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How to Design a Home Office to Maximize Productivity

Office Ideas to Inspire a Productive and Pleasant Environment

Technologies such as more powerful laptop computers and cloud computing have allowed many companies to offer employees the convenience of working from home at least on occasion. This doesn't mean they want you to return a few work related phone calls while doing your laundry. Employees with a work-from-home benefit are expected to perform with the same level of productivity as though they were in the office. One key to maximizing your productivity involves optimizing the physical space where you will perform the work.

working from home office ideas
CASE STUDY: The client was looking for a quiet and efficient home office that would allow her to be very productive when working from home. The space needed to be a calm oasis where she could leave the hectic needs of raising two children while working full time outside the door, allowing her to focus on work. She requested an organized work area with space for her computer and printer, lots of functional storage, plus room for personal art and memorabilia. The space chosen for the office renovation was previously a small first floor bedroom. However, the clients prefer to keep all the children's bedrooms upstairs, on the same level as their own. As a result, this room was rarely used and ripe for a makeover. The customer wanted to incorporate a bench/sitting area with storage into the design, as well as more significant cabinet storage for books and binders, while still maintaining a very clean and modern overall aesthetic. We made sure to leave open wall space for the customer's art work as well.

Although not needed on a regular basis, the office is designed with two workstations, ensuring both husband and wife could work from home on the same day. The extra desk area is also handy when one of their boys needs a quiet area for homework or research projects.

Many homeowners seek guidance on how to design a home office that will help improve performance.

To ensure that you remain productive while working at home, you need to pay attention to your work environment and set up a distraction free area to function as a home office. Your home office setup can be a large, separate room, or simply a small, designated quiet corner. The key is that you want a pleasant and comfortable space that is separate from your everyday living space. It should be flexible enough to accommodate changing needs and provide a lot of storage so that you can keep needed office equipment and other materials at your fingertips.

Key Tenets When Designing a Home Office:

1. Separate your work space from your living area:

Eliminating distractions is one of the most critical elements to maximizing performance. If you live in a buzy household with other family members, you should try to find a separate room with a door to house your office. For many homeowners, this space will be a spare bedroom. Bedrooms can make ideal home offices. The entire sleeping section of the home is often vacant during the daytime hours, offering quiet and distraction free solitude. If you need to keep a bed for the occasional guest, consider purchasing a Murphy Bed for this room. Murphy beds fold up into a wall cabinet when not in use, allowing full use of the floor space for other pursuits. The lack of a visible bed helps to maintain a professional feel to the space, which can be important to your ability to focus and concentrate.

If you can't dedicate an entire room to your home office, try to dedicate a closet or cabinet and a quiet corner. The reality is that many people simply don't have the space to allocate an entire room to single duty as a home office. A cabinet or closet for storage of office equipment and supplies, in conjunction with a comfortable desk in a dedicated corner of a room that is quiet and somewhat private during the day, can serve as an effective home office. This type of set up works especially well if there is no one else home during the day.

working from home office ideas include a Murphy bed behind desk
This combination home office/guest room uses a Murphy bed behind the desk to handle occassional overnight guests.
working from home office ideas for basement office
This home office is located in a quiet corner of the basement under the stairs. The space offers offers the uninterrupted solitude this homeowner needs to concentrate on his work without the hustle and bustle of family life upstairs.

2. Make it comfortable:

Invest in a high quality adjustable chair and a desk or table that offers at least 48 inches of leg room. It can be tempting to pull out that old, unused, stiff chair from the basement and call it your new office chair, or just grab a dining room chair, but it will no one is productive when their back hurts or they are otherwise cramped and uncomfortable. Ergonomics are just as important to effective concentration as eliminating distractions.

the design for a home office should include a good chair
Investing in high quality office furniture, especially the chair, is very important to home office productivity.

3. Face your desk towards a window:

Rules on desk placement are different for the home office than they are in a corporate environment. At work, your desk is probably either facing the door to your office, or a coner of your cubicle. If you are lucky enough to have a window, it is probably behind your desk so that you sit with your back to it, or perpendicular to the desk, so that it aligns with your shoulder. At home, place your desk so that you can look out the window. There are numerous psychological benefits to seeing trees outside your window, from better health, faster recovery from illness, to greater productivity while working from home. Additionally, the window will offer a place to rest your eyes, as well as brightening your mood.

working from home office ideas include facing your desk towards a window for optimal productivity
Whether you are on the top floor of a high rise, or on the ground floor of a house, being able to look out a window at nature will improve your mood and increase your productivity. Always place your desk so that you can see out a window if possible.

4. Include plenty of storage:

Your ability to stay organized is directly related to having sufficient storage, Office equipment, office supplies, reference materials and personal memorabilia should all have a place to go in your new home office. If you have to keep getting up to retrieve materials needed to complete your work, it will take much longer than if everything is at your fingertips.

design a home office with plenty of storage
This personalized space has plenty of storage. It includes enough shelves to proudly display a collection of memorabilia and special books in addition to the usual office equipment or supplies. A comfortable chair and a well-lit desk make this space an environment that allows this homeowner to get a lot of work done.

5. Make it flexible:

The best home offices are flexible enough to adapt to changing situations and needs. If you don't have space for a dedicated office space in your home, consider a multifunctional piece of furniture that can do double duty, providing the office space during the hours that you need it, but transforming into a different space later on.

flexible home office and entertainment center can accommodate two workers
This flexible home office/entertainment center can accommodate up to two workers. The desks slide into the entertainment center after hours when this space becomes a place to relax and watch television rather than work. Cabinets that flank the TV hide the office equipment and supplies when they are not in use.

The combination of environmental concerns, new technologies, cost savings, and added convenience for workers is bringing an increase in the number of people who work from home. Key to maintaining productivity is a home work space that harbors an environment conducive to getting work done. The best home office designs offer separation from the main living area, comfortable and ergonomic furniture, a window and or good lighting, plenty of storage and flexibility in use. If you stick to these guidelines, you should have a home office that is both pleasant as well as productive.