Being able to work from home, whether you telecommute or have your own business, can be wonderful—unless your workspace isn’t.
In a survey conducted by Herman Miller Inc., 500 office workers of all types ranked “having an office that is comfortable to work in” as the most highly valued workstation attribute.
How do you bring that comfort level to your home office space if you can’t tap the expertise and resources of a corporate office manager or ergonomics expert?
Well, here are a few places to start.
Design Your Home Office for Comfort
- Make a list. What will you do in your home office? What equipment will you need? What standard things, like a fax machine, could you do without? How’s the lighting? Will the room have any other uses? Will you need a video conferencing setup? Can you adequately keep noise —or small children and other distractions—at bay? All of these questions, and others unique to your situation, will help determine how you furnish your space for maximum comfort.
- Choose the right chair. Ergonomic experts know where you sit has a huge impact on your health, including your back and neck alignment as well as your arms and shoulders. A chair should be comfortable but also be positioned at the correct height for your feet to reach the floor—and the right angle for your arms when you work at a desk.
- Make your desk work, too. Your desk should fit all your needs for a working area and storage, as well as the home office space itself. You don’t want to skimp on a small desk that doesn’t support the large-screen monitor you need for graphic design work, or one that only fits in a hard-to-light corner that makes video conferencing a challenge.
- Save your eyes with the right lighting. Experts recommend having more than one light source—place one above and another beside a computer to even out the lighting and lessen eye strain. Windows are best—if you spend a lot of time inside, natural light improves your mood as well as your workplace view.
- Create lounge space. If you have the room, a place to sit that’s not at your computer desk can give your eyes a break. The slight shift in space could open your mind to looking at things in a new light, and your body might welcome the physical shift from on seat to the other. A comfortable chair, a sofa, a bean bag, a guest bed so the space has more than one use, if needed—there are a host of options to fit your budget, decor and size.
- Make use of color. Sanitarium white or industrial gray may not exactly inspire your process. A soothing green might offer the right touch of creative warmth. Or perhaps a bright accent wall could stimulate your senses. Since you’ve ditched the corporate world, why not trade that drab office carpeting for a punch of color on something your feet delight in touching? After all, you don’t need shoes in a home office.
- Add a few personal touches. One of the benefits of a home office is you can do whatever you want with the space. You don’t have to wait for the occasional late night alone in the office to surreptitiously blast a little Grateful Dead. Get your hippie on with a small stereo. You don’t have to fret over being “that mom” with too many family photos, or “that guy” with a penchant for plants. Embrace your space. What’s the fun of working from home if you can’t indulge your inner deity a little?