With more and more employers offering flexible working, the office has become wherever you and your laptop find yourself, be it a café, train or kitchen table. By 2020, it's estimated that half of the UK workforce will be working remotely, creating a greater need than ever for dedicated spaces inside our homes that offer a practical environment in which to log on. Here are some ideas for creating your perfect home office.
Define your space
“The first thing to do when decorating anything is determine who is using the space and what is it being used for,” advises Helen Maxfield Partner & Assistant Buyer, Living & Dining. As obvious as this sounds, do consider if your home office is going to be shared by all the family – children and their homework included – or solely used as an adult workstation. This will determine how much storage you need too. Whether you’re converting a bedroom or furnishing an alcove, ensure you have at least one plug socket nearby and have measured the space meticulously.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but there are some key buys that will make your work zone infinitely more pleasant. A well-designed desk, a comfortable chair and decent lighting are essentials. “Spending money on an ergonomic chair that you can adjust to fit to you is really, really important,” says Helen, especially if you’re going to be sitting for prolonged periods of time. Lighting is also key, especially if you’re not by a window. Helen recommends a task light, which should be positioned to the opposite of your writing hand so it doesn’t cast a shadow when you’re writing. They are also ideal placed behind laptop screens to help deflect the glare.
What about storage?
We’re encouraged to be paperless, but if you find yourself with lots of documents to keep or books to refer to, then you’re going to need more than just a surface to house a computer. Look for desks that come with built-in drawers or, better still, co-ordinating drawer towers that slip underneath. A filing cabinet may be the answer for lots of household paperwork – and you can rest a printer on it. Helen suggests modular shelving, such as the String range, for furniture that is easily interchangeable and is “a good way to get around storage that is quite stylish”.
Think about your wellbeing
Corporate workplaces are paying more attention to the wellbeing of their employees, so if you’re freelance, don’t short-change yourself. “A home office is almost always a second thought,” says Helen, “so make the space comfortable for you and somewhere you’ll enjoy sitting in – it’s not just about the desk and the chair.” Techniques as simple as hanging artwork on the walls and placing plants and trinkets along shelves will create an environment that is more welcoming. Separation – especially if you’re sectioning off an area in a room – is also a good idea. Helen suggest a rug, “so that you can say, ‘I’m in my workspace now’ – as a society we’re so blended, that actually just having that little bit of separation is so important.”