Working from a home office has become a common alternative to the grind of working in the standard open-plan or cubical workplace environment.
Often the domain of entrepreneurs and business owners, a home office gives you greater control and flexibility with your schedule. It allows you to work exactly how you want to – go ahead, wear those sweatpants – without risk of distracting others or having them distract you. It’s also a cost-efficient way to operate a small business that isn’t quite ready to lease office space.
However, that’s not to say that working from home is any easier than working in an office – and sometimes, your setup can even make it more difficult than it needs to be.
The reality is that creating an optimal home office can often fall by the wayside, leaving you to make do with a functional space but not necessarily one that will inspire genius ideas. In reality, a well-designed home office can have a flow-on effect on your productivity, as well as your state of mind – and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
To help you make the most of your workspace, we’ve found the best home office setup ideas to maximize your output. Check it out below and start working at your peak today.
A Clutter-Free Home Office
You might not realize it, but all that excess stuff in your home office is affecting you.
Clutter has a way of adding stress to our lives. The more things we have around us, the less we’re able to focus on a task due to our brains being so busy processing it all.
A study from researchers at DePaul University even found links between procrastination and clutter issues, with frustration growing the older we get – not ideal when a home office is supposed to be where you get things done.
The good news is that all of this can be helped – just remove the excess!
Start tidying by throwing away or recycling unnecessary papers and filing what you need. You could even use a scanner to digitize your files so you don’t need to physically store them. If you have shelves, straighten them up and see what can be moved onto them from your desk. Find a home for all of your pens and stationery – even if it’s just in an old mug.
Next, take a look at any ornaments, toys, and photographs taking up real estate on your desk. Which ones bring you joy and which ones are just distractions? Find new homes for the bad influences.
Finally, take the time to make your home office shine by cleaning your desk – a clean, clear workspace will do wonders for your head and efficiency.
Nail Your Home Office Furniture
Home office furniture is easy to neglect but should be a priority. After all, you could spend over 1,300 hours a year sitting at your desk.
Finding an appropriate-sized home office desk is important. There’s nothing more frustrating than constantly having to rearrange your screen, laptop, and keyboard – not to mention the time it slowly sucks. Home office desks don’t have to be expensive, but if budget is a concern, check second-hand shops, eBay, or Facebook.
You could also consider a standing desk. While these can be costly, there are cheaper alternatives to be found – or you could make your own.
But it’s not all about home office desks, Buying a comfortable, supportive modern home office chair can have a huge impact on your work too. Research shows that a good chair and understanding of office ergonomics can help boost productivity by almost 18 percent.
Meanwhile, chairs that don’t provide adequate support can result in nerve damage, as well as issues with blood circulation and organ function. Yikes.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when buying a modern home office chair:
- Make sure it’s adjustable. It should move up and down and ideally, the seat and armrests should be adjustable too. When you sit, your feet should be flat on the ground and the armrests should be even with your desk surface.
- Make sure it takes care of your back. You want a chair with good upper and middle back support (make sure it supports the natural curve of your spine), but crucially, great lumbar support too.
- Make sure it can recline. A chair with a recline function will help you relieve pressure on your spine and back muscles, making it more comfortable to sit for long periods (and get that work done!).
- Make sure it’s comfortable. It’s all well and good if it’s supportive and adjustable, but it’s got to be comfortable to sit in, right? Be sure to give any seat a good test in person before committing.
Home Office Design
For many people working from a home office, this might seem like an ambitious section, but stick with me. Home office design doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive to be good. Many home office setup ideas will help make your workspace a productive and pleasant place for next to nothing.
First thing’s first, make sure your space is arranged well. It’s a home office design move that costs you nothing except time – and maybe a little sweat. Think about the space you’re working with and figure out how to optimize it. If you have a window, try to work close to it – natural light can increase concentration up to 15 percent. Keep vital files and tools close to your desk to minimize having to get up and ruin your workflow. Have your desk in a space where you’re going to be comfortable, away from drafts and with enough room to maneuver around.
We’ve talked about color psychology in terms of your brand, but it’s also worth applying to your workspace. Color psychology explores how humans are affected by color – and it might be more than you think. For example, greens and blues are the best colors for focus and efficiency. Meanwhile, a University of Texas study found gray, beige and white workspaces can induce sadness in women, with purple and orange offices doing the same for men.
I’m not necessarily suggesting you paint your home office neon green, but some colorful paintings, posters, or accessories could work wonders. Plus, adding pops of color lifts a room, making it a more inviting space to work in.
