For those that work from home, finding a suitable space in which to work productively is essential. While designating a space for office work is a start, it sometimes isn’t enough. A home office needs to be a functional space that doesn’t hinder your ability to accomplish tasks. So what can make for home office that’s genuinely practical?
An optimized layout
An office with an optimized layout is one guided by the principle of accessibility. All of your most commonly sought office items, such as the documents in your file cabinet, your wireless printer, or your paper shredder, should be either within arm’s reach of your desk or accessible via a clear, short path. Though it may sound trivial, the more obstacles that stand in the way of completing simple, routine tasks, the weaker your efficiency and productivity.
Your desk’s position in your office is also important. Positioning your desk directly in the middle of your office is probably an inefficient use of space, while a desk that faces a wall or faces away from the door will probably make you feel boxed in. Though everyone will have their own preference, most people find work to be more conducive when their desk faces out towards a room. Also consider positioning your desk next to a window for access to natural lighting to improve concentration and alertness, as well as ward off lethargy and depression. If your home office isn’t exposed to natural lighting, ensure that your desk features a yellow-cast task light or is next to a tall yellow-cast lamp.
A messy office is a dysfunctional office. Sure, there are some that manage to navigate the organized chaos of papers and folders atop their desks, but the home office poses some particularly dangerous trappings of disorganization. Personal items can find their way to your office desk, while office materials have the potential for getting carried to the couch or the bedroom. To avoid misplacing these items, commit to separating personal and business materials, and facilitate this by keeping an organized office. Invest in file cabinets, wall shelving, storage units that line the walls, desk mail organizers, compartmental trays, charging stations, and simple cups for pens and pencils to keep your desk as free of clutter as possible.
Installing file organizers in your desk drawers can also facilitate organization and save time combing through haphazard piles of papers. The home office can also be a haven for tangled electronics wires, which is why a cable organizer can be of tremendous benefit. Even the little things, like the use of binder clips, labels, and color-coded folders on a daily basis can make your office experience a more organized one.
Working from home can be distracting in general, so reducing the frequency you have to get up and leave the office is important. A quick trip to the kitchen can snowball into time looking over that credit card bill on the counter, and before you know it, you’ve spent a half hour on the phone with your credit card company sorting out a discrepancy. To cut down on the need to go in and out of your home office, keep your office stocked with items you commonly seek throughout the day. If you’re a coffee drinker, consider purchasing a small coffee pot to store in the office for easy access, or if you find yourself reaching for snacks frequently, keep a stash of your favorites in a drawer. Items like waste baskets, Kleenex, and Band-Aids are all useful to have on hand.
Okay, so we admit that personalization may not be an essential tenant of a functional home office, but there is something to the idea that an office should be a space you enjoy spending time in. This is particularly important when working from home; rather than feeling as if you’re “trapped” in your home office and longing to migrate to your living room couch, an office that’s cozy and comfortable will motivate you to spend more time in it. Something like the addition of an ergonomic desk chair or a comfortable armchair and ottoman from a cheap furniture store can easily make your office feel more inviting. On the other hand, be careful of making your office too comfortable. A flat-screen TV may make your home office feel more laid-back, but if it becomes a distraction, it may be time to remove it.
How do you make your home office functional? Share with us in the comments section below!