How to create a productive home office
3 April 2013
Creating a productive atmosphere is more than snazzy office furniture and plenty of space. Your home office should be a place where you are inspired to work, comfortable and free from distractions.
Separate your working space
An ideal working space starts with the set up, so it’s pivotal to create a space that has everything you need – so that you can do what you’re there for – work. Kate St James, interior designer and editor of Grand Designs Australia and Home Design recommends, “making your space as work-friendly as possible without allowing too many outside distractions or noise to intrude.”
Make sure you can close the door (a home office should never be a temporary pile-up of documents on the living room table) and have everything you need – working computer and mouse, paper, phone, pens – all easily accessible. If you’re getting up every few minutes to look for something you’re not being productive. “Everything you need should be at your finger tips,” explains Victoria Dennis, who works from a home office as the director of her own architecture firm, TDDP Architects.
Whether you’re working with a huge space or in a tiny basement, organising the area will do wonders for efficiency! Look at storage options, implement a good filing system, make sure there are enough power points, work out what will permanently sit on the desk, what will be displayed and what you need easy access to. St James recommends bookcases and filing cabinets for storing documents, samples and reference material.
Take the same approach to your computer, ensuring you implement an easy-to-use-and-maintain filing system in place. If you start off right it will be easier to get on with your work. “Having a good filing system on your computer is paramount for keeping records of transactions and orders,” St James stresses.
Let there be light
An office space need to be well lit, so if you can, set up your working space in an area that gets loads of light. “All of the home office spaces I’ve designed have incorporated light, outlook and natural ventilation, as well the use of natural materials,” says Dennis who is currently designing her new home office which will open out to a Japanese garden.
Remember to trial out the space you’ve created before setting everything else up. You may find certain spots in a room will be too glary, whereas others won’t offer enough light. If you’ve got the flexibility then make good use of what you have available through trial and error.
Many home offices are in basements or tucked away in corners so access to natural light may be limited. Try to maximise what you’ve got and “ensure the lighting is over your desk and not shining on your computer monitor,” St James suggests.
The truth is, if you’re working from a home office this is the room you will probably spend the most time in – so make your space as comfortable and as pleasant to be in as possible. Ensure you have a good desk and an ergonomically-designed chair,” St James says, “and provide ventilation with open windows, and when it’s warm, a ceiling fan is a good investment.”
If you like colour, add personality to your space by investing in cheerful, bright furnishings and artwork. Or if you prefer the minimalist look keep it simple with a natural, clean colour palette. The key is to create a space in which you’ll be comfortable and enjoy working.
If you find that you’re not comfortable in your chair, or hating the red feature wall you thought was the best decision ever, or squinting at your screen because you positioned your desk in the wrong spot – remember you can always change it. Productivity can be achieved when you’re organised and happy in your setting. But you won’t know how productive a space is until you actually sit down and work in it.