Bobby Berk: Nowadays, more than ever before, people are working from home and/or bring their work home with them in some capacity. Creating a functional office or workspace in your home will allow you to increase your productivity, whether you are taking care of general home management tasks, such as bill paying, or working out of your home office on a full-time basis.
You might have a child or teenager who uses your workspace to finish homework, or you may just like the idea of having an office set up in case you ever get around to starting that novel you always said you’d write. In any case, there are a few factors you might consider when you start to put together your home office. Read Bobby Berk’s advice on how to create a functional home office.
First, consider the type of work you’ll be doing in the space. Do you work primarily from a laptop, or do you have a larger PC or iMac that takes up even more work surface real estate? You’ll want to think about how the space will need to function and what type of special equipment, such as a printer, that you’ll need to keep out. Next you’ll want to assess what your horizontal work surface needs are. Some people prefer additional space to get crafty with physical projects that require a bit more room to spread out. If you’re a designer or other professional working with visual media, you’ll need more space to work! This could also include wall space, such as idea boards or pin boards. If you have more than one child doing homework, maybe you’ll want to consider a longer countertop or trestle-propped work surface so they can work side-by-side. For more basic work needs, or for smaller footprints where floor space is valuable, you may consider a wall mounted desk to open things up visually below your work surface. Take an honest appraisal of what these requirements are, and pick an appropriate desk or shelf size that will meet your current and future needs.
You will want to have some tidy storage solutions. This could factor into your selection of a desk, which might include drawers for supplies and perhaps a file drawer. Open shelving above your desk is a great place for magazine files, boxes of paper and other supplies, and of course accessories. Make sure that your storage is ample and organized, and that similar boxes and files are used to create a cohesive, open storage look. Some people prefer to use a couple of matching open shelving units that flank their work chair to prop up a horizontal board or counter which becomes the work surface. Make sure the top of the work surface is the appropriate height at 29”-30” from the floor.
Make sure your work-space reflects your personality. Add decorative flare that speaks to you. You can layer materials that contrast with your wall surface. One fun idea, is to use cork sheets to cover the wall behind your desk. They’re pretty affordable and sold on numerous online retail stores. This allows for endless photo and memo pinning and a fun, customized textural element that is also great for absorbing sound. You can also put up a bulletin board or mood board that gives you inspiration. You can also use a dry erase board, a calendar or some other type of collage. A large or small piece of artwork can create a focal point to anchor your space, or you can pin magazine clippings or vintage post cards in an artistic arrangement. If you only use shelving and don’t have room for a board, a picture or two in a frame will personalize the look, or a shelf full of leaning frames. A couple of pops of color will enliven your office and give you a boost of energy in your space. Regardless of how you decorate, the happier you are to work there, the more productive you will be.
When you select an office chair, be sure to consider the amount of time you will be using your work-space. If you have to sit for long hours, something with better ergonomic design including proper back support and adjustable armrests and seat height will allow for longer sustained work periods, especially for someone working full time from home. Office chairs can be expensive, but work injuries resulting from bad posture are no joke! We think a good chair is definitely worth the investment. Consider whether you need to roll on a hard surface or carpeting, as some wheels work better on either of these surfaces, but not necessarily great on both. The chair you select can often be the most sculptural piece in the office set up, so pick something that you love, and that gives your space some added personality.
Lastly, consider using a good task light and make sure that general lighting is sufficient to reduce strain on your eyes and give you ample light to see what you’re working on. One of the things that makes even a well-organized and decorated work space look cluttered is a mess of cords. There are lots of cord management products that help hide cords, including wall strips and under-desk cord management solutions. Don’t skip this step, which can be a bit tricky to figure out how to deal with, but the initial investment in time and money will ultimately make all the difference!!