Odds are you have been working from home a lot more this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While technology makes it easy to stay connected with your clients and colleagues, the solo work environment can have an impact on productivity and motivation.
Like your physical office, your home office needs a few special touches to inspire you and help you stay focused when working from home.
Here are some essentials to help you make your Mosman home office a functional and great-looking space.
Furniture and setup for a productive home office
Just like at work, you need to be comfortable and organised to be productive in your home office.
Choose a sturdy desk that you love the look of and you’ll appreciate pulling a chair up to it each day. Consider a custom desk which is purpose-built to suit your space. Have it made from sustainably sourced Australian wood and/or have it designed to have an ‘L’ or ‘U’ shape so you can take advantage of multiple screens or have easier access to your papers.
Position your desk or screen so you don’t spend an hour or so a day struggling with sun glare or have adjustable blinds installed to keep the sun off your screen.
And don’t skimp on your chair. Choose a sturdy design with a backrest and good mechanisms. Many swear by the breathable Aeron chair by Herman Miller. If you have carpet in your office, you can also invest in a floor covering for the area where you sit, which will make it easier to roll your chair back and forth.
Work from home ergonomics experts say you need to be sitting up straight with your arms and hands at comfortable angles. However, no matter what position you are in, if you stay there for too long you’ll start to notice you get uncomfortable. So have a fitness ball in your office and try it out for an hour or so during the day, or order your desk with mechanisms so you can switch to standing and take the pressure off your hips.
If you love your desk and don’t want a new one, you can order a flat-pack ‘Upstand’ to elevate your computer: https://www.upstand.com.au/.
Good lighting is important as well to avoid eye strain. If your office doesn’t have natural light, purchase a lamp to brighten your room. A 40 watt light bulb should be enough.
Then there are cupboards and cabinetry. While the world is going increasingly paperless, some documents still need to be printed and stored. If you have organised cabinets your office will be less cluttered and you’ll save time because you can find what you need more easily.
Air conditioning is also important. You can’t work efficiently if you’re too hot or cold, but the advantage of working solo at home is you can have the air temperature the exact way you want it. Invest in a wall-mounted unit with a remote control so you don’t have to get up to change the settings.
Finally, think about what’s behind you. These days, our home offices are not private spaces as we invite people from all over the world to see us via Skype and Zoom calls. So select the books and ornaments on your shelves carefully, hang some tasteful or inspiring images behind your screen and keep the clutter out of sight.
The computer you use will depend on the nature of your work. At the very least, go for a generously sized screen and a machine that doesn’t let you down by taking forever to load.
Apple’s iMac is highly rated, as is the Dell OptiPlex 3050 Micro. Do some research and be aware that you don’t actually need to overspend if you’re not doing a great deal of high-tech work. For example, some computers are made for high-end gaming. If the game Fortnite isn’t your thing, you don’t need to pay for a screen which is made to accommodate the technology (you also don’t want to compete with your kids because they want to play on your device).
In terms of connectivity, your internet service provider may be able to set you up with a modem with a backup SIM card to prevent dropouts. Your wireless router is likely to be working overtime right now, so it could be well-worth investing in an upgraded model that can handle video calls and being called on by multiple devices.
Here’s an article outlining the best wireless routers for 2020.
Bluetooth devices will reduce the need for wires and cables. Your mouse and keyboard can be bluetooth enabled and either rely on batteries or be plugged in to charge. Again, check the ergonomics and find models you’re comfortable working with. There are all sorts of designs.
A good set of noise cancelling headphones will come in handy if your office is close to other rooms that are in use during the day. Small earbuds that allow you to take calls and join Zoom meetings without being physically connected to your devices will come in handy too. Buy a few sets of earphones and keep them in your top drawer so you’re not always struggling to find yours.
If you’re spending a third or more of your day in your office, it may as well look great.
There are plenty of interiors consultants who can help you design a working area that suits your personality and your home.
Go minimalist with white and blonde timber, create a ‘Scandi’ look or set up a den with oxblood leather chairs and mahogany bookshelves. Have some items in the room that remind you of your best achievements, whether they are a huge business win, your family photos or pics from a mountain climb, cycling marathon or other personal goal you ticked off.
You may feel more productive if things are colour coordinated and look perfectly organised, so stack your desk with accessories which make it easy to find what you need when you need it.
No matter how you style your space, if you minimise clutter you’ll find it easier to focus and be productive. Another important tip is to bring some water to your office each morning or even install a bar fridge so you can have a cold drink when you need it. A kettle or compact coffee machine can also save you from having to leave the room when you’re flat out.
One final and very important accessory: the Do Not Disturb sign. While everyone is at home, everybody’s space must be respected. Encourage your family to hold off on interrupting you while you’re in important meetings with a sign on the door.