In a number of past articles including London Office Return To Work – Hybrid Model For London Office Fit Out, London Office Fit Out Trends In 2021 and The Ever Changing Office Landscape in Response to COVID-19 – Working From Your Home Office plus Financial Times Employers aim for hybrid working after Covid-19 pandemic and The Daily Mail publications Will WFH go on forever? Firms say they’ll look at ‘hybrid models’ instead of sending all workers back to the office after Canary Wharf chief revealed ‘gradual’ return to desks will start from March 29 it’s clear that moving forward in today’s pandemic world, the home office will play a role in the move to a hybrid mix of remote and office work.
In this article we look at how to setup the perfect home office and what to consider to ensure it’s a productive workspace. It’s important that when it comes to your home office it should not only be a space where you can get your work done efficiently but that it’s a comfortable and inviting space to spend time in, given that you will probably spend around 8 hours a day there.
To get the perfect setup consider the following:
Where you situate your home office is key to how well it will enable you to get work your done. The key to selecting the right place will depend on the space available to you. When you leave your home and travel to your workplace you automatically go into a work mindset. When you work from home it can be harder to achieve this but by having a dedicated home office you can trigger this mindset at home. A dedicated (permanent/semi permanent) workspace within your home can set the tone and get your mind and body into “work mode” as soon as you enter the space.
If your home doesn’t allow for a separate dedicated space the next best thing is the quietest area in your home. You’ll want to select a space that is as free of distractions as it can be. Even at work there are distractions, however at home there are so many additional things that can take up your attention and get in the way of a productive day. Choosing a space that is quiet (or quieter than the high traffic areas of your home) will help you to concentrate on the task in hand.
It’s also important to ensure the space you choose is not only quiet but also has sufficient natural light (and ambient light for when it gets dark), temperature control and access to fresh air. We know that natural light is vital to health and well-being as well as productivity. Having the right temperature and ventilation is also important as working in hot and stuffy conditions can make it impossible to concentrate.
Your Home Office Layout
Ensure your office workspace has enough space to work comfortably. It’s very easy to underestimate how much space you need so take the time to measure out an area that will allow you to move about freely and don’t forget to include legroom. There’s nothing worse than working in a cramped area.
Ergonomics are also important. An ergonomically well-designed office space will help you to reduce muscle strain and pain (including lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain); repetitive strain injuries including CTS and eye strain.
You should also be investing in a good quality, ergonomic office chair that’s comfortable and adjustable, if possible. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘Seating At Work’ guidance provides advice on how to ensure your office seating is safe and suitable.
Once you’ve found your ideal chair the next step is to think about what kind of desk you’ll want. This could be a ‘standard’ office desk, a stand up desk, a built in desk which forms part of a larger piece of furniture, a computer desk with shelving or something custom built for your needs. Select a desk that is wide enough for your computer and anything else necessary to do your work. Think about what tasks you’ll be performing – what will your desk be used for and what equipment will your desk need to accommodate?
Your final desk choice should also take desk height into account. Health by Design explain “When properly seated you should be able to maintain a forearm-to-upper arm angle between 70 degrees and 135 degrees. Most work surfaces fall within 28″ to 30″, which is a good sitting height for most people between 5’8″ and 5’10” tall.” However these are just estimates. You should be prepared to change your work surface height to suit your individual needs.
Another thing to consider is where your desk should be placed. Will it be positioned in the corner of a room, against a wall, along more than one wall or freestanding? To avoid distractions consider turning your desk away from your office door. Try to place your desk where there is natural light but avoid direct sunlight which can reflect off your monitor screen causing glare, making it difficult to read your screen.
Look at what other furniture will be required including storage shelving or cabinets, printer and fax machines, shredder, floor standing or desk lamps etc. and what space will be required to comfortably accommodate them. Avoid over cluttering your space.
Maintaining Your Workflow
Placement of your other office equipment and office supplies should take into account where your desk is situated. To maintain your workflow you’ll want your equipment and supplies to be easily accessible without having to move around too much.
Some movement is good as we know that sitting for longer than 4 hours a day can lead to: reduced metabolism, disrupted sugar levels and increased insulin and blood pressure levels which in turn leads to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression as well as back pain and muscular problems, irrespective of your level of physical activity!
However you shouldn’t have to get out of your chair every time you need to use office supplies or equipment as this is likely to reduce your office productivity. Keep often used office supplies or equipment near at hand and move other items that are less used further away.
