These days, the room that was a nice-to-have in most homes has suddenly become an essential space. We’re looking at you, home office.
As people across the country have transitioned to working from home, the importance of having a comfortable, organized, well-lit space that inspires productivity has taken center stage. If you’re still setting up shop at the kitchen table every day, we’ve got the ideas you need to help you create an effective WFH space.
Location, Location, Location
Just like in real estate, location is the most important consideration when setting up a hard-working home office. Many newer homes have a dedicated room just for an office, but smaller or older homes typically don’t—so it’s time to get creative with your use of space. Slide a desk into an empty closet or alcove, set up a table in the hallway, or claim an unused corner of the basement. Have a bedroom reserved for infrequent guests? Consider getting a Murphy bed that folds into the wall when not in use to transform your guest room into a space that does double duty.
Of course, the reality is that some homes simply have no separate space for a dedicated home office. If this is the case, experts recommend you try to carve out a spot that you use just for work so you can walk away from work stresses at the end of the day. This can be as easy as separating your desk from a living space with a tall bookshelf. And a word to the wise: When choosing where to work, take a careful look around, especially if your job requires a lot of video calls—you want a background that is professional and not potentially embarrassing (like in front of the liquor cabinet).
Internet access makes working from home possible, but chances are your home internet service is not as reliable as your company’s network—especially if multiple family members are online at the same time. A fast, dependable wireless router can help make home WiFi a little less spotty. If your workspace is far from the router or your home has deadspots, you may want to set up a range-extending Mesh WiFi system to distribute the signal more evenly.
Spending long days in an uncomfortable chair can quickly lead to neck and back strain. Investing in an ergonomic, height-adjustable chair with a padded seat, armrests, and built-in lumbar support is an investment in your health and comfort. If a new chair is simply not in the budget, add a seat cushion and a lumbar pillow to whatever chair you are using. Desk height matters too. Your work surface should allow you to position the monitor so it is at least 20 inches from your eyes and the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. You may want to consider a height adjustable desk so you can stand while you are working and sit whenever you feel like it. And don’t forget the importance of mental comfort, too: Adding a pretty vase or a plant to your desk can go a long way towards creating a more welcoming work area.
The ideal office is flooded with natural light – but the reality? Many home offices are tucked away wherever space permits. Poor lighting can lead to eye strain and overhead lights can cause glare on your screen. The solution? A task lamp that can reduce eye fatigue. Choose a task lamp with adjustable height, angle, and brightness settings so you can position the light where it’s needed. Task lamps are available in a variety of styles and price points — and many include convenient extras like a phone charging port or built-in storage cups for office supplies.
A cluttered desk can make it harder to work efficiently, so create a set up that makes it easy to store important papers, pens, and other office supplies. This doesn’t mean you have to invest in a fancy filing cabinet and credenza; it can be as simple as a dedicated shelf on a bookcase or a plastic tub that you put away at the end of every workday. Shelves can add precious storage space in small spaces without taking up extra desk or floor space and can make your office feel more organized. Corral cords with a twist or zip tie—it looks tidier and will help eliminate the chances of anyone tripping over errant cords.
Keep it Down!
Barking dogs, screaming kids, ringing doorbells, and other background noise may be an accepted part of doing business these days— but there are plenty of easy, do-it-yourself soundproofing tricks that can help to muffle loud noises. Cover hardwood or tile floors with carpeting to help absorb some of the racket. A solid core door will block sound most effectively, but replacing doors is a big (and expensive) project. Instead, you can get similar results at a fraction of the price by installing sound-deadening tape on the sides and top of interior doors, like Frost King’s high-compression rubber self-stick tape, which seals gaps between the door and door frame to block noises. The tape easily presses into place and springs back to shape, ensuring a tight, sound-proof seal. If there’s a gap between the door and floor, a self-stick door sweep can further block sound. Just peel off the protective paper and press it into place for an instantly quieter office.