Whether you're working from home by choice or because of the COVID-19 pandemic, create a calm, motivating home office space with these easy tips.
It’s no secret that the popularity of remote work has soared in the last few years. Recent studies revealed 4.7 million people in the US work outside traditional offices. Now, with even more people home-bound by the coronavirus pandemic, offices are quickly becoming basically obsolete in many industries--especially tech and e-commerce.
The most widely praised benefits of working from home include a flexible schedule, increased happiness, and a rise in productivity. Whether you’re working from home by necessity or by design, creating a special workspace you enjoy going to every day can boost your productivity and satisfaction in work and life!
By dedicating an area of your home only to work activities, you’ll teach your brain that it’s time to work whenever you’re in that space--meaning you’re less likely to get distracted during your 9 - 5 (or noon - 7, or 6 - 2...). It’ll also help you mentally draw the line between “work time” and “personal time”, which is critical for a balanced lifestyle and good mental health.
Having an office that motivates you will make it a joy to “come to work” every day. Here are three simple tips to get you started.
You’ll be spending long hours in the same space, so pick color schemes that promote calm, creativity, focus, and productivity. If you’re allowed to paint your walls, a fresh coat can go a long way to setting the tone.
But how do you choose the right paint color for your walls? Here’s a cheat sheet of popular colors and their respective moods:
Green: A popular color choice for office spaces, green is a cool and balanced tone representing freshness, good health, harmony, nature, and prosperity.
Blue: The type of mood that blue inspires depends heavily on the shade. Darker, more serious tones are often perceived as more “intellectual” and represent communication, efficiency, logic, and trust. Lighter shades tend to be perceived as more soothing and would be a good option if your job results in mental strain.
Gray: Gray is neutral, modern, and sleek--but don’t go for too dark a shade, as it could make you feel depressed or low in confidence.
Orange: Orange is a casual, fun home office color that creates warmth and energy.
Purple: Often linked to luxury or spirituality, purple promotes deep contemplation or elegance. Use it sparingly and be highly selective about the shade.
Red: If your work is physically taxing, red is likely to energize you. It represents courage, excitement, and strength. However, use with caution (perhaps only as an accent color) as it can also inspire feelings of aggression and anxiety.
- Yellow: For an artistic spirit, yellow’s the perfect color choice, symbolizing confidence, friendliness, and optimism.
So you’ve established how you want to feel in your home office. Now it’s time to pile in all the goodies that’ll help you do your work well.
Electronics & Office Accessories
When you start working remotely, you quickly realize just how many meetings can be emails, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to take a conference call. Investing in a good pair of wireless headphones is a good idea--especially if you aren’t alone in the house during work hours. Just make sure they have a microphone built in!
Other important tools include a mouse, keyboard, and ergonomic office chair. (Don’t cheap out on the chair--you’ll be sitting in it for 8+ hours per day!) You might also consider a sit/stand desk--or an extendable desktop stand, if you’re using a laptop or tablet. It’s easy to get lost in your work and forget to stand up and stretch throughout the day, but that makes your body crabby and should be avoided.
In today’s digital landscape, a printer/scanner/copier might seem archaic, but when you need it, you really need it. Depending on your industry, it may be worth at least a small investment.
Last but not least: monitors. If your work requires you to stare into a computer screen for hours on end, you understand the value of visual space. A good-sized monitor (or even multiple monitors) can save you from infuriating window-switching and perpetual eye-squinting. Good quality monitors do not come cheap, but you’ll be grateful you made the jump.
Desk & Storage
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again--one of the quickest ways to create a bigger, brighter living space is to keep it clutter-free. Even in small spaces, there are oodles of ways to utilize smart storage to keep nonessential items out of sight, but easily accessible.
Your desk is the nucleus of your home office, so make sure it works for you and your space. Factors affecting your selection will include design preference, storage needs, and how much space you have available for a desk.
Before making a purchase, think about the supplies you’ll want to live on your desktop. Arrange them on the floor and create boxes of masking tape around them, then measure the boxes. This will help you decide just how big your desktop needs to be.
For maximum flexibility, consider a desk with lockable wheels so you can have a change of scenery any time. If you’ve elected for a sleek desk without a lot of built-in storage, you might use a small freestanding storage box or cabinet to hold all your necessary paperwork. Even in a digital world, there are going to be a few things you just can’t part with--and they’ll need a neat, organized place to live.
Yeah, most of your work is probably done on a computer, but sometimes you’ve just gotta put pen to paper. If you’re required to keep hard copies of your documents, you’ll need good printer paper. If you like making notes and to-do lists the good ol’ fashioned way (writer’s note: memememe meeeee), splurge on some notebooks and pens (or pencils, if you’re commitment-phobic).
Other essential flourishes to your home office space include highlighters, Post It notes, paperclips, a letter organizer (which you can use for so much more than letters--stray papers, be gone!), and maybe a stapler.
The Finishing Touches
Much like paint color sets the mood for your office, finishing touches make a space truly you. Since finishing touches are so personal, it will be up to you how you use them, but here are a few popular suggestions:
Bring the Outside, In
Whether you opt for big, leafy floor plants, tiny shrubs for your desk or shelves, or even a nice rotation of floral arrangements, the benefits of surrounding yourself with nature--even indoors--are numerous!
If you can’t commit to keeping another thing alive in addition to yourself (hard enough, honestly), fake it ‘til you make it with a modern artificial succulent or a few choice silk flowers.
Keeping trinkets, artwork, and other sentimental ornaments in your workspace will help to keep you grounded and inspired anytime--but especially on those inevitable long, hard days. Choose items that evoke happy memories for a quick midday pick-me-up.
Modernize Your Space
Keeping things fresh, bright, and new will wake up your brain on slower mornings. Sleek lighting, lots of white or other airy colors, and geometric accents will instantly update your space. Rose gold finishes give a feminine feel. Pops of bold hues set against black or charcoal furniture and design elements, plus a few brass finishes, add sleek masculinity.
An epic workday begins with an epic workspace. Make sure you’re ready to take on any challenge with a home office that wakes you up and keeps you calm and motivated throughout the day. Need some tools to get the job done? There’s an app for that.