Working from home is the new normal for many people right now. Even if it’s temporary, having a space that’s set up properly for your body and the type of work you do is very important. Here are some ideas for how to create a home office that’s practical, calming, and attractive.
The Canadian federal government is allowing workers to claim home office expenses if they have worked from home for at least six months of the tax year. That includes part of your rent or mortgage, utilities, cleaning services, and office supplies (but not capital expenses like computers, printers, or furniture). Those deductions can add up, so hold onto your receipts for tax time.
There are several important factors to consider when choosing which room to use as your home office, whether it’s a bedroom, den, part of the living, dining, or family room, a kitchen nook, or a basement or attic.
Natural light is essential when you’re spending most daylight hours at your desk. Does the room have a window, and which direction does it face? Will you be blinded by the sun, or are you on the darkest side of the house next to a gigantic tree?
If you have a dedicated room, can you remove other furniture to make space for a desk, an office chair, and a place to relax for a few minutes? If you’re using part of another room, can your work area be curtained or screened off for privacy?
If other people will be home while you’re working, a door you can close helps to limit noise and interruptions during the day. If that’s not an option for you, consider room dividers and/or noise-cancelling headphones.
And when all else fails, embrace the distraction with the help of will power!
Technology, supplies, furniture, and storage are the major home office needs to consider. Your employer may provide some of it, including technology and office furniture, especially if your job is moving to remote status for the long haul. Make a list so you can pick up everything you need to work effectively.
You can work from home, but you don’t want to live at work. That’s why having a door you can close to your office at the end of the day is ideal. But even if your office is the living room, don’t sit at your work desk and watch Netflix all evening, or you’ll feel like you never stopped working.
Concentration and productivity are much easier in a clutter-free, well-organized space. Use filing cabinets to manage paper clutter; get a pen cup and a box for staplers, headphones, and office supplies; keep your wires tidy and untangled with clips, zip ties, or baskets.
Plants can help make your home office a pleasant and welcoming room. In fact, studies show that plants can actually improve your mood. But if you have pets, make sure the greenery you choose is non-toxic.
Most of us work better in an attractive space, so why not add some colour to your home office? Paint the whole room or just a feature wall. Choose a shade that gives you the energy you want, whether it’s calming (blues or neutrals), energizing (yellows or reds), or creative (green tones). Add a cozy blanket or shawl to keep folded nearby for chillier days.
Your chair is the most important piece of furniture in your home office. A proper task chair (not a spare one that you grabbed from the dining room or kitchen) is worth its weight in gold, and you get what you pay for, so buy the best you can afford.
Fast internet service is essential to productivity, so upgrade if you need to. Slow, unreliable internet will frustrate you and limit video functionality. Don’t forget, you may be able to claim part of this expense on your taxes.
If you have room, consider adding a hammock corner to your office. Hammocks are versatile, attractive, and could have a more positive effect on your workday than you imagine. Whatever space you have available, there’s a hammock that works.
The advantages of adding a hammock corner in your at-home office space include:
It’s important to take regular breaks, especially at home, where the line between working and not working can blur. A hammock is a dedicated space for comfortable rest that will entice you to make time for a break.
Stepping away from your computer to brainstorm or review information can do wonders for your productivity. A hammock chair allows you to sit comfortably while writing ideas down. Just don’t bring your phone in there with you.
Sometimes changing your point of view can help you work through a tough problem. Go hang out in your hammock for a while and see if any new ideas occur to you while you’re gently swaying.
Did you know that a hammock can actually improve your mental health? It’s true—the rocking motion works with your vestibular system (the mechanism inside your ear that controls balance) to slow down brain activity and calm a stressed mind.
Even the best office chair can take its toll on your back muscles, but some time in a perfect, stress-reducing hammock can reduce pain and stiffness because it puts no pressure on your back. You may be surprised at how much better you feel afterward.
Creating a functional, comfortable, and pleasant home office doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether it’s a dedicated room or a work nook, filling your office with light, colour, practical furniture, and a place to relax will make it a place you don’t mind spending time.