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Top Ten Tips for Planning a Home Office

With more and more of the world's office workforce now working from home at least part of the time, don't you owe it to yourself, your comfort and your wellbeing to have a really good space to achieve your full potential?

We thought it would be a good idea to share some tips with you so that you can perhaps update your home office space or even consider starting one from scratch.

Wondering how to design a home office?

It can be helpful if you ask yourself these questions to provide a starting point. 

1. Where shall I put my office?

If you have plenty of space and different areas to choose from then you are very fortunate and it would make sense to choose the one that is the most comfortable and comes with plenty of natural light.

Of course, it depends on your circumstances.  You might have young children to keep an eye on while you are working or if space is limited, there are often different spaces that can be utilized: on a landing; under a staircase; or changing a closet into a workstation.

An office right next to the kitchen or the front door for example, isn't the best location if you need silence, and do not wish to be disturbed! 

2. Is there a multi-electrical socket in a convenient position?

Before deciding on your space, make sure you have easy access to a power supply - with enough sockets to cater for all your equipment, including computer, chargers, desk light and printer.

You want to avoid an extension if at all possible, so you don't end up with unnecessary wiring.  And do consider how you can make any leads tidy, efficient and safe. 

3. Do I have enough storage?

Yes, we know that we are supposed to be as paper-free as possible in our office spaces but with the best will in the world, there are always going to be some papers and files to go with them.  Make sure you have sufficient storage - and more to space - and that it is simple to access. 

Everyone has their own idea of what works for them but a mix of shelves and cupboards could well suit you so that you can pull frequently used items off the shelves and put away those less used items out of sight in cupboards.  There are so many attractive storage ideas available that there is really no excuse for everything to look good and appealing.  If you already have a home office, you might want to take this opportunity to look into de-cluttering your office space?

In addition, shelves can also be used to display ornaments, plants and pictures – all of which are important for creating a space that feels attractive and inspiring, rather than just practical.  We have all seen those Zoom meetings and other occasions when a home office is on show to different size audiences.  

4. Is there space for a noticeboard?

This can be useful in a home office, allowing you to hang a calendar, to-do lists and other items of interest to you and you type of work.  They can be good for helping you to stay focused and organized.  

Two suggestions for such a noticeboard are (1) to paint a section of wall with magnetic paint (perfect for hanging things up) or (2) to make your own blackboard area using blackboard paint as a background for writing up notices that can be changed, as necessary.

5. Is the lighting right and can I control any natural light?

Good lighting is key in an office space, for practical reasons and for your own wellbeing. Along with natural daylight, you’ll need some overhead lighting to ensure the room feels bright enough to work in, and to boost your mood and productivity.

Task lighting is also crucial, so invest in a high-quality desk lamp that will help you see without straining your eyes.  If you are involved with lots of Zoom type meetings or an online presence (whether it's through social media or a website) then a ring light will assist in providing perfect lighting for a more professional-looking appearance. 

You can avoid a distracting glare on your computer screen by placing your desk away from direct sunlight and facing a window too if possible - you cannot beat natural light for productivity and motivation!   Another idea is to invest in a window treatment that will allow you to control light levels easily throughout the day - preferably with a control from your desk.

If you engage in many Zoom calls, be careful not to have your background as a window as you could appear on the other participants' screens as a silhouette.

6. How much surface space do I need?

Obviously, the type of work you do will influence the amount of space you need. For example, if you have a lot of drawings or paperwork to pore over then a large desktop with more space is needed. 

If space allows, one idea is to design two surfaces - one for the computer zone, and a second separate for your paper-based work area.

Of course, if your work is mainly screen-focused, a small surface could well be sufficient.  You might just need a shallow ledge the right size for your laptop.  But if you are spending many hours of the day in front of a screen, it would make good eye health sense to have a larger screen as well.

7. Should I incorporate living plants into my office space?

Adding plants to the space can be really important as they help with productivity while improving the air quality!

8. Is there space for a printer? 

You could well need to all those secondary gadgets you need for your work. In particular, think about providing space for a printer and scanner. 

If space is at a premium, it could be possible to locate a printer in another room. 

9. Is my chair comfortable and do I have enough leg space?

Arguably, having a comfortable chair should be one of the top priorities.  Choose a design that supports your back to avoid any long-term problems with your spine.  And your chair does not have to be the typical black classic office model. 

There are so many more attractive models now on the market. 

You can even go the extra mile and have one custom made for your own body with its unique measurements. 

Leg space can be crucial.  Make sure that the space for your chair and your desk allows for sufficient movement and you are not hemmed in.

And exercise is important too.  Are you sitting for too long at a time?

10. What about Feng Shui?
Some of you might be want to consider the simplest form and logic of feng shui principles where ideally you should not have your back to the door or window.  The wall should be behind you to offer support and protection while you are facing the door.   And thinking about ensuring your office is eco-friendly also has its benefits.