As our modern workplace becomes more and more mobile, the “home office” has become a relative staple of the modern home. For everyone from creative freelancers to business consultants to remote employees, a built-in workspace isn’t simply a luxury: it’s a necessary part of daily productivity.
But, with a desk located so close to the kitchen, the bedroom, and the alluring TV room, just how do you create a space that motivates you to stay on task?
We’ve got the solution. Below are 15 tips, tricks, and hacks to help you climb the corporate ladder from home.
1. Keep it clean & cohesive.
We’re all about customizing your office with quirky, personal touches (see #10), but remember that “Fung Shui” is more than just a nice idea...especially when it comes to your workspace. Crisp lines, clean organization, and a focused, cohesive style can help put your mind at ease so you can channel all your focus into solving more important problems.
2. Create space for guests.
We know, we know: your workspace is for you. But when the occasional in-person client meeting or friendly visit comes along, you won’t want to keep your guest standing. We recommend setting up at least one clear “second seat” for those walk-ins...just for an extra-hospitable touch.
3. Don’t be afraid of an alternative workspace.
What if you work from home, but you’re not really a “traditional” kind of business? For those who thrive in a more alternative workspace, don’t be afraid to think outside the desk. Consider your own industry and workflow and customize appropriately. Set up an easel, a multi-chair workstation, an armchair and an over-the-arm surface, or whatever else your imagination can come up with. As long as it’s functional for you and your business, it’s your best bet.
4. Add a touch of green.
For some, an all-day indoor office setup seems a bit...sterile. We say bring the outside in! Even the smallest touch of greenery can add a wealth of life to even the blandest environment. A few popular potted plant choices include the Snake Plant and Aloe: these low-maintenance plants can help purify the air and keep you breathing deeply.
5. Don’t sacrifice comfort.
Let’s face it: if you don’t feel comfortable in your home office...chances are you’ll opt for the couch (or maybe even your cozy bed) instead. Customize your workspace to your preferred level of comfort, and you’ll be able to cruise through your day with ease.
6. Invest in a great chair.
Speaking of comfort, perhaps the most important piece of furniture in your office if the all-important desk chair. You won’t regret spending a little extra to invest in a high-quality seat with good back/lumbar support. (Check out this “Definitive Guide to Choosing an Office Chair” for reference.)
7. Prioritize privacy.
Besides your workstation (be it an easel or a desk-and-chair), perhaps the second most important component of your office is simply “the door”. Sealing yourself off from noise and potential distractions can help increase your productivity astronomically. (Plus, a closed door can signal “do not disturb” to other household members who might be prone to interrupt.) Carpeting can also be a helpful office element, as it can absorb ambient sounds and insulate you from the outside world.
8. Pick a room with a view.
Let’s be real: if you’re insulating yourself from the outside world, you might get more done...but it might leave you feeling a little claustrophobic. Choosing a room with a sizable window and an enjoyable view can help you feel like a real human (without having to interact with other ones).
9. Make it work.
As much as we recommend a dedicated home office with four walls and a door...an open floor plan home office is still better than none. If you don’t have the luxury of a separate room, get creative with other spaces in your home. After all, “making it work” is one of the first rules of good business.
10. Make it personal.
“Office” doesn’t have to mean “cubicle”, and “professional” doesn’t always translate to “boring”. Customize your workspace to your personal style, and don’t be afraid to think outside-the-box when it comes to decor. Choose elements that inspire you. (For a great example, see the musically-influenced office choices below!)
11. Embrace natural light...
Lighting makes all the difference. From reducing eyestrain to amping up productivity, the type and amount of light in your workspace greatly affects your work. According to a new study: “Workers in daylit office environments reported an 84 percent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms, which can detract from productivity.”
12...but don’t forget lamps.
However, when the sun goes down, and the work still continues to burn strong, good office lighting will be key in your work-late motivation. Overhead lights do the trick, but if you can create a more ambient environment (with devoted task lighting), it might help create a more pleasant atmosphere.
13. Don’t keep your back to the door.
It might seem like a detail, but research has shown that sitting with your back to a door might impair your focus. According to one research, this off-guard position causes your brain to release stress hormones...whereas sitting within view of a door triggers a more positive hormone release (the feel-good hormone oxytocin).
14. Remember video conferences.
For those who work remote, video conferencing is an everyday part of the job. If “looking good on camera” is a daily part of your job, take this into account when designing your home office layout. Don’t sit with your back to a window or directly underneath a glaring light (and try to keep the wall behind your desk free of distracting decor).
15. Find a way to mix decor with supplies.
Some may tout that “function trumps form,” but we say, “Find yourself a home office that can do both.” The most creative setups we’ve seen prioritize productivity in beautiful, innovative ways. Below, a whiteboard blends in with crisp walls, and wall storage manages to blend in with the overall style choices.
...and don’t forget your tax break!
Did you know? If your home office meets certain requirements, you might be able to write off your home office on your taxes! If your home office is your primary workspace (that you use regularly and exclusively...i.e. no sharing), your monthly cost burden just got a whole lot lighter. Depending on your office setup and square footage, you can deduct a percentage of your bills, utilities, insurance, HOA fees, mortgage interest, and property taxes! Find out more here.
Naturally, the first step is to connect with a lender to see what you can afford (Hint: it may be more than you think!), download our exclusive Buyer’s Guide (with important insights and tips specific to San Antonio), and contact an expert agent to get started! We’d love to answer any questions and show you around our one-of-a-kind city.