7 Ways to Improve and Upgrade Your Home Office
The home office has become a haven for many employees over the past few years, and it has its perks – that is, as long as you have the time and inclination to create a pleasant office space for yourself. There’s no better place to create a workspace that feels like home, and with these tips, you’ll have all the inspiration you need to create a space that takes some of the “hard” out of hard work.
Find the perfect room
Having an office in your home might sound pretty cool and convenient, but many full-time workers attest to the fact that it can actually be quite an emotional and physical drain. That’s why it’s so important to separate your home office from the places where you sleep, eat, and relax – so that when the time comes to shut down for the night, the working day doesn’t seep into your personal space.
The main consideration when choosing a room is to make sure you have enough space. Having room to move in your home office might feel like a luxury, but it’s really a basic health and safety measure. The space requirement per person in a standard office is about six square metres, so make sure your space meets that minimum requirement. Besides, you need to be able to fit a certain amount of furniture in your office space, and some pieces can be surprisingly bulky.
Get smart about devices
If you’ve ever spent hours waiting for a computer program to load or struggling with a malfunctioning printer, you’ll know the value of efficient, effective tech all too well. Make sure your home office is equipped to handle all of your technological needs, from a powerful computer and Wi-Fi connection to a high-tech printer. Better still, grab a multifunctional photo printer and you’ll be covered for just about anything you could need to print.
Not sure how to choose the right device for your office? Here are a few handy tips:
- Consider your work requirements. Are there certain programs and features you need? It’s a good idea to make a checklist and stick to it while you’re shopping around so that you can avoid the hassle of buying (and returning) a device that doesn’t meet your needs. At this stage, you should also make a point of talking to your boss about tax deductions for any devices you need for your home office, as this may influence your purchase decisions.
- Consider longevity. Having a fancy new device is great as long as it serves all of your purposes, but if it’s purely for work purposes, you might be better off saving your money for something else.
- Once you’ve narrowed down your options, talk to an expert. Without actually buying and using the device, talking to someone who has bought and used it is the best way to clear any potential red flags and make your choice clear.
Light it up
The right lighting is critical to workplace success for so many reasons. For starters, working in front of a screen all day isn’t great for your eyes, so arranging a well-lit workspace is the least you can do for yourself. You might be surprised at how different you feel just by illuminating the room around your glowing computer screen. Then there’s the matter of productivity. Studies have shown that natural light works wonders for productivity, mental health, and job satisfaction – and if you can’t actually do your work outside, it really is the next best thing.
Staying focussed in the midst of the social media onslaught and streams of emails can be challenging at the best of times, and it’s a whole lot harder when you’re uncomfortable. That’s why the right chair is one of the most important features of your office. When choosing a chair, look for one that supports your lower back and thighs, and aligns well with the height of your desk. Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for a physically stressful working life – because if there’s one thing no one needs any more of, it’s back pain.
Here are a few tips on staying physically healthy in the office:
- Stand up, stretch, and move around regularly. Better yet, invest in a standing desk! These are great for avoiding the dreaded aches and pains that too often come with sitting down all day. Most standing desk models can be adjusted to a range of different heights, allowing you to switch between sitting and standing positions throughout the day.
- Take opportunities for exercise throughout the day. It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle leads to all kinds of health problems over time, so do yourself a favour and make whatever small tweaks you can to flip the balance in your favour. Even something as simple as swapping the escalator for the stairs and drinking one less takeaway cappuccino per week could make all the difference – to your waistline, your wallet, and your state of mind at work.
- Get yourself some specs. If you, like many office workers, spend most of your working day staring into a screen, the cumulative effect on your eye health could be significant. The good news is that you don’t have to give up your job or throw out your computer, because blue light glasses block pretty much all of the harmful glare so that your retinas can live another day.
Invest in air quality
When people talk about creating an atmosphere for productivity, they’re not kidding – you really can influence how much work you get done (and how you feel about doing it) by improving the quality of the air. Air quality also heavily influences human health, even when you’re no longer sitting in an office filled with other people. If you want to maintain the air quality in your home office, these tips will help:
- Make proper ventilation a priority. Any room that doesn’t get enough air is prone to mould problems, which is the last thing you want in your office space.
- Commit to regular vacuuming and dusting. If you’re used to working in a shared (and regularly cleaned) office space, you might be surprised at how quickly dust can build up, and how bad it is for your health. A daily cleaning routine is the key to keeping it under control.
- Invest in an air purifier. If you’re not able to get a lot of fresh air into your office space, the stale air may become a health hazard. An air purifier is a perfect solution to this problem, eliminating several types of indoor air pollutants.
Speaking of air quality, adding plants to your home is a great way to give any room an instant oxygen boost. Some household plant varieties, including devil’s ivy, peace lilies and philodendron, can even filter nasty household chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene out of the air, counteracting the effects of harmful cleaners. Plus, as if we weren’t already indebted enough for this all-important service, indoor plants also have the power to create an air of lightness, tranquillity, and positive energy in the home. Studies have shown that being around plants is great for mental health, and many of the same chemical-quashing species are amongst the best boosters.
Here are a few tips on choosing the right plants for your office:
- Inspect your space. Before you go choosing your plant species, you need to know what conditions you’ll be bringing the plants into. If your home office gets limited natural light and the air conditioning is constantly blasting, you’ll need to choose plants that can handle those conditions.
- Do your research. Some species of plants are happy in an indoor space and able to thrive on very little natural light, while others simply don’t. So always check the care requirements for the plant species you’re interested in before you buy.
- Check your schedule. Just as some plants are particular when it comes to the perfect environment, others require much more attention than others. Make sure you’re prepared to take a little time out of your busy day to keep your new office companions happy.
Now that you’ve added a few dozen plants to your office space, it’s time to think about all the other decorative possibilities. Once upon a time, we all brought pieces of home to the office in the form of framed family photos and knick knacks, but since home has become the office for so many, the possibilities are practically endless. When you have a few hours to spare, give your walls a new splash of colour (hint: blue boosts productivity), hang some new artwork on the walls, or invest in a fancy colour-coordinated binder system for your documents. You might be surprised at just how much it brightens your day.
Creating the perfect home office is a job that many workers may not have had to do until recently, and one that comes with plenty of benefits. Whether you’re working from home on a permanent or temporary basis, it’s never a bad time to try out these tips and fall in love with your home office space.