If you are a part of the 66% of Americans who were displaced from their office space in April of this year, then you’ve spent more time than you probably anticipated in your home. Though many companies have viewed this leap to remote working as a temporary solution, the past few months have revealed that providing off-site work benefits in the long-term can help them craft a happier, more productive team of workers.
For you, this means that a room or corner that may have been long neglected in your home is now the place where you spend your 40 hours of work every week. If you are considering working remotely in either a part- or full-time capacity, it’s important to create a space that is conducive to your work and presentable as a part of your larger living quarters.
Whether you are a freelancer that has been based in your home office for years or are working remotely for the first time, here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing the ideal workspace in your home.
Secure your resources and timeframe
Before you can embark on any renovations to your home office space, it’s important to make sure you have the time, energy, tools, and resources secured for the entire redesign. Little good will come from taking on a home renovation project that is too much for you to handle on top of your other day-to-day work.
That’s why having a strategy and plan in place prior to starting is so valuable. Although you may deviate from your original plans along the way, your project roadmap will help you set realistic expectations as to how long the project will take, and how many hours each day you should plan to commit to it to finish the revamp in a timely manner. Respecting the limits you set for yourself will also help deter burnout or abandoning the project halfway through it.
If you’re struggling to come up with the appropriate tools or materials to get the job done, arranging a home equity line of credit may be an avenue worth pursuing. In the short term, these loans can help you build the ideal office for the work you need to get accomplished today. When looking down the line, your renovations can also help you add value to your home, which is why many homeowners see these types of loans as an investment toward their future.
Simplify your work tools
Which home office is more difficult to work from—a space cluttered with old mail, post-its, and cabling; or a setup that prioritizes organization and simplicity? Odds are that you chose the latter. The modern office values and aims to streamline the tools, technology, and other equipment you need to keep you laser-focused on the task at hand.
For many remote workers, the simplification process requires some “wire-cutting,” or transitioning to technology that operates wirelessly. Not only does wireless equipment promote a de-cluttered look to your desk area, but it also makes your work station much more portable, should you ever need to switch between working at home, the office, or other locations (like a coffee shop).
As you revamp your home office, there are a number of ways to start unplugging your toolset. Simple changes could be wireless keyboards or a Bluetooth mouse. A more in-depth approach, however, requires you to find creative alternatives to the tools that have been staples in office environments for years.
For example, many professionals have managed to completely eliminate their landline phones by instead using software for video and audio conferencing, which provides even greater opportunities for communication without any extra hardware. Similarly, you might find it possible to finally toss your bulky fax machine by instead sending and storing documents electronically with a mobile document scanner.
Design with productivity in mind
After you’ve simplified your work-from-home toolbox, the next question to ask yourself is how do I want my workspace to be designed? Unlike other areas of your home, which are engineered to welcome a warm, welcoming, and relaxing atmosphere, your home office must also become a place that encourages productivity.
Fortunately, there are plenty of expert tips on designing rooms in your home where you can stay focused and engaged with the day’s tasks, regardless of your budget or the amount of space you have. One study, for example, discovered that adding plants to office environments measurably boosted employee productivity by 15%. The color you decide to paint your walls may have a bearing on your productivity levels as well. According to an article from Entrepreneur, you should choose paints in subdued, low-wavelength hues (such as blues or greens) to have the greatest positive impact on your efficiency and focus.
Separate work and living spaces
Professional remote workers, such as freelancers or solopreneurs, often actively seek a designated space for their work when they are on the market for a new house or apartment. But if you’ve experienced an abrupt shift to working remotely, you might not have the luxury of dedicating an entire room for your office.
In these circumstances, it is as difficult as it is important to delineate between working and living spaces. Remote employees are already known for their difficulties separating their work and personal lives, and relaxing in your office space (or visa versa) blurs the lines between work and not-work that much more.
To create an office in a room that serves other purposes as well, try to keep these design concepts in mind during your renovation efforts. Move your desk to an isolated corner to promote a physical separation between your work and living areas. Creating a wall with filing cabinets, bookshelves, or other fixed furniture will further separate these spaces while also deadening any sounds from other parts of your home. As tempting as it might be to swap your desk chair with a couch or beanbag, in most cases, it’s best to stick to traditional work appliances to keep you in the right frame of mind during the workday.
Read more about updating your home’s existing spaces here.
Written by Katie Perkins of 8x8