The pandemic has forced the majority of the workforce to remotely work from home. While this is an exciting moment for those who always have a hard time commuting to work, it is equally challenging for those who have little or no space available in their homes for a personal workspace. Since co-working spaces cost considerable bucks in membership and monthly fees, a lot of workers are left with no choice but to transform their nooks into a make-shift office. 

In this article, we hope to help you maximize your home office, especially if you or your company are planning to extend the work-from-home setup in the foreseeable future.

Here are 5 steps to help you set up or improve your home office for the long term:

Find a comfortable space to work

Situating your home office in your bedroom is not always the best idea. Your bedroom is typically a place for relaxation. This is also the reason why working in your room might cause productivity problems.

According to experts, your brain and body associate your room with rest. When you bring your work inside your bedroom, your body will most likely be tempted to doze off. Your mind may also start to slow down, thinking it’s time for you to rest or sleep.

On the flip side, when you get accustomed to working in your room, sleeping might be difficult as your mind associates your room with work.

If you’re living in a studio apartment (or there’s simply no more room available in your home), you may not have a choice but to utilize some space in your bedroom. To separate work from sleep and rest, you should set boundaries in your room. Create an “official” work zone inside your room that will tell your brain you’re in a work mode instead of a rest mode. As much as possible, stay away from your bed when working. You could add dividers, bookshelves, and office furniture in your room to replicate an actual office.

Having a dedicated room for your office at home is the best solution. If you don’t have enough space, there are other options, such as your guest room, basement, attic, living room, or even a portion in your dining room.

If your house has a very limited area, try to maximize underused spaces. It could be under your stairs, large landings, or hallways. You can use flooring, rugs, or paint to mark your work zone. This will signal your family members that you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed whenever you’re in your home office.

Invest in a comfortable chair

Whether you’re at home or in your workplace, sitting for long periods can cause strained back muscles. In setting up your home office, it is tempting to use make-shift or living room chairs to save on extra costs. However, this may pose serious health problems later on.

As such, buying an ergonomic and comfortable chair is a wise investment, especially if you’re planning to continue working from home for a long time. Ergonomic chairs are designed to support and help your body maintain proper posture while sitting for long hours.

Here are some features to consider before buying a chair for your home office:

  • Seat height. Your chair must be easily adjustable based on your height. A seat height of about 16 to 21 inches from the floor will usually allow your feet to lay flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Lumbar support. Your chair must be able to support your lumbar spine to prevent back muscle pains after sitting for 7 or 8 hours.  It must have a lumbar adjustment (both in height and depth) that can give you a proper fit to support the inward curve of your lower back.
  • Fabric. The material of your chair is also important. Choose a chair that has breathable fabric and enough padding. This will help you sit comfortably for extended periods.
  • Backrest. Having a chair with a comfortable backrest will enable you to rest your back properly when working. A good ergonomic chair should have a 12- to 19-inch wide backrest that can support the natural curve of your spine and neck.
  • Armrests. Your chair’s armrest should be adjustable. It should also allow your arms to rest comfortably and your shoulders to be relaxed.
  • Swivel. Being able to rotate your chair will allow you to easily reach different areas of your desk without straining your back.

Buy a sturdy desk 

Having a dedicated desk will give your home office a motivating ambiance for work. While using a kitchen or coffee table might save you some money, having a proper work desk will improve your productivity, keep you organized, and prevent possible injuries. It will also minimize inconveniences to your family members while you work. Thus, buying a sturdy and ergonomic desk will be another wise investment.

