Even when social distancing ends, remote work will likely remain intact for many people in the coming months, as we continue dealing with the unknowns of the coronavirus and its impact on our personal and professional lives. Some have even predicted that this is the end of the office as we know it, as many companies have realized employees can do their jobs just as well from home. A new study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that more than half of companies surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis. Additionally, The New York Times reported that the president of Global Workplace Analytics expects more than 25 percent of employees will continue working from home multiple days a week, which is up from fewer than four percent who did so before the pandemic.
As the workforce plans for this potential “new normal,” many will look to upgrade their work from home office setup, or build one if they haven’t already. In either case, we’ve pulled together some recommendations on creating a space that will make you feel focused, productive, and inspired.
Strategize the location and size of the space
If you don’t already have a dedicated space for an office, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers should help you determine the amount of space you’ll need and the ideal location:
- Is there an underutilized space in your home that you could transform into an office?
- Do you need complete quiet? Do you take phone or video calls often?
- If you’re a working parent who often needs to multi-task, would it be better to set up your office near particular rooms in the house? Or closer to a common area?
- Do you need a strong Internet connection?
- Will you ever host clients or colleagues in the long-term future?
- How much storage will you need?
- Which spaces in your home have natural lighting?
Ideally, you’ll want a more secluded space to optimize your focus, but we know that may not be realistic depending on the existing structure of your home as well as other day-to-day responsibilities you have.
Choose the right lighting
Natural light is ideal. Without it, you may experience eyestrain, decreased energy, and migraines, which will inhibit your productivity and overall health. If you already have a home office that lacks windows, check out these tips to “fake” natural light. Additionally, determine the right task lighting you’ll need, depending on the nature of your work (i.e. desk lamps, light fixtures, etc.)
Decorate and personalize your space
Choose home office color schemes that will make you more productive or feel inspired. If there are certain things you like to have surrounding you – whether its photos of family, artwork, or plants – be sure to include those. If you have the space, you might also consider creating a separate spot, like lounge seating, for brainstorming or completing other tasks.
Optimize with shelving and storage
Once you’ve identified your remote work necessities, you’ll be able to determine how much storage you’ll need, whether you need to file paperwork, organize office supplies, store books, create space for a printer, etc.
Optimize for both function & ergonomics
Do you like to stand while you work, or do you prefer to be seated? Do you do most of your work on the computer or do you need space for writing/reviewing paperwork? Which materials/supplies should be within easy reach? The answers to these questions will help you determine which kind of desk you should have (there are various kinds!) and how to organize your shelving/storage. Whatever your needs are, we recommend designing your space in a way that will enable efficiency. If you spend a lot of time on a computer, select a desk and chair that will minimize neck, back, and eye strain, and position the height of your monitor properly.
Prioritize according to your budget
You don’t have to perfectly outfit your office from the start; you can continue to add to the space based on your budget (and time!). Prioritize the must-haves or mission-critical elements first. For example, if you like the option to stand while working, perhaps you prioritize a standing desk over setting up a separate area for brainstorming.
If you’re looking for more home office inspiration or seeking a home office contractor, please contact us for a virtual consultation! We can help you create a space that makes you feel inspired and excited for work. We’re also available for any general inquiries about home remodeling. We’re open and have strict protocols in place in light of the coronavirus.