kitchen to a home office. And it’s not just companies that have employees who work from home. The Small Business Administration reported that 50% of firms are home-based businesses with no physical location or storefront. If you run a home-based business or work remotely for a company that allows its employees to telecommute, your home office design is extremely important.
Having the proper home office setup can help you be more productive and comfortable and help prevent distractions. In this Balboa Capital blog article, you will learn six ways to create a great home office you’ll love. One that meets your needs so you can get more work done each day and enjoy doing it.
It starts with planning.
Designing your home office begins with planning. Sure, you could place a computer or laptop on a kitchen table, have a printer in the living room, and store your files and business documents in a bedroom closet. But think of how inefficient and disorganized that sounds. To be productive, you need a dedicated area where everything is organized and readily available.
1. Pick a space for your home office.
Perhaps the first step is to decide where to set up your office space. This is an easy decision if you are fortunate enough to have a spare room in your home or apartment. If not, you will need to be creative and look for a space with enough room for all your needs and close to an outlet so you can plug in electronics. You should also ensure that the area has plenty of natural light and air circulation. And, of course, the space should be located away from things that can interrupt your workflow. For example, you might find it difficult to focus if your workstation is located in a living room or a kitchen.
If you have family members or roommates living with you, you will need some privacy while you work. Engaging with people every so often while you work is perfectly fine, but it is essential not to let anything interrupt you. Televisions, music, kitchen noise, and people talking and laughing can make it hard to focus on your daily tasks. If you have children in the home, it might make sense to have a dedicated area for them instead of trying to co-mingle their play with your work during the day.
2. Make your home office private.
Home offices in dedicated rooms offer the ultimate in privacy and noise reduction. But if your home office is located in a dedicated space, such as an unused corner of a room, a den, a large closet, or under the stairs, you can still make it private without spending a small fortune. One popular way to do this is by adding a stand-up room divider next to your workspace. Room dividers are freestanding and available in many different sizes and colors, so you can choose one that fits your space and blends in with your décor.
Another way to add privacy to your workspace is to use an existing piece of furniture as a visual room divider. For example, a bookcase can hide your office area from view, especially if you fill it with books, picture frames, and other accent pieces. Next, many people who work from home install curtains to make their work areas private. You can hang curtains from the ceiling or on a curtain rod affixed to a do-it-yourself (DIY) room divider made of PVC pipe or wood.
3. Get proper lighting.
The lighting in a home office can make or break the way you work. Research shows that bright light can reduce productivity and cause headaches, and low light can cause unnecessary strain on the eyes. So, it is essential to outfit your home office with lighting that isn’t too bright or dim. Many factors affect the lighting in a space, including the type of lighting (natural light vs. artificial light), the amount of natural light coming in from windows, and how much artificial light is used.
The work you’re doing also affects how well-lit your office should be. For example, if you’re working on a computer all day long, you’ll want to position your desk away from a window that receives direct sunlight. Bright sunlight that casts a glare on a computer screen can strain your eyes, making it difficult to see what you are typing and reading. If you are set on working near a window, you can reduce the glare by closing the window shades or blinds and illuminating your space with a desktop lamp or other artificial lighting source. LED light bulbs are available in various color “temperatures” (e.g., warm amber, soft white, cool white) and have extensive lifespans. Plus, LED lights are environmentally friendly and do not contain mercury products.
4. Choose the right office desk.
There are many desks to choose from, and the goal is to pick one that is both functional and comfortable. It would help if you first considered how much available space you have. If you have a small workspace, select a desk that will not take up too much room or make you feel cramped. On the other hand, a bigger desk might be the best option if you have a large work area. Some desks have built-in storage, which will help keep your work area organized and neat. Other desks do not have storage options or drawers, so consider this before making a purchase. Also, ask your accountant if the desk and other home office equipment you need are eligible for a home office tax deduction.
Once you have decided on the size of office desk you need, make sure it has a suitable height. If your knees bump the desk and you are forced to lower your desk chair, your posture may be affected. Over time, slouching in a desk chair can cause back and neck pain. Most desks have an industry-standard height of between 20 to 30 inches, but some manufacturers offer custom-sized desks that are higher. There are also stand-up desk options that can be raised and lowered with a button, allowing you to work seated or standing.
5. Make your home office ergonomic.
An ergonomic workstation can improve the comfort and safety of the worker. Ergonomic workstations are usually adjustable in height and depth so that the worker can find a position that suits them best. Plus, just about everything involved with the 8-hour workday can be optimized for ergonomics and comfort, including:
- Height-adjustable desks
- Office chairs with armrests
- Back pillows
- Adjustable footrests
- Desk pads
- Computer mouse
- Wireless charging stations
- Monitor glare screens
- Anti-fatigue floor mats
6. Make it personal and fun.
You will be spending up to eight hours a day in your home office, so why not give it a nice appearance? Working in an environment with nice decorations, artwork, colors, and design can make you happy and productive. Simple things like throw rugs, picture frames, wall art, floating shelves, and pegboards are a great way to personalize your home office space and make it a reflection of you and what your interests are.
To save money, look around your home or apartment for furniture and other items that can be upcycled and repurposed for your home office. For example, side tables, dressers, wood crates, and mismatched shelves can be used to help transform the look of your office space and provide storage options.
Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the Small Business Administration. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.