The last few years have really shown us the importance of having some permanent space in our homes for an office, learning center, or both.
Of course, we can always take a laptop to the couch or bed, but that’s not a long-term solution.
And we don’t want to take over a dining room table with work: The ability to separate the sides of the work/life balance is important.
A dedicated home office (or two) is now a necessity.
But how do you set it up for success?
Let’s first examine what’s makes a good home office, and then look at some tips on how to make yours work for you!
Home offices should be ergonomic
Ergonomics is a fancy word for the science of work. A lot of us equate the word with expensive chairs or funny-looking desk accessories, but it’s really a more important than that.
The International Ergonomics Association defines it as being the “understanding among humans and other elements of a system. . . in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” In other words, ergonomics is the study of people and their work stuff, and the attempt to make it all work better while reducing the risk of harm.
When you set up and use your home office, you need to keep ergonomics in mind. Not as a stuffy science or set of rules to follow, but just as a guiding principle. Your home workspace needs to have everything where you need it without causing strain or discomfort. If it doesn’t, it should be adjusted to you (and not you adjusting to it).
We must note, however, that personal preference is key, as we all work better in different ways. Use these ten tips to help build a space that makes the most of how you like to work.
10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Home Office
1. Balance your light
To reduce eye strain caused by computer screens, your home office needs light. Natural light is always best, just take care your computer isn’t positioned in such a way where that light causes glare. Also, consider bias lighting, which projects its light behind and around your monitor. Bias lighting helps reduce eye strain when looking at your computer for a long time by reducing the brightness contrast between your monitor and whatever is behind it.
2. Remove or limit distractions
Distractions from work are, really, anything that pull your focus from the job you’re doing. Removing as many as possible is key for a successful home office. This can include everything from shutting doors to keep other family members away from your workspace to organizing papers or cords so the jumble doesn’t monopolize your attention. One difficult distraction you might want to limit exposure to is your cell phone. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that having your phone near you (even if it is turned off) led to a decrease in one’s “cognitive capacity—on par with [the] effects of lacking sleep.”
3. Have things nearby that make you happy
BUT your workspace must make you feel happy and want to be there. So, if you need your cell phone near, if you need a few action figures on your desk, if you need a painting with a foot on the wall behind you, if plants bring a smile to your face, then that’s what you should have in your office. Just make sure the things that make you happy are not becoming big distractions.
4. Get a comfortable and supportive chair
This one might end up being an investment, but a comfortable and supportive chair is a home office necessity. Unless you work at a standing desk, you’re going to be in your chair a lot. It needs to be comfortable, but also be very supportive of your back. One of the best things you can do is to try out as many chairs as possible. It’s a very personal choice, one that’s hard to make without having a test sit first.
5. Have your monitor(s), keyboard, and mouse at the ideal height
Your chair isn’t the only thing that can affect your back health. The position of your monitor, keyboard, and mouse can also support spine alignment and prevent pain while you sit and work. Best of all, it’s really easy to figure out how high and far each item should be in your ideal workspace using this Workspace Planner Tool from the Comfortable Computing Initiative.
6. Have proper wrist support and padding
Not only do you want your keyboard and mouse in the proper position, but you also need some support for your wrists and (depending on personal preference) your forearms. Wrist rests will help align your arms for better typing position which will lessen the possibilities of repetitive strain injuries or conditions. Also, extra padding is just always more comfortable, which will make it more enjoyable to type for longer periods of time.
7. Consider sound
When you plan for sound in your office, don’t forget that there are two directions sound will be travelling: from outside your office in and from inside your office out. Make sure you have all the audio equipment you need to get your job done, be they speakers, headphones, microphones, and, possibly, noise-control equipment like acoustic panels. Basically, you want to contain the sound of your office inside your office, while keeping the sounds from the rest of your home outside your office.
8. Have a visible clock
We judge the passing of time based on many things: our body’s circadian rhythm, the change in outside light, and clocks. But it turns out, having a clock in your home office is very important. It will be an anchor in time to help you remain on track and plan out your day. It will also be a visible reminder of how long you’ve been in the office, so you can ensure a better work/life balance.
9. Don’t forget your feet
When planning a home office, we often forget to plan for one very important part of our body: our feet. Remember, ergonomics says that your workspace needs to be harmonious with your whole body. So, if you are using a standing desk, an anti-fatigue mat is essential. And if you are sitting at a desk, consider a nice footrest. Anything that makes you more comfortable at your desk will be invaluable to your at-home work experience.
10. Make time for rest and refocus
One of the best things you can do to make your work office a happy place is to get up and away from it multiple times during the day. Studies have shown that taking routine and frequent breaks from being at your desk actually improves your productivity, boosts cognitive functions, and reduces eye strain. And since you are in your home office, you have the benefit of going to anywhere in your own home! Pop to your kitchen for a nibble of leftovers, head up to your bedroom to change your shirt, or play a quick game of catch with your dog. Your body, mind, and work will thank you.
Atlantic Builders Homes Have Perfect Spaces for Home Offices
Our homes are designed to have all the spaces homeowners need and all the options they want to make those spaces fit their lives. And that includes home offices.
With available dens, studies, lofts, hobby rooms, and game rooms, there is always a spot available for your ideal home office. But not just one! Atlantic Builders homes are spacious enough to be personalized with more than one work/learn-from-home location, which is ideal for families with multiple members needing their own special spaces.
Take, for example, our Carson home style. When you buy The Carson—perhaps in Liberty Hall Estates in Stafford, VA—you have the option to turn the study on the main floor into a home office with closet space. In the basement, you also have the option for a den, game room, and hobby room, any or all which could be used for work-from-home spaces. And on the second floor, there’s a loft with an abundance of natural light that would be a very cheery place to work indeed.
And remember: We can build homes on land you already own. We can transform your homesite into not only a great place to live, but also a great place to work. Everything all under one roof, thanks to Atlantic Builders.