Plan your office!
Today when most of us have one or more computers at home it is even more important to invest in a good home office solution.
To be able to create good conditions and enjoy your work it is necessary to act.
All of us are fighting clutter, cables and loads of papers at home. We all have a lot of incoming mail and bills to deal with. If you are or are planning to work fully or partly from home this is an even bigger battle. To be able to create good conditions and enjoy your work it is necessary to act.
Here are some short tips how to get started.
Prepare Your Solotion
Consider your total needs and put it on paper. Define both your own and your entire family’s needs. Do not forget all different types of storage, for everything from paperclips to old bills. Try to find a space where you can work without being disturbed.
The best solution is of course to allocate an entire room, but if you have limited space, a corner or a part of a bigger room can be used very efficiently. A part of the bedroom, integrated in a book case in the living room, in the kitchen or even under the stair-case. Select the space that you need or can spare.
Measure the space and make a scale drawing on paper. Draw simple scale furnishings that you can play around with to find the most optimal solution. Using wheels makes your solution even more flexible. Make sure that you have enough power outlets and phone jacks at the right spots.
Plan Your Space
If you have to integrate your home office in another room, remember that a corner working station is the best use of space. Furniture on wheels is good if you can store away the working station out of sight. If your space is limited you can also try to integrate the working station with a table top in a book case or in a wardrobe. Here are some other tips if you have space for a dedicated home office but if you aren’t sure how to use it;
Corridor set up
- Good if you have a narrow and deep office. Desk placed with a parallel corridor created with a buffet or a chest of drawers within reach from the desk chair.
- Good if you have a really narrow office, e.g. in a hallway. Single row of Desk and/or a computer table along the wall.
Parallel set up
- Good as part of a room or if you have a narrow office.Desk placed parallel with a computer table. This is quite a open solution that can be placed in quite a small space. One of the work surfaces can be placed towards a wall to improve concentration.
- Good if you have a small and square office, but this set-up works great in many different situations. Desk with a side table or computer table in a right angle works well in rooms that are square. L-shape is really efficient if you work a lot on the computer.
- This set-up works best if you have a bigger office. Desk with a side table and a computer table on each side forming an U. Works really well since all functions then can be in arms reach.
Plan for Efficent Work
When you are planning your home office it is important to plan the space for efficiency. Divide your space into three types of areas;
1. Close at hand
- The stuff on your desk and in your drawers. Such as the computer, the phone, the letter tray and last but not least the waste paper basket. Make sure you have enough free space on your desk. Letter trays are very efficient!
2. Within reach
- Printer and fax machines. And of course those extremely useful storage solutions that you will use often, like shelves, chest of drawers on wheels and cupboards.
3. Within stretch
- Storage solutions aimed for archive purposes and stuff that you do not need on a regular basis. Like book cases, drawers and cupboards. Use available wall space for space saving shelves etc.
Include these three areas in your drawing and make sure that you have furnishings that meet your needs. Give extra attention to the space for your equipment: Computer, printer, scanner and fax machine.
Your office is a working place and, as such, it should be kept as simple and well organized as possible. Do not let style win over practicality. Stick to one or two styles of furnishing that blend well together with each other.
A certain chair and another desk might look great on its own but less good together. Try to create one picture. In a dual purpose space the style should blend together with other furnishings.
Well designed tools and accessories will give the final touch and bring personality and pleasure to your work. Think of all smaller desk top details and wall accessories for displaying ideas, memos, for storing everyday items or just to show off a bit.
Also use colors as a tool for feeling and impression. A ceiling in a slightly darker color will make the room lower, and of course reversely, a ceiling in a brighter color will make the room seem higher. Two darker opposite walls and two lighter ones can make the room feeling wider. Different colors can influence both inspiration and concentration.
Red energy and inspiration
Choosing office Furniture
Before you buy a desk a chair or other equipment for your home office, make sure it is functional, comfortable and meets ergonomic standards. Even if an old piece of furniture is important to you it might not offer the right function and/or comfort. Furnishings on wheels make your solution even more flexible.
Stick to few styles of furnishing that blend together with each other for a good and professional impression.
Your desk is the core of your home office and will determine other furniture selection for the rest of the office.The style is of course important and even more important if your working station is part of another room.
Chose your desk very carefully based on how much surface space you want and what type of additional features are practical for your work.
If you are working a lot on the computer, it is a big advantage to have an additional computer table with space for computer hardware and an ergonomic shelf for the key-board.
A good desk is at least 75-85 cm deep and 160-180 cm wide since a good area of reach for most people is 75-80 cm. You might need a deeper table if you are placing a large screen on your Desk.
A good height is 70-75 cm. If possible, select a height adjustable desk for a variation between sitting and standing. A durable surface is always important and especially if you are working with things that are hot or can cause stains. The melamine surface is highly durable and easy to clean. It will not be marked by pressure or heavy equipment.
Make sure that your table has enough space for your legs even if computer hardware is placed under the table top. Some drawers are good for storing all the small items you need for your daily work. Paperclips, pens, glue and more. Drawers will help you keep the work surface clean. Avoid a desk with drawers if you like to stash things away. They will be stuffed with things you do not need in no time
Investing in a quality office chair is at least as important as in the desk when creating a comfortable office. Keep adjustability and long term comfort in mind. It is always worth spending money on a well designed chair that offers the right support to back and legs. Even if you are on a budget it is better to buy a good second-hand chair rather than an inexpensive lower grade model. A good base can always be upgraded with a new fabric and some oil.
When you select your home office chair look for this;
1. Adjustable height
2. Adjustable back rest