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September 08, 2021
Here we are again. With variants swirling around the way they are, it’s feeling a lot like the start of the pandemic again. There’s no end in sight for working at home - but is that a bad thing? Being able to work from home is a huge boon for many people. No commuting, comfortable clothes, fridge right where you want it. Who needs a cubicle, anyway?
But if we’re going to keep on this way, we need to make sure that our WFH set-up is optimized so that we can stay productive and keep business booming. You can do better than a kitchen table or your bed (though that will always be the best option for the days where we just don’t wanna, but we gotta.)
Let’s take a trip through a work-space revamp - how to find your perfect spot, what you should consider when you’re setting it up, and what you can do to make it perfect for you, whether that looks super stylish, super comfy, or somewhere in between. We all have different working styles, so there’s no right answer here - so we’ve got lots of options and ideas to help you find what’s just right!
Finding the perfect spot for your working set-up is integral. There are a few things you want to keep in mind when figuring out where your office should be:
If you’ve got a spare room, of course, it’s a no-brainer. Even if you’re looking to have a guest bedroom, you can easily make it a dual-purpose space of which you can make good use when you don’t have visitors.
With all these factors in mind, let’s go through some standard options in your home.
We’ve already made it clear that we are fans of working from bed, but it’s definitely not the most productive or even the most comfortable option. However, if you’ve got a sizable space or, conversely, if you’re sharing a house and your bedroom is your only private space, there are lots of ways to make a bedroom office work.
If at all possible, situate your desk so that it isn’t directly next to your bed. You want to create boundaries between these two spaces because the way you use them and your headspace within them are so completely different. Ideally, place your desk so that you can’t stare longingly at your bed while you work.
Try to zone your space. What does that mean? Create some kind of visual difference between the two spaces. You can add a rug that creates an outline of your office space, choose a different (but coordinating) color scheme for that portion of the room or create an accent wall with paint, peel and stick wallpaper or even a tapestry. (If you’re looking to repurpose your closet, think about creating a pocket office in that space!)
If possible, choose a desk or a unit that will allow you to put a lot of your work materials away. Avoid a bulletin board that has too many work-related elements on it and make sure you have a system for concealing papers and post-its and what have you - being able to clear your work surface will allow your bedroom to stay relaxing in your off-hours.
Utilising your living room or your kitchen as an office space comes with the same caveats as a converting part of your bedroom - you have to consider that these are multi-use spaces and that you’ll want to be able to put your work away. An armoire desk is a perfect solution here, since you can just close the doors and walk away - you don’t even have to clear off your work surface!
You’ll also want to be aware that these are spaces to which you can’t close the door for privacy, and, if you’re needed in video calls, you’ll have to make sure that the view behind you isn’t airing your dirty laundry - or dishes!
If you’ve got a finished basement, it could be a great idea to convert a portion of it into an office. You can close the door for privacy, there’s less noise bleedover from other rooms, and it’s often the coolest space in the home. However, it does come with a trade-off - in many cases there’s scarcity of natural light. This isn’t a dealbreaker for a lot of people, but if you find you need natural light to thrive, the basement option might not be for you.
Different jobs will require different set-ups, but there are a few things that anyone planning a home office will have to consider:
Photo from Pinterest.
Let’s start on the surface - or, rather, with the surface. When you’re choosing your desk or work surface, don’t lowball yourself on the size. You might think that all you need is enough space to perch your laptop, but what about your notebook, your post-its, your agenda. You’ll need somewhere to put a glass or water bottle and maybe you’ll want to invest in another monitor, or at least need space for your tablet. Basically, chances are, you’ll end up wanting a bit more space than you think you need.
Don’t be tempted by desks without drawers - unless you’re planning to augment the storage options yourselves, desks like those might look nice, but they just aren’t functional.
Photo from Pinterest.
In you’re picking out a chair, your best bet will be to go into an office supply store and take a few for a spin. Find out what kind of height you like, if you want a stationary chair or something that rolls, if you want arms or not. This should also help you figure out if you want a chair that looks like a standard office chair, or if you want something in a different aesthetic. This is especially relevant if your office space is in a multi-purpose space.
Photo from Pinterest.
When it comes to lighting, you’ve got three kinds to consider: natural, direct and indirect. For detail work like writing by hand or other delicate activities (for the creators out there that need an office space that can handle both laptop work AND craftswork) you’ll need a light that can provide a direct beam. Then you’ll also need indirect light that illuminates your space but isn’t quite so harsh, and, as we mentioned before, can’t forget about the natural light. Consider your needs and preferences before you make any commitments!
