Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Design a home office suitable for the Pandemic period.
Many of us now find ourselves working at home during the pandemic. I find myself in that position as well – I’m spending a much greater proportion of my week at my desk instead of client sites. Despite the forthcoming vaccines, I perceive that this could very well be a long-term change in work style for many of us. So now’s the time to think about designing an entirely new home office, or refurbishing the one you already have. These are some suggestions for a highly functional home office environment.
Be near a window. If it all possible, put your home office in a room with a window in it. Either have your chair facing the window, or at such an angle that you can easily see out through the window whenever possible. This reduces the feeling of being “cooped up”, and it’s a great mental break to be able to look outside while you’re on those long, seemingly never-ending zoom calls. It’s just such a wonderful mental boost to be able to see the outside world while you’re in your office. The natural light will also help your sense of mental well-being.
Use adjustable window coverings. Choose window coverings such as blinds, where you can vary the light level all the way from fully open to fully closed, quickly and easily. Sometimes when you’re on a call using your camera, you may wish to filter out some of the light that may wash out your camera. And after dark, you’ll want the blinds closed for privacy, unless you’re very high up in an urban setting.
Have a comfortable visitor chair. Set up your office so that a visitor feels welcomed. Those visitors could be family, friends, or even some business associates from time to time. The longer you spend in your office without human contact, the more you live appreciate your visitor, so be sure to make them feel welcome!
Use an ergonomic chair. Don’t skimp on this – be kind to your body. Buy a chair that can be adjusted in several different dimensions so you can tailor it to your specific height, posture, etc. Be sure to position it at the ideal height for your computer screen.
Supplement the heat source. Many home offices are not at the same temperature as the rest of the house. If the rest of the house is empty, you may keep it cooler than your office. If you spend long hours alone in your home at your office, you can keep your office warm while allowing the remainder of the home stay somewhat cooler. Additionally, many of us find that we like our office to be warmer because we’re moving as much, and we don’t want to be distracted by chills. Invest in a baseboard type heater if you are renovating, or an infrared type heater if you need something portable.
Use Bright Paint Color. Paint your walls with vibrant colours. Have fun with this!. You want your office to be bright, cheery, and optimistic. Avoid dark, more traditional colours.
Deploy a do not disturb indicator. If your house is busy with other people coming and going, set up some type of practical “do not disturb” indicator on your office door. This way you can reduce the odds of someone inadvertently interrupting your online meeting.
Reduce visible wiring. Try to hide as many wires as possible behind your desk by using wiring tracks, or fasten wires to the rear surface area of your desk.
Enclose your printer. Considering enclosing your printer/scanner. If possible, have an enclosed space for your printer/scanner. This way the overall noise level is much lower, whereas you can still easily access your printer to feed it paper or pullout a print job. This also means you can print while in an online meeting!
Dampen the Noise. Use a rug to reduce noise level. If you have hard floor surface such as wood or tile, this will not only make your office quieter but you will sound somewhat better in meetings. Low-level noises will not be as distracting.
Keep your background clutter free. If you’re using a camera during online meetings, you want the background visible to others to be neat, tidy, free of distractions, and look very professional and presentable. After all, your office says something about you. Make a positive statement. Use shelving to keep everything well-organized and neat and tidy.
Add green. Put some larger sized tropical type plants in your office. This gives a friendly, warmer, more “human” feel to your space.
Use good lighting. Select lighting that suits the type of work you do. If you use your camera during meetings, you’ll want a suitable amount of light on your face so that you’re not showing shadows. You’ll also want all your workspaces to be well lit, without being overly harsh. Generally, you want some good ceiling light, adjustable if possible, one or two good quality right LED desk lamps, and possibly a corner lamp.