Most people who have already left the corporate world to start a freelance career learn the importance of a functional home office, and how beneficial it is to their success. Even if they are still working for someone else and have transitioned into working more from home than the main office, they know that having a quality home office is vital.
Some people learned this after working from the living room couch for a while, and now appreciate what a dedicated room can do for their career, after taking their cue from others.
It really doesn’t matter if you are starting a new career, or have been working at it for a long time now. What I’m about to share holds true for anyone wanting to work from home and looking for ideas in designing a functional and productive home office.
1. Finding the Right Space
The first thing on your list should be finding the best space that the home can afford to dedicate. By ‘afford’, I mean giving up space that is not shared with everyone else in the household. It’s important that your office is not a community area where everyone gathers or uses, such as a family computer.
Ideally, it would be a separate room where you could shut it off with a closed door such as a guest room, part of the attic, room in the basement, or a petitioned off section of the garage. This will give you the privacy that most people typically need to focus on their work.
If you can’t dedicate an entire room, then find a low traffic area in the house and partition it off with a folding privacy screen. Or, perhaps it’s the guest room that remains a guest room on the weekends or for the occasional holiday traveler. You could still close the door for complete privacy most of the year, and simply plan your schedule according to upcoming guests who visit.
Once you find the right space, meet with the entire family to discuss boundaries and rules. It’s important that they know this is a work space, and that your work is not to be disturbed, not just you. It might be tempting for someone to quick jump on your computer for a game or looking up a movie time. Just set rules for when they are allowed to do that…if at all.
2. Picking out the Furniture and Equipment
Now that you know where your office is going to be, start measuring it out so you can design a functional layout and design. Make sure you can move around comfortably, rather than sitting in a cramped space. Not only is it not functional physically, but it can be stifling mentally as well.
When it comes to picking out the furniture and equipment, I learned early on about the importance of ergonomics from a friend of mine who has lingering effects from an old auto injury. He had talked with a Sacramento personal injury lawyer, as well as utilized a chiropractor after the accident. They both shared valuable information regarding ergonomics and how it has significantly helped many of their clients and patients.
Make sure the desk is a proper height for your body frame, so that your feet are resting on the floor when sitting and your elbows are resting comfortably at your side when working on the keyboard. Another factor in the size of the desk is that you are not constantly reaching for items throughout the day.
Just as with the desk, the chair needs to be at a good height for you, allowing the feet to rest on the floor when sitting. However…even more important…a good lumbar support is essential to help prevent aggravating previous injuries, or creating a new one in the back and hips. The lumbar ‘roll’ should fit nicely in the curve of your back when sitting down.
Other ergonomic items to consider are a monitor lift to make sure the monitor is at eye level, without bending the neck, a keyboard that has a curve to reduce strain on the wrists, and document holders to hold papers up to view. And, if you are on the phone quite a bit, find a headphone set to eliminate the ‘kink’ you could develop in the neck.
3. Choosing a Functional and Productive Color
It might sound trivial to you at first, but pay close attention to what color you paint the office. While designing a therapeutic massage business, I did some research on color therapy. I knew there were certain colors to enhance or aggravate certain moods, but was surprised at how popular it is becoming.
Here is a sample of some colors, and their positive influence:
- Red – overcoming negative thoughts, a sense of power, self-confidence
- Orange – optimism, antidepressant, inspiring, expanded interest
- Yellow – memory, concentration, stimulating curiosity and interest, energy, aids in decision making
- Green – stress reduction, calmness, sense of balance, relaxation
- Blue – mental relaxation, calmness, peace, confidence in speaking, clear communication
However, each color can also be associated with a negative:
- Red – impatience, increased aggressiveness, hostility, irritation, anger
- Orange – irritability, slight frustration, increased appetite
- Yellow – superficiality, hyperactivity
- Green – laziness
- Blue – insecurity, pessimism, feeling tired, depression
Of course, you know yourself better than anyone. So, choose a color that will compliment your personality. In other words, if you already have a lot of energy, then perhaps red would not be a good choice for you. Or, if you are naturally calm and relaxed, then perhaps red would be good for balance.
4. Decorating for Motivation
We all look for motivation at times, and find it through various manners. Some of you might find it in surfing the Internet, while others are more visual and will be stimulated with photos and posters designed to motivate.
You might find inspiration in photos of previous vacations, or a dream destination. Place a few of these within the office, either on the wall or on your desk. Just make sure they are not doing the opposite by distracting you instead.
As you can see, there are a few things to consider when designing an office for function and productivity. However, if you design it with comfort, stimulation, and eliminating distractions, you will have an office meant for production.
Benjamin Baker admits to being addicted to writing and research. As a freelance writer, he often finds inspiration in websites that he visits. For example, he got the idea of writing about auto accidents when visiting www.travisblacklaw.com. Another idea for a series on green living stemmed from coming across www.ecohomeinspired.com. Benjamin loves to write on various topics and finds that it keeps his ideas fresh. Benjamin also enjoys antiquing with his sons to find intriguing relics such as old tools and signs. He is married with 3 busy teens, and resides in Denver, Colorado.