Here are some tips when buying a desk for your home office:

  • Determine how you will use your desk. If you need space for computer work, choose a desk that has enough compartments for your CPU and other computer components. If you will be using your desk mostly for paperwork, choose a desk with a wide surface that will accommodate your folders, spreadsheets, books, and piles of papers. Some desks allow both computer work and paperwork, such as L-shaped or U-shaped models.
  • Buy a desk that will perfectly fit in your home workspace. If you’re tight on space, you may want to consider an L-shaped desk to maximize the corners of the room. You may also consider buying a compact computer desk or a mobile computer cart.
  • Your work habits and tools may also affect the type of desk you need. If you’re the “creative genius” type who works best on a messy desk, you may need a wider workstation for your tools and materials. If you’re the minimalist and neat type, having a smaller desk will work just fine.
  • The quality of your desk is evident in its overall construction, especially the drawers. The drawers must be able to slide out to their full length to fully utilize drawer space. You should also examine the corners and edges of the desks to make sure the desk is durable. Checking the desk’s warranty can give you an idea of its durability and quality.
  • It is important to choose an ergonomic desk that will allow clearance for your legs and prevent you from slouching. A good desk height should be between 29 to 30 inches from the floor.

Maximize natural light

Studies have shown that natural light boosts productivity in the workplace. This is also true in home offices. There are many benefits to using natural light. Natural light motivates people to be more engaged with their work. It boosts vitamin D and reduces health risks from fluorescent lighting.

Natural light also makes the space look more open and inviting. More importantly, natural light minimizes the need for fluorescent lighting. This will help reduce energy costs, especially since working from home is expected to increase your monthly electric bills.

So how do you maximize natural light for your home office? Here are some tips:

  • Add mirrors near your windows. Mirrors help reflect sunlight, which casts more brightness in your room.
  • Minimize the use of drapes. While curtains improve the aesthetics of your dreary walls, allowing more natural light may add brightness and color to your room. If you can’t do away with curtains, you may choose light curtain fabrics to allow more sunlight into your room. Another option is to use blinds and keep them raised throughout the day.
  • Paint your room wisely. Using reflective colors for your walls is a great way to maximize natural light. While white is the most reflective color, light-colored pastels, earthly green, eggshell wash, and yellow are great options, too. They not only reflect sunlight in your room but also boost work ambiance and productivity.
  • Choose a space near large windows. This is probably the easiest way to maximize natural light. Your best option might be finding a space in your living room or bedroom.

Add indoor plants

The long COVID lockdowns have increased the popularity of houseplants. Adding an indoor plant to your home office is more than just enhancing its aesthetics. Studies have shown that indoor plants help increase employee satisfaction in the workplace, improve employee concentration levels, and provide better air quality.

If you’re unsure about which plant to decorate in your home office, here are some of our suggestions:

  • Snake plant. This is a low-maintenance plant that is known to survive droughts. Research has shown that snake plants can filter harmful chemicals in the air, such as formaldehyde and benzene.
  • Spider plant. While this plant instantly adds a jungle vibe to your home office, they are known to be strong air purifiers. If you plan on having such a plant, please note that they need bright light to thrive.
  • Aloe vera. Aside from its healing benefits, aloe vera is a low-maintenance plant that can add color to your room and purify the air from formaldehyde.
  • Cactus. Despite being known as a desert plant, cacti can thrive in a home environment.  They also have air-purification properties. Furthermore, they can help reduce background noise in your home due to their surface area that bounces noise off and away from you.

Design your home office your way

Creating your own home office stretches out your imagination and creativity that is otherwise impossible to showcase when you’re at work.  Whether you plan to continue working from home or return to the office once community restrictions are fully lifted, having a personal home office is a great investment.

Your home office need not be expensive or lavish. It could be anything and anywhere you want it to be. What’s important is for your home office to give you the privacy and comfort you need to be productive. Aside from it being efficient and cozy, it should also reflect your unique personality. So make sure to choose the right furniture and decors that best suit your taste.

If you haven’t set up your dedicated home office yet, here’s a recap of our five tips:

1.    Find a comfortable space to work.

2.    Invest in a comfortable chair.

3.    Buy a sturdy desk.

4.    Maximize natural light.

5.    Add plants.

Have you set up your home office already? Let us know in the comments section!

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