Accommodating Your Storage Needs
Storage is one of the things that many home offices forget to factor in. It’s often overlooked when home offices are designed and can lead to problems when there’s not enough shelving, cupboards, filing cabinets or storage solutions to hold everything you’ll need access to throughout your workday. Workflow also comes into this. Having the right storage solutions can provide you with easy access to your required office supplies while keeping your workspace free of clutter.
If you’re short on space smart storage solutions like desktop caddies or folders on your desktop or under desk drawers and cabinets can help utilise space. Built in storage walls, floor to ceiling shelving, wall shelving, free standing shelving and areas where furniture can’t be placed can act as “cubby holes” to allow you to take advantage of space that would otherwise go to waste, while providing efficient storage ideas.
Keep It Professional But Comfortable
An interesting, recent office design trend has been to try to make the workplace office feel more like home. This move towards a workspace that is warm, uses bright colours and natural light to provide a more comfortable working environment aimed at engaging the whole person and not just the employee is known as resimerical design.
We know that when an office space is a more inviting, warm and welcoming environment that it can help to improve productivity. Even something as simple as having artwork within the workspace can impact on health and well-being. So when it comes to your home office you should aim for an office space that looks professional, clean and clear of clutter but it should also be comfortable and inviting. Don’t lose the “homely” feel when you are planning or designing your office at home.
When choosing a colour scheme for your home office avoid dark and dull colours. Instead consider what colours are right for you in terms of how they affect your mood.
Red is an energetic colour which has been shown to help when working on detail-oriented assignments; blue is a calming colour, commonly used to promote communication, trust, and efficiency. Strong blues help stimulate thought and softer blues help calm the mind and aid concentration. Yellow is bright and can lift your spirits and confidence and is often linked to positive emotions like happiness, optimism and excitement. It’s commonly used in the creative industry. However too much yellow can give rise to anxiety.
Balancing your colour palette is important. Too much colour can be overkill; just the right amount can make a space bright, cosy and inviting. Using colours only on highlight walls can provide a focal point while maintaining the overall feeling you want to achieve.
Introducing greenery into your home office not only adds another dash of welcoming colour but can also provide a much needed balm to our need for nature.
As humans we are hard-wired to perform better in natural settings. Since we spend so much of our time indoors, on average 80 – 90%, it’s important that we mitigate this where we can by introducing plants and other natural materials into our working environment. We know from research that incorporating elements of nature into the built environment reduces stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity and creativity. The presence of natural elements can also have a significant impact on the creativity and productivity. In fact, according to one study even a few plants can increase productivity by as much as 15%.
Don’t forget to choose plants that are easy to maintain. The last thing you need is to have to spend a great deal of your time nurturing plants especially if you don’t have a green finger. Ficus, Cacti, Devil’s Ivy, Dracaena, Ferns are easy to keep and don’t need a great deal of day to day maintenance.
Make Technology Work For You
To ensure your productivity you’ll need to have the right computer/laptop, keyboard and mouse and like your office chair they need to be setup correctly. The HSE supply a Display screen equipment (DSE) workstation checklist which is just as applicable to working from home as it is to working in the office. It will guide you to the best placement and setup of your computer equipment to avoid any health issues.
Don’t forget to keep your computer wires tidy to avoid clutter and trip hazards. Use cable management systems, cable boxes and ties to keep wires secure and out of your way.
Working from home can make you feel isolated and apart from your work colleagues. Having conferencing technology/software apps available can make connecting with your workplace simple and easy. There are many options available to home users including Microsoft Teams which allows you to meet, chat, call and collaborate; GoToMeeting which is the standalone web conferencing service that provides audio and video conferencing, as well as screen sharing; or Whereby which makes it easy to setup encrypted video meetings as and when required.
To take advantage of the apps above you’ll need a good Wi-Fi connection high speed broadband is a must if you want to avoid lagging and signal drop outs.
Many elements go into design and build of a home office space. Planning is essential if you want to ensure you make the most of the space available to you within your home and to bring the design of your home office to a successful completion.
How Can We Help?
JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years experience in office planning, design and build, office fit outs and refurbishments. No matter the size of the project we offer a professional fit out service. From your brief, to putting together a project plan, to developing a home office design and layout that meets or exceeds your needs to delivering your office fit out JBH Refurbishments will provide piece of mind.
To find out how we can help us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.