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Creating Your Best Home Office

Simple suggestions for designing a great at-home office or workspace.

October 16, 2020

Whether from staying with a sick child or letting in the cable guy, most people know what it is like to “make do” in a less than ideal work-from-home setup. But, with more of us than ever working remotely in a long-term or permanent capacity (thanks, COVID), optimizing a dedicated home office has become an important part of adapting to the world’s new normal.
For some, the task of designing a more permanent office might seem daunting. As part of the home, the space should still be comfortable and reflect your style, yet it of course needs to be primed for the focus and productivity your job requires. But, if you’re struggling with the process, we are here to help, with these home office setup ideas and tips.

1. START WITH POWER AND CONNECTION. No matter what type of job, remote working relies on connectivity. Ample access to power and a reliable Internet connection are foundational to ensuring you can log on, conference in, and meet deadlines from home. When designing or improving your office setup, evaluating your power outlets – their position and availability – is a crucial starting point. If you use a laptop, a smartphone, maybe also a tablet, do you have enough open plugs to keep up? Replacing older outlets with those that feature built-in USB ports can prevent a low battery from ever standing between you and success. A variety of USB outlets are available these days, including options for faster charging and models with up to four USB connections in one device. This makes it easy to upgrade to a USB outlet that will best serve your home office needs. Another clever way to guarantee ample power access exactly where you want it? Desktop power centers. Installing easily onto your work surface, they provide electrical and USB connections right where your computer, monitor, printer, etc. are located. Goodbye, ugly extension cords. And when it comes to the Internet connection, be sure to consider the state and age of your router. What was getting the job done when downloading a podcast, or watching a quick YouTube tutorial, might not be up to the task of simultaneously supporting a multi-hour video call while you download the latest sales report. Consider updating your router, and/or adding a repeater or access point, if you are at all worried about signal strength or Wi-Fi coverage.

2. LEAVE SPACE FOR FLEXIBILITY – BOTH PHYSICAL AND SITUATIONAL. In a shared work environment people move around occasionally – grabbing something off the printer, heading into a meeting, asking a quick question of the coworker down the hall. But, in a home office, a lot of the natural opportunities to get up and move are lost. So, include space and opportunity to make yourself shift, stretch and move throughout the day. Maybe opt for a convertible desk or computer mount so you can stand part of the afternoon, or leave room around your desk to walk around while on longer calls. Also, the rest of your home life might still sometimes make its way through your office door. One of the major benefits of working from home is this flexibility. So, use that flexibility to adapt your workspace for your unique situations or needs. Worried about the distractions of a partner also working from home? Maybe add a mini-fridge or coffee station inside your office to make it easier to stay in the zone. Or, if you need to accommodate a toddler with separation anxiety, maybe a nook for the child’s naps or independent play might be worth factoring into your layout.

​​​​​​​3. CONCEAL YOUR CORDS. Clutter and chaos can increase stress and decrease efficiency – the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve in your home workspace. And the multitude of wires, cords and cables that run your electronics can quickly create a dust-collecting visual mess, not to mention an occasional safety hazard, if left unmanaged. So, it is definitely worthwhile to neatly organize or cover cords to help keep your space clean and well-ordered. To start, consider a simple cable clip to collect the wires that run along or off your desktop, keeping things tidy and untangled. Next, consolidate the bulk of cords where you can. Unique two-in-one solutions are available that include a built-in power strip for connecting up to 8 devices, while keeping their cords and plugs neatly organized and contained. From there, take a look at your floors. Is there cabling running along the baseboard for your ethernet connection? Or one final power cord running to the wall outlet? Cleanly cover and contain it with a simple DIY peel-and-press kit. Have some cords crossing your pathway to a printer or cabinet? Eliminate the risk of tripping over them while also hiding them from view, with an over-floor cord protector.
4. USE LIGHTING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. As human beings, our circadian rhythms are no joke. And when working from home, some of the external cues that our minds and bodies use to fully transition between sleeping and wakefulness – like the bit of sunshine we might encounter on a morning commute – can be lost. Meaning it can be a lot harder to hit the ground running. One way to help this is to set up your office where there is a fair amount of natural light. Or, if your schedule allows, maybe factor in a morning walk before settling down at your desk each day. These adjustments can help you feel alert sooner and find focus for your day’s tasks. Additionally, you can upgrade the lighting in your workspace to replicate this benefit. Dimmer switches let you turn up the lights for a bright boost on early mornings and rainy days, and then lower the light levels as the day progresses to help your mind and body begin the transition toward evening.

​​​​​​​And smart dimmer options add another level of convenience to this, letting you control the lights, or even set an automatic schedule, through an app on your smartphone for incredible ease. Plus, with a smart option, as well as with a motion sensor or timer switch, you can ensure the office lights are turned off each evening, even if you find yourself ending the workday in a distracted rush to go start dinner. No worrying, no wasted electricity.

5. ADD YOUR PERSONAL TOUCH. One final tip – but perhaps the most important – is to remember to make the most of a home office being yours and yours alone. Unlike in a shared office environment, you have the opportunity in this workspace to find what works BEST for you – your needs, your life, your habits and quirks. Add plants, a pet, or as many pictures of your kids as you want. Have an area to pace while brainstorming. Feel free to talk to yourself, out loud and often, without fear of judgement. It’s time to discover the unique ways you can add efficiency and enjoyment while working from home.

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