How To Perfect Your Home Office
Across the country, millions of people are now working from home – something that’s likely to become far more integrated into everyday culture in the future. This means lots of us are looking to perfect our home office set-up, whether that’s a spacious study or a small desk space. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some tips on creating a working environment that’s comfortable, stylish and inspiring, with help from both ergonomics experts and interior designers.
Not all of us are blessed with enough space for a separate office room, but even if you’re living in a small apartment, experts stress the importance of creating a dedicated working area. Juliette Thomas, founder of Juliettes Interiors, advises against working from bed or in front of the TV. ‘Even if it is a multi-functional space, make sure you have storage to put everything away that has nothing to do with work,’ she says. ‘Nobody works at their best when surrounded by laundry.’
It’s important to consider your health when creating a workspace – particularly as lockdown means many of us are spending more time sitting down and less time moving. Chiropractors at the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) have reported an increase in patients experiencing back and neck pain as a result of home working. ‘Whilst self-isolation and working from home doesn’t necessarily cause back and neck pain, the sedentary habits it can lead to, or the new way you’re working – potentially hunching over your desk or sitting on chairs or in positions that aren’t as supportive – can certainly exacerbate it,’ says chiropractor and BCA member Marc Sanders. His main tips are:
- ‘Check your workspace: If it’s your first time adjusting to working from home, make sure your workspace is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone, so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen so the latter is at eye level. Consider investing in a stand to help you achieve this. You may feel a bit silly, but your neck will thank you for it later! Do also remove any obstacles around you, so your body has room to stretch and move around, such as items by your feet.
- Sit right: Relax into your chair, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back and your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Your arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. If it helps, invest in a seat with arm rests. If you don’t have a designated workspace and are therefore getting the job done from your breakfast bar or sofa, try placing a small cushion between the small of your back and the back of the sofa to give you more support and avoid slumping for long periods.’
Lighting is another aspect to consider. Jamie Moxey, design consultant at Dusk Lighting, suggests: ‘Take some time to check where the sun will cover in the room you have chosen as an office to see where you can position your desk so that you do not get sunlight bouncing off of your screen while you are trying to work. If you are likely to be working into the evening when the natural light dims, ensure to have a lamp or ceiling light that you can use to boost the light in the room and avoid putting strain on your eyes.’
Michael Kieck, senior associate at workplace architecture firm MoreySmith, adds: ‘Often work positions at home are placed in front of a window. This may initially be the most aesthetically pleasing and allow you views outside, but strong direct light causes glare and increased eye strain. An indirect position that allows even light filtration without direct contact to your screen (reflectivity) is more suitable. Screens should ideally be positioned at arm-length away to help reduce strain on the eyes.’
Design & Atmosphere
Of course, aesthetics are important too. The best home offices not only look good, they inspire productivity – here are some areas to consider.
- Colour: ‘In terms of colour, red boosts brain activity and heart rate and can be inspiring,’ says Thomas. ‘Blue has the opposite effect, it’s calming and lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Green is the preferred choice for a home office space, it boosts creativity, inspires innovation, reduces eye strain and is good for spaces with computers.’
- Plants: Speaking of the colour green, a houseplant makes a great addition to your home office. According to Serenata Flowers, having plants in the office has been found to increase worker productivity by 15 per cent. ‘Not only are they found to reduce stress and fatigue whilst aiding memory retention, they also regulate humidity and reduce carbon dioxide, both of which help employees remain energised,’ they say. ‘Bamboo Palm is known for its ability to fight indoor air pollution, promoting clear-thinking and easy breathing. Another top home office plant is Golden Pothos which removes air toxins and absorbs unpleasant smells.’
- Scents: Studies have shown odours can affect our mood, creativity and problem-solving skills. ‘Olfactory stimulation is important to refresh and invigorate with the use of natural scents in your work space,’ says Keik. ‘Used sparingly, essential oils in a diffuser or soy or beeswax scented candle can help lift spirits through the work week.’ Go for natural scents: cinnamon is good for focus, lavender for relaxation, citrus for wakefulness, and peppermint for mood-boosting. Check out our pick of the best scented candles for ideas.
- View: Interior designer Katharine Pooley recommends: ‘Ensure the desk is positioned to give you a view that will inspire, either beside a window or with a beautiful artwork or family photograph that will inspire you in your eyeline.’
Need some interiors inspiration? Check out these Instagram accounts for some serious home office envy.
Workspace Home Office Decor, @chicoffice
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Home Office Inspiration, @home_office_
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Minimalist Setups, @iamsetup
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