As the coronavirus swept the planet, offices around the world closed their doors, forcing a large part of the workforce to work from home — many for the first time ever. What most people have quickly learned from the experience is this: Setting your home office up in an emergency situation can be as simple as grabbing a folding chair and sidling up to the kitchen table. But long-term telecommuting needs are very different.
Continuing to work from home successfully requires the right mix of elements. The ideal recipe includes ingredients like flexible furniture for comfort, dedicated space for privacy, and a dash of home office design psychology for productivity.
Prioritize Office Comfort
In a pinch, it’s easy to improvise a home office by grabbing whatever’s handy and fashioning a makeshift workspace out of anything from lawn chairs to bar stools and kitchen tables to lap desks. That same setup that you created for short-term or occasional use probably won’t work as you continue to work from home. Over time, comfort becomes increasingly important.
Comfort and Design Impact Productivity
The comfort and aesthetics of your home office matter more than you may think. These aren’t just fluff meant to enhance your enjoyment. Comfort and design actually are both huge factors in your productivity. Both impact your focus and concentration, which is why it’s important to prioritize these factors as you create a long-term workspace.
Simple things like adding plants to the home office can boost productivity by up to 15 percent. They also provide a subtle reminder that you can thrive in your new work-from-home environment while helping to minimize the feeling of being cooped up in the house while telecommuting.
Choosing the right colors can make a big difference too. Even if you don’t feel like repainting, you can reap the rewards of color psychology by adding accents and pops of the right hue while enhancing your space’s comfort level. For example, a plush green accent chair will complement any plants in the space, continuing an open, natural feel while giving you an easy spot to read reports or go over your to-do list for the day. A red accent chair can add a little passion to the space. Or, you could go with the colors of your company’s brand to create a workspace that feels familiar even while you’re working from home.
Importance of Ergonomics
Ergonomics is all about how your body interacts with your environment — both in the traditional office and at home. Not only will it enhance comfort and productivity, but this is also the key to minimizing stress and injuries. For productivity’s sake, it helps to have a desk and an ergonomically designed work chair. When you’re telecommuting, you spend hours in that chair, so it’s definitely worth investing in one that’s going to be comfortable. Look for something that gives you good back support, supportive armrests with an adjustable height so you can sit comfortably at your desk while keeping your feet touching the floor at a 90-degree angle.
Arrange Furniture to Create Openness
Open spaces lead to open-minded thinking. That’s a large part of why open, flex spaces have been such a trend in traditional office design. But for people who work from home, achieving an open feel to the space can be challenging. That’s particularly true if your home office is smack dab in the middle of space shared with the rest of your family or if you live somewhere that lacks tall ceilings and tons of square footage.
Luckily, creating the illusion of openness with clever furniture arrangement can provide a similar benefit. A few ideas to help create an open feeling in any space include the following:
- Place your desk near a window: Research shows that natural light boosts health and wellness in addition to supporting optimal productivity. It reduces headaches, eye strain and blurred vision as well.
- Arrange workstations away from walls: Even if you can’t be near a window, try arranging your furniture so you sit with your back to the wall. It provides the feeling of having more open space in your home office.
- Use mirrors strategically: Mirrors are your secret weapon, even if your office is in a small corner of a room. Not only does a mirror make your space appear larger, it can also amplify the natural light. Place mirrors next to a window or on the wall opposite one to bounce light around the room.
Create a Sense of Privacy
Although openness is great, privacy is valuable too. Having space reserved solely as your home office space is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the separation of work from home life. It’s much easier to slip into work mode when you’re sliding into your home office — even if that’s a little corner in another room. Plus, it’ll help keep other people in your household at arm’s length while you’re trying to concentrate and get things accomplished.
No dedicated space? No problem. Although it’s ideal to have a spare room or a dedicated home office to work from home, it’s not a deal-breaker. Even if you don’t have a separate room, you can define your workspace using flexible furniture options. For example:
- Room dividers and office panels create a more private feeling while helping you carve out a niche in your home just for your work use
- Drapery panels and curtains create drama, give you an opportunity to add color and texture, and offer much-needed privacy that you can pull back when it’s not needed
- Bookcases and shelving offer smart storage to help keep you organized while also defining your home office space.
If you’re just working from home one day here or there, setting your laptop up at the kitchen table is fine. For continued work from home, short-term solutions like that won’t work well. In fact, working from the sofa or the kitchen table could ruin your posture over time and even put you at risk of stress injuries. For a great workstation, you need three important elements: a work surface at the ideal height, a supportive chair, and good lighting.
Ideal Work Height
The ideal height for whatever surface you use as your workstation should be around 29 inches when measured from the floor to the top side of the work surface. If you’re on the taller or shorter side, that might be a little higher or lower. When you have something that’s the ideal height for you, you should be able to sit straight with your forearms and wrists parallel to the floor. Investing in a desk that lets you adjust the height gives you maximum versatility.
Consider renting a proper work desk. Companies like CORT offer high-quality furnishings, giving you access to ideal ergonomics and lots of options. You could even get a standard desk and a standing desk if you wanted to.
The Value of a Great Chair
Back pain can cost you big in lost wages and lost productivity. Having a comfortable, supportive chair can make a surprising difference. When you’re in a seated position, your knees and hips should be level with your back and hips at a 90-degree angle. Look for a chair with adjustable height so you get a custom fit.
The Importance of Lighting
Lighting is all too easy to overlook. It helps battle both glare and shadows while reducing eye strain and headaches, enhancing your comfort and productivity. Experts agree that it’s best to take a layered approach. Mix warm, adjustable overhead lighting for ambient light with task lighting for focused work.
Own Your Space
Ultimately, you’re going to be most comfortable in a space that feels like you. Your workspace should reflect your personal tastes, with a style that works well with your preferred aesthetic. You’re going to be working in this space for a while as you continue to work from home. Personalize it thoughtfully and outfit it with decor and extra touches that will make you feel comfortable as you work. Need a few ideas?
- A great piece of artwork can be an amazing focal point
- Framed photos add personal touches to your workstation while pretty mugs and fun notepads give the space a homey touch
- Add natural touches and bring the outdoors inside with plants
- Play background music or add a tabletop fountain to the space to help muffle ambient noise for improved focus
Telecommuting is a double-edged sword. Working from home is great in many ways, but it offers up a whole host of new challenges. That’s why setting up your home office for long-term success is so important. And that means choosing your furnishings and decor wisely. Are you looking for amazing options with the convenience of easy delivery and setup? Do you need low-commitment flexible furniture that you can use as long as you need and arrange to be picked up when you return to the company office? No matter what the case may be, CORT Furniture Rental has you covered with its large selection of on-trend, ergonomic furnishings perfect for outfitting your home office.