Keep Calm and Hire a Writer
If you’re like me, when you made the decision to start a business you dreamed of what your home office would look like. After working in cubelandia for years I just wanted a room to call my own. I didn’t even care if it had a view. I should backup for a minute and say that I have been fortunate to work for organizations that blessed me with a private office, so I thank them. Most of my career, however, was spent shuffling from one cube to another, usually at the whim of management. I can still hear the complaints over who did and did not get the cube facing the window. If you ever want to gauge your team’s response to change, just change their seats.
Now that I work remotely I’m faced with the challenge of setting up a work space. For me it really is a challenge because I’m working from a home under renovation. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve set up my work area in three different rooms. Once again, I’m shuffling. I feel like I’m back in grade school when my belongings were kept in a plastic tote. I’ve graduated to brightly colored fabric storage bins, but I still feel like a 1st grader. One day I’ll have my dream office and you will too. To prepare for that day, let’s look at the top 5 tips to help set-up an effective home office.
Office designs on Pinterest are inspiring but are they realistic? I’ve seen tidy little spaces with a minimalist feel – a desk, a chair, and a shelf. One solitary plant and maybe one piece of artwork. Where is the bulletin board, the white board, the stacks of books? I don’t know about you, but I need space to spread out. My current desk is a folding table. It’s long and wide. My files and laptop have a space with room for my coffee. It’s not worthy of a pin, but it works for me, for now.
When planning your home office, make sure to consider ergonomics. Most people have at least heard of ergonomics, but many don’t follow ergonomic principles when it comes to their own office. The dictionary defines it as relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment. I define it as buying the best chair you can afford and sitting in it before you bring it home. Of course, it’s more than the chair, it’s also the height of your computer screen, and placement of your keyboard. If you figure out how to incorporate ergonomics in your office, your body will thank you. Don’t be me. Right now, I’m sitting on a chair from my patio set. When I work from my kitchen counter, I sit on a piano stool. Not the best solution but until the renovation project is finished, my dream chair will have to wait.
Remember when you ran out of staples or pens and all you had to do was walk down the hall to the supply closet? If you appreciate nothing else about your old traditional job let it be easy access to paper clips, Post-It notes, and endless supplies of copy paper. I’ve discovered a whole new me now that I buy my own office supplies. Do I really need those cute colored binder clips with the happy face that cost $5.99 for a quantity of six? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being frugal when it comes to supplies, but there’s a fine line between being a good steward and just being cheap. Buy the best stapler, 3-hole punch, and white board you can afford. Don’t skimp on pens, highlighters, or Dry Erase markers. It just isn’t worth the frustration. Do I need cute little binder clips and file folders with paisley print designs? No, but they make me feel good, so I indulge.
I’m not a color therapist but I do know what colors make me feel more productive. I also know which ones make me feel more creative. Hint: They aren’t the same color. I’ve worked in offices with white walls, brown walls, and deep red walls. My favorite wall color was the one in my previous home office. It was a soft shade of lavender. Something happened when I sat down to write in that room. I felt more tapped in to my creative side. Color psychology is a real thing. Before choosing paint colors for your home office, it might be good to take a few minutes and do some research. I think it’s safe to say that bright magenta is probably not the color you want in your office – at least not on the walls.
If you’re lucky to have windows in your office that let in lots of natural light, enjoy it! But don’t forget to include artificial lighting as well. The key is illumination without glare. Avoid working under the direct glare of overhead lights. Try using lamps with shades to soften harsh light. A floor lamp that shines upward bounces light off walls and ceilings. Lighting is especially important when recording podcasts or participating in video calls. Lighting should always be in front of you, and never behind. It’s easy to test how your lighting makes you look before recording. There’s nothing worse than a video call where you are cast in the shadows. Well, maybe showing up for the video call with your hair in a mess might be worse. Lighting is important for you and for the people you meet with virtually. I say that but this morning my office was in the kitchen. Natural light and a full view of my cabinets, including an old bedroom door waiting to be moved to the garage.
These are a few ideas to get you started designing your home office. The most important thing is to create a space where you’re not only comfortable working 50 hours each week, but where you’re productive. I’d love to see photos of your office. Happy decorating!