Maybe you started working from a home office this year. Maybe, you’re like me and made the permanent move to work-from-home ten years ago and never looked back to the days when push-pinned pictures on cubicle walls were about as customized as your workspace could get.
Regardless of why and when your commute became footsteps instead of tollway miles, you deserve to work in a space intentionally designed to showcase both your production and your personality.
It took me a little while, but I found my WFH style, both esthetically and organizationally. Please allow me to offer these tips for how to make your home office space work for you!
Show Some Style
- Take this opportunity to designate a space uniquely for your work. It’s easy to get sidetracked when your personal and business items comingle. For example, your work desk is the prominent fixture in the room and holds all of your business files, papers, calendars, and materials, while a separate smaller table is designated for your personal files, binders, and correspondence.
- Another way to set your home office apart from your living spaces is the wall color. My charcoal grey walls and white office furniture (pictured above) might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a coat of paint might be what your space needs. When I chose the modern grey walls, I wanted a distinct contrast for my office — a place I’m committed to calling my office that lives up to and even elevates the style of the rest of the house.
- Incorporate useful reference tools for your work into your design. Pick out that wall map that adds to your decor but it also useful as you plot out your regional planning. Get those awards framed so you can show them off as they deserve. Thoughtfully choose the right whiteboard and placement so those important tracking notes aren’t an afterthought.
- Give your workspace that comfortable vibe with lighting and textiles. Lighting can make or break your space, especially in the era of Zoom meetings and nighttime working hours. A combination of overhead, natural light, and accent lighting helps ensure you can see your work moring, noon, and night.
- This is your chance to accent your space and keep it as warm and inviting as the rest of your home. Don’t be shy to add window treatments, rugs, that fabulous upholstered chair you’ve had your eye on, and pillows to take it from cold and stiff to chic and comfortable.
Pro Tip: Reuse your favorite candle jars (for penholders), baskets (for business cards) and collectibles trinkets (for book ends on visible shelves) to bring the rest of your home into your office.
- Artwork inspires me. A bold floral in black and white, your own masterpiece, or a striking sculpture adds both beauty and gives you something to draw energy from.
- One of the easiest ways to feed your working mind with fuel to keep pushing ahead is with inspirational quotes. Here are a few you’ll find in my home office currently:
To know better is to do better. — Maya Angelou
The items on your to-do list that freak you out the most are probably the most important. The hard is where the magic happens. — Trevor Ragan / Train Ugly
It always seems impossible until it’s done. — Nelson Mandela
Pro Tip: Now with so many virtual meetings, pay attention to the items behind you so they represent your personality but are still professional and organized.
Keep Function Top of Mind
- Laptops seem to be the device of choice for many telecommuters. To avoid looking at 14-inch screen for an entire work day, a monitor is the way to go. In fact, there are monitors with eye-care technology built into them, like Ben Q’s home office monitors.
- An open L-shaped desk was a perfect option for our home office compared to a credenza or a simple desk. The extra storage space is critical to house legal pads, supplies, small notebooks, hanging files, business cards, research and reference binders, electronic accessories and boxes, and portfolios ALL stored hidden out of sight in the large, L shaped desk.
- Position your desk so that you aren’t directly facing the traffic within your home. It can be an unwelcome distraction seeing every family member walk past or peek in during work time. My personal preference is to face the front window of my house so I can see the nature, weather, light and life outside (and be able to see who’s walking up to my front door about to disrupt my conference call so I can quickly hit mute).
- Storage, storage, storage! Nothing says “I’m an unorganized mess” like files and papers and notepads and you-name-it thrown about. One of my favorite office pieces is the sturdy IKEA Kallax bookshelves. Positioned upright, and with some organization baskets, it’s a perfect place for necessary books, magazines, supplies, artwork, and more.
- Not all filing cabinets are created equal. Consider one that wouldn’t be found in a traditional office setting. Remember, this is your place, not a cubicle, so get creative and colorful if you want.
- You may need movement to function during your work day. A treadmill desk, convertible standing desk, or under desk bike might be the perfect addition to your space and help wake up your metabolism and your brain.
Pro Tip: Place a cool “IN” basket in your home office. You and your family members can put mail or paperwork for you in there instead of cluttering up your desk.
I leave you with the challenge to do a quick office organize every morning. Working in an organized, stylish, inspirational, and functional space makes for a more productive workday and a happy home.