How to transform your home office
A growing emphasis on work-life balance means many Australians are now working from home at least once a week. The burgeoning gig economy also means many of us are working for ourselves or freelancing for other businesses. According to the Getting Trendy 2017 report from freelance marketplace Expert360, almost half of large Australian companies are expected to have 20 per cent contingent staff by 2020.
Whichever way you look at it, more of us than ever before are working from home. For some, this means working from the kitchen table once the breakfast plates have been cleared; for others, it’s setting up a laptop on the couch and logging into emails between episodes of Silicon Valley.
For those without the luxury of a private study, working from home is a pretty basic affair; but there are easy and cost-effective ways to transform your home into a stimulating and inspiring office space.
Room with a view
Interior designer David Malek says it’s important to position your desk near a window so you can absorb as much natural light as possible. That way you can switch your eyes from your screen to the window throughout the day, and avoid eyestrain or headaches. “If you don’t have a view, have an artwork nearby to rest your eyes on,” he says, adding even a potted plant, orchid or vase of fresh flowers can enliven your office and offer a more aesthetically pleasing outlook than your computer screen. If you struggle to attain natural light, invest in a good quality task lamp, which is “much more pleasing than overhead light”.
Space and comfort
The key to feeling comfortable in your home office is a good, ergonomic chair and a desk that is large enough to accommodate your needs, says Malek. This means a desk that is at least 1.5 metres wide, to fit your files, papers, computer, “and a cup of tea,” he quips. The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below, and your feet should be able to rest firmly on the ground – or if you’re short, on a footrest. Overall, the space should be inviting and comfortable – after all, you’re going to be spending some serious time there.
“Along with comfort, you need to think about how you work,” stresses Malek. “This is different for everyone but if you do a lot of printing or scanning, make sure your printer is close by so you can reach it from your chair. If you need to access books and files, install a shelf above your desk so these things are at your fingertips.”
A pinboard or magnetic board is what designers use to pin their ideas on and keep them motivated. “Made from felt, cork or even upholstery, it can be used to stick postcards on, inspiring quotes or, god forbid, any unpaid bills,” Malek says. While this office addition won’t suit everyone, remember working from home means the absence of colleagues to chew the fat with, so adding a little bit of colour and creativity can break up the day and keep you motivated.
When it comes to stationery and office staples such as pens, scissors and staplers, you want to make sure they are pleasing to the eye, Malek says. “Having a nice hole punch or pen container makes you want to use them, and they’ll last longer than your generic, $2 black stapler from Officeworks. A scented candle is also a great accessory to brighten your work day and aromatherapy can work wonders on your mood,” he says. The end goal, after all, is work, so do whatever you can to make your space conducive to getting things done.