Take the quiz below to see what score your home office receives. When you have finished, read on to find out the experts' tips and advice on how to make the most of your workspace.
Over the past year many of us have been working remotely. As of September 2021, many companies are still wondering if it is time to go back to the office. According to a recent study, only 19% of companies are ready to bring workers back full-time.
As many of us continue to work remotely, it's worth asking whether or not your home working environment is practical, efficient, and comfortable? Earlier this year, Fixr.com surveyed over 70 top design and home office professionals from around the US to find out key insights and recommendations for how to create a perfect home office space. We've gathered their responses and now invite you to answer 5 questions to find out how your working area stacks up against their recommendations.
Expert Tips to Improve Your Home Office
Everyone's home working environment is different. Whether you are limited on space and have to share a multipurpose room, or have a dedicated office for yourself, top industry experts have shared the many different ways you can create a functioning workplace at home. Regardless if you scored high or low on the quiz, check out the following tips and advice to improve your home office to make it as comfortable and work-friendly as possible.
Place Your Workspace Next to a Window
There are pros and cons to the various different positions of your workspace when considering natural light. You may not even have the luxury of space to try a desk out in many different places. However, if it's possible to do so, you should have your workspace positioned adjacent to a window. Natural light is always beneficial to have while working and can result in avoiding eye strain and will result in less distractions than if a window is in front of you, but there is uneven light throughout the day, and the potential for glare. Having your workspace facing the window also allows for natural light, and can be relaxing. Yet, you can get distracted a lot, face the issue of uneven light and glare, and it can cause eye strain. Facing away from a window creates good light around you and won't result in any distractions. Be aware of glare though, and know that bright light behind you will make it difficult to be seen on video calls.
Whether you have natural light or not, you should also take into consideration what is in front of you. Open space will mean you're less likely to look away, and become distracted. Being in front of a piece of art may serve as inspiration, but it can lead to boredom and the urge to turn around and find distractions.
A Dedicated Space Is Preferable
Experts recommend having a dedicated space which isn't used for anything else in order to work. The comfort of the sofa, the television or even the need to take care of household chores can be tempting if moving around different areas of the home. With a dedicated space there is the potential to have office furniture and storage. Office furniture was recommended as a priority by 76% of experts when setting up a home office. To that end, 66% of experts agree that for those homeowners deciding which room to convert into a home office, most will opt for a guest bedroom. This option is most practical as it is usually a part of the home which is used the least, and has the space to add office features. Being closed off from the rest of the house means you can create a separation between your work and home life.
Keep Out Background Distractions When on Video
A part of remote working which has become more common is the need for video calls. This has made home workers consider what is seen by their coworkers, making sure to maintain a professional appearance from home.
Some people may be limited as to what can appear behind them from where they work. However, where possible, it's wise to consider what options you have and which to choose. Design experts shared their top preferences with 26% saying that bookshelves or a library is their number one choice. Books can help show off a little of your personality as well creating a formal, working atmosphere. 25% of experts agree that artwork for a background is a good idea. Something colorful and creative can slightly express personal likes without straying too far from remaining neutral and professional.
You should also consider the things to avoid while on a video call. As mentioned, if light is behind you, you will not be easily seen on screen. Also, any distractions should be moved away from view. This could include a door, so nobody is seen entering or leaving the room.
Separate Shared Spaces
It's possible that in one household there is more than just one person working or studying from home. If this applies to you, there are different options to consider for separating the same working area to avoid distracting each other.
41% of experts believe that the dining room is the place in which most people share a home working area, which makes sense if you consider the practicality of the table, and it being big enough for more than one person. Yet, only 6% of experts recommend spreading out on the same table. In order to better separate the space, 34% say a screen or a temporary wall is the best way to achieve this. Another 31% recommend flexible seating plans/tables, allowing people to move around to different areas of the home, and 26% believe separate desks within the same space is a good option.
Invest in Ergonomics as Much as Possible
Ergonomics refers to comfort and efficiency and reducing physical strain and injury in the workplace. Making sure your home office has ergonomic equipment is essential in achieving this. When asked which ergonomic features are the most essential, experts responded that a chair, keyboard and laptop stand were priorities.
A chair with good lumbar support can help prevent injuries. Jason Tjugito of OfficeSolutionPro.com states that, "Not only do they help improve posture, but they [also] prevent discomfort in the long run." Similarly, having a keyboard which supports your wrists can have the same advantages, as well as a laptop stand which encourages good posture. Many of these are used in traditional office environments, and with people working so many hours at home now, the same features are recommended.
Other Considerations When Creating a Home Office
There are other aspects that can go some way to creating a perfect home office. For example, one consideration is what to do if your space is limited but you wish to have a dedicated working space. Experts offer different solutions, such as a closet desk: a working area which is inside a closet. Another similar feature is a computer armoire. Home office workers may also want to consider the acoustics of their office space. To enhance audio on video calls, experts recommend adding textiles or acoustic panels. To shut out any unnecessary noise, an easy sound-proofing solution is to use noise-cancelling headphones. A more permanent option, which sound-proofs the office itself, can be achieved by installing solid core doors, sealing doors and windows, updating to insulated glass for windows, and even having blow-in insulation installed into the walls.
Your Perfect Home Office
What may be a perfect home office for some, may not work for you. Many of us have been experimenting with how best to work in our new home office environment, and we all have different options from where we can work. Whereas not all the insights may be applicable to you due to differing personal circumstances and job types, by taking on board the advice from interior design experts, you can create a home office that fits your needs. Hopefully the results of the quiz, coupled with the helpful guidance, will lead to you having a more comfortable, efficient, and productive home office.