Designing and Working in a Home Office
June 21, 2019
While we at Ryder & Dutton are all about making sure we have a personal and face-to-face presence with our important local branches and head office, other companies are starting to allow working from home. You could also be self-employed - maybe you’re a web developer, a jewellery maker or you bake cakes - you don’t necessarily need to have a high street store as we do and in these cases working from home is required.
The benefits are abundant; no commute, employees can be happier and are sometimes more productive as there are fewer distractions. The key to helping this along is to build the right environment, somewhere you can be creative, organised and happy. That’s why we’ve come up with a list to help you create that perfect, all-encompassing space.
Pick the right place for you.
Deciding where to build your workspace can be difficult if you don’t have the luxury of a spare room - you can create this into a fully functional office fairly easily. You need to find a space with minimal distractions, somewhere you can be left alone to work on those important daily tasks. One advantage of having a dedicated work space is you don’t have to lug your equipment around with you.
“We don’t recommend having your workspace in the bedroom, this will make it difficult for you to switch off in the evening, leading to you working far more hours than planned.”
Achieving a work-life balance can be hard - make it easier.
Once you’ve found the ideal space, you should try to combine home and work into something informal, but not too cosy. Remember: work is work and home is home, but you should try to design a space that will produce a place that can keep you focused enough for everyday work tasks and somewhere that will allow you to be comfortable and relaxed.
Only you know how to find the right balance but choose carefully, too much like home and you risk being unable to distinguish between the two and too much like work can lead to feeling uncomfortable in your own home.
“Try and pick furniture and decor that matches your overall home furniture but will make you think of work when you see it.”
Check the tech.
Depending on what you’re working on, a PC or laptop, printer/scanner and phone are essential. If you already own these, great - if you don’t, it’s time to go shopping! You don’t need to spend thousands on the latest equipment, especially if you’re just starting out. Second-hand equipment can be just as good but do some research first.
“Some workplaces will have a work from home policy which has a section that outlines what they’re willing to pay for and what they’ll provide.”
Picking the right decor can make a big difference.
You don’t need to stick to normal office colours if you don’t want to. You can pick any colour, whether it’s a pastel shade or a bright blue - it’s your own space; if you want to go all out then do so. Do make sure that it won’t interfere with your concentration and distract you, making your productivity dive. If you decide to put posters or pictures up, choose something that makes you happy but keeps you inspired and productive.
Light it right.
Working from home can mean spending hours inside and in winter this can be detrimental to our mental health. Create a space that has lighting which is practical enough for work but is also good at creating soft lighting and is comforting. Desk lamps are a good suggestion but make sure they’re bright enough to cover your whole working area. If you’re straining to see, you’ll suffer from headaches and vision problems.
Make it comfortable and relevant.
Picking the right chair is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gone are the days when you’d have to put up with the squeaky uncomfortable office chairs for hours on end. You’re in charge of your own comfort here and you should pick a comfortable and ergonomic chair, plus desk and keyboard. Investing in wrist supports for typing can help to reduce the strain and prevent repetitive strain injuries.
“Make sure you can access the kitchen area easily so you remember to eat and drink - you could invest in a mini fridge to keep bottles of water cool and a travel kettle with a mug, coffee/tea and milk pods.”
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
This is something a lot of work-from-home individuals should be doing but don’t. Failure to keep to a schedule means you could start working too late or too early, you won’t take adequate breaks and you’ll end up working for too long. Prioritise your work tasks into urgent and important, with smaller tasks at the bottom, then schedule these into a calendar app such as Google Calendar and plan out your day. Make sure breaks and taking at least 250 steps an hour are in your schedule and stick to it.
Forty-five minutes up to an hour is standard for lunch breaks so make sure you take that time to eat or get out of the house for a little bit, even if it’s just popping to the corner shop, or walking down the street and back. Keeping yourself and your mind healthy is important and breaking up your day will keep you motivated.
“It’s recommended you take 5 minutes out of every hour to have a break from a computer.”
A well thought out space for working is essential. It should be comfortable and have everything you need to work. It should have proper lighting, appropriate decor and be the right mix of work and home. Even getting dressed in the morning will help you get into work mode but there’s nothing wrong with working in your comfies either! Make sure you keep in regular contact with other people, maybe friends or family, or other work colleagues to minimise the feeling of isolation - working alone all day, whilst helping productivity, can also be a little lonely.