And speaking of light, here’s a bright idea: Make sure your home office is amply lit. There’s nothing worse than toiling away in the shadows to give you tired eyes and a headache – and bright fluorescent bulbs aren’t any better. Rather than having one main light in your office, mix it up with a floor lamp and a desk lamp as well. This way you can find the best lighting solution at any time of day.
And if you want some truly modern home office ideas, check out smart bulbs. They’re a bit of an investment to buy, but they give you the ability to control exactly how much and what type of light they shine. And, because they’re LED lights, they’re also very energy efficient.
This type of lighting could also help if your home office is part of your living room or even bedroom. Use one light temperature during work hours and a more relaxed temperature when you’re off the clock.
Home Office Ideas: Creating a Calm Space
When we talk about great home office ideas, it’s easy to think about furniture and decorations, but creating a calm environment is just as important. If you’re putting in long hours at your desk, you don’t want to feel stressed and anxious every time you set foot in the room. Having a space you enjoy being in will put you in the best possible mindset.
We’ve briefly touched on decorating your office, but it’s worth digging a little deeper as it can be good for practical reasons as well as aesthetic ones. If you’ve constantly got lists of things to do, a notice board or whiteboard near your desk will revolutionize your to-do lists. Many entrepreneurs with home offices also hang motivational sayings and affirmations to inspire them – it may sound corny but many Redditors on r/Entrepreneur swear by it. And of course, photos of friends and family will remind you of why you’re working hard.
Bringing a plant into your home office will not only brighten the place up but also help your health and improve the air quality (it’s true, NASA said so). Plus, having another living thing in your office makes the room less sterile, which is the same reason many people who work at home love the company of a pet. If you’re not a plant whisperer, buy a peace lily, spider plant, aloe, or snake plant – these are all low-maintenance and easy to care for.
And while we’re on the subject of air purity, why not treat your nose while you work. Much like colors, scents also have an impact on you. Picking up some scented candles or an aroma diffuser could help you work. Cinnamon is good for sharpening your mind, citrus is reinvigorating, and peppermint works well for concentration.
Although not strictly necessary for a home office, investing in accessories like noise-canceling headphones can also be a godsend for keeping an office a calm space. Sometimes noise is unavoidable but too much of it can be incredibly distracting. Noise-canceling headphones – or listening to white noise – can help you block it all out and remain productive.
One big consideration with your home office should be where in the house it’s situated. If you’ll be working while others are home, it’s probably not a great idea to have an office where people are constantly congregating or passing through. Aim for a room in a quiet spot in the house, or even the basement if you’re comfortable sacrificing some natural light.
Quick Tips for Designing a Home Office
- Arrange your office to make the most of light and space
- If you don’t have a lot of natural light, lamps are your friend
- Make your space inviting and inspirational with colors
- Keep things calm with good lighting, plants, and nice smells
- Hang posters with powerful quotes that will motivate you
Dealing with Distractions
Distractions can be deadly to productivity, so it’s important to have a plan to keep yourself on track when in a home office.
Working from home might seem like an invitation to family and friends, so setting boundaries is a must. Establish rules for when you shouldn’t be disturbed and set boundaries for visits, such as no unannounced visits.
Pets can be fantastic company, but not if they’re noisy distractions. If your dog barks constantly there’s no quick fix except training, which can take time. However, you could arrange for them to be out of the house a couple of days a week with a service such as doggy daycare.
Get a lot of door to door salespeople in your area? The doorbell constantly ringing is bound to break you out of your state of flow. A great solution I spotted on Reddit is installing a toggle switch on your doorbell that disconnects the ringer whenever you need to. It requires a small amount of DIY handiwork but afterward, you can disconnect it with ease whenever you need uninterrupted work time.
Making the Most of Your Home Office
There are a bunch of home office ideas in this article that we hope will get you motivated to create your optimal workspace, but sometimes you need a place to start. Here are our top takeaways for setup and design so you can get started today.
How to Set up a Home Office
- Choose a desk that fits everything you need
- Pick an adjustable, supportive, and comfortable chair
- Arrange your office to make the most of light and space
- If possible, have your home office in a quiet area of the house
- Use whiteboards to easily keep track of tasks
- Have a home for everything you might need – tools, files, appliances, etc.
- Only bring in what you need – don’t let clutter take over
With all of these tips and tricks in mind, your home workspace will be transformed in no time. While your office doesn’t need to be filled with the newest and most expensive equipment, some small adjustments and purchases can make an absolute world of difference. If you’ve implemented any of the ideas in this article, comment below and let us know what your home office setup looks like.