Remember to consider the color and brightness of your lightbulbs - an austere, cool light can make a space feel really clinical and uncomfortable, while a warmer light will keep a space pleasant and productive. Let yourself get creative: there are tons of tutorials for creating sconces that you wouldn’t need to wire, and christmas lights can be a really lovely way to create visual interest AND illuminate a space.
Photo from Pinterest.
We all have different needs. A jewellery creator will likely need a whole lot of space for materials, while someone who does data entry might literally only need a computer. At any rate, making sure you’ve got storage space for any materials or peripherals will make your office feel really functional, which helps you stay productive!
You might want to consider a desk that has a built-in shelf, as this adds storage right off the bat, or consider coordinating your desk with additional shelving you might want to build in around it. This is also when a unit such as an armoire desk can really come in handy, as there can be a significant amount of shelving and storage built in.
For some of us, a laptop is about as tech-y as we get. Other folks go with a desktop - and then there are those who are dual-monitor pros. Whatever your level is, consider what works best for you and also what kind of expansions might occur to your system when you’re planning out your office space. Make sure you’ve got enough space for a mouse and a mouse pad, even if you generally work on your laptop; adding a wireless mouse can be a huge upgrade in terms of comfort and functionality.
Need a sound system? Factor that in when you’re considering your shelving as well as your office location. Want to be able to wire directly into your modem? Make sure that modem is located in your office.
An office can also be a great place to double as your home’s security hub. With security systems getting more affordable and easy to install, you might want to keep the hub and any other elements in your office, where you can see everything at once.
Photo from Pinterest.
One of the main benefits to working from home - besides having unlimited snacks and also being able to stay in your sweats - is that you can personalize your workspace. You can really prioritize making the space work for you. What colors energize you? Do you like having art or photos around you? Music? You’ve got total artistic freedom.
We’ve already mentioned zoning, but it’s worth rehashing. If your office is to be located in a multipurpose space, delineating the office portion can help confine the work to those parameters while retaining the flow of the greater space. It can also provide contrast and interest. Introducing a new color or theme can be of great use here. Our favorite way to zone a space is with an accent wall - an arch or other geometric space is a perfect choice, but a patterned wallpaper is also a bold and effective way to go.
Speaking of accents - picking one bold, contrasting, element can instantly take your office to the next level. Go with a wild, dramatic velvet chair. Perhaps a chandelier or a standing lamp? An eye-catching rug! These elements add an infusion of personality to a space that can easily become austere.
Bring some more YOU into your office by moving some of your favorite decor into the space. The things that really inspire you and ground you. I’m a crystals person, myself, and there are several crystals that I love to have near me in my work spaces. Black opal looks like swirling iced coffee and has wonderful ground properties, so that’s a great choice. Pyrite is great for focusing and calling in abundance - meaning, money! Black stones like onyx and obsidian are also great for grounding, and clear quartz and sodalite are focus boosters. Not only will they help you get in the mood to work, but they’re beautiful to look at and fun to collect.
Plants are another very welcome infusion of life and vitality into a workspace. If you’ve got some bright sunny windows, there’s a whole wealth of plants you could incorporate, but never fear - there are tons of options out there for all different levels of light, temperature and humidity. We went through some of our favorite beginner options a while back, so be sure to check out that article here.
Don’t forget your ears! Whether you like music while you work or if podcasts or more your speed, you’ll want a way to get your tunes or talks. You can get a bluetooth speaker for next to nothing these days, or you can consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones, which might be helpful if you live in a noisy space.
Whether you’re inspired to do a complete overhaul of your WFH set-up or you’ve just got a couple tweaks in mind, we encourage you to really think about your working style, and to evaluate your set-up. What’s working for you? What isn’t? You deserve a space that serves you and lets you do your best - so that you can clock out, rest easy, and get to all the other things you need to do! People say that North Americans really live to work, but we think it’s time to WORK TO LIVE! Do your job to the best of your ability and then pick up that DIY, cook dinner with your family, go hiking, take a vacation. Having a great work set-up enables you to do all the other things that you’d rather be doing even sooner than you’d hoped!
What’s your WFH set-up like? Got dreams of making yourself an office that makes more sense? How do you decorate your workspace - or don’t you? We definitely want to know.
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