Being able to work from home—whether full time, part-time or only a couple days a week—comes with a ton of upsides including better work-life balance and no commute. The ability to design a space that you can live and work in is also a huge advantage, but making the space conducive to productivity is key in creating a successful home office.
1. Think Practically
While Pinterest, magazines and design websites can be a great resource for gathering ideas and inspiration, be sure to stay realistic and practical in remembering that your home office is, afterall, a place of work. An upholstered chair may look great, but ultimately won’t support your back over time and, while they are charming and look great on Instagram, small antique desks won’t hold your files. Choose furniture that matches your style but also promotes a healthy work environment.
2. Avoid Distractions
In the same vein of practical furniture, keep the nature of the space simple by sticking with neutral colors, a few big pieces of furniture and save interesting color combinations for smaller accessories like art, the rug or throw pillows. Environmental stimulation can work both ways in that in can both help and hinder productivity depending on how it’s done, so sticking with simplicity and adding elements over time is the best way to go.
3. Embrace Natural Light
Many people reflexively place their desk up against the wall in the corner of their home office, effectively recreating the corporate cubicle. One of the greatest advantages of a home office is that you aren’t in a corporate space, so avoid that dark, constrained feeling by moving the desk close to the window, parallel to the panes. This setup gives you exposure to mood-boosting natural light, which in turn promotes productivity (and should help make you happier overall).
4. But Don’t Forget Accent Lighting
Even if your space has abundant natural light, you’ll still need additional light for early and late hours of the day. Overhead lighting commonly found in homes offer very little warmth, so try to incorporate a few table or standing lamps, which offer a warm glow to help you stay productive for the whole work day, not just in midday sun.
5. Simulate Green Space
According to a number of studies, plants are proven to improve concentration and boost productivity by up to 15 percent, so why wouldn’t you want them in your home office? In particular, plants with broad leaves help regulate humidity and boost mood by promoting relaxation and feelings of calm. More than that, plants also serve an aesthetic purpose, adding color, depth and natural beauty to your space.
6. Hide Unsightly Items
With modern technology and smaller-scale office equipment come a lot of cords. Clutter often translates to a messy mind, so run a power strip behind the desk to streamline those wires and hide larger items like printers, copiers, scanners or shredders in a closet or under a desk to keep them accessible but out of your line of sight.
7. Surround with Success
Personalizing you space is another nice perk of having a home office, because you can truly make it yours. While family photos and cutesy décor are great, surrounding yourself with reminders of professional success help keep you mindful of the purpose of the space, rather than it simply being another living space with a desk. Framing a diploma or hanging a large white board can help define the space as a productive, working environment.
8. Take Meaningful Breaks
When working from home, stepping away from your desk throughout the day can be difficult. Be sure to make time to not only take a break but take a meaningful break by reading articles for inspiration, walking around the block, organizing your desk or snacking on something healthy and protein-packed. Skip scrolling through Facebook and choose a mindful break while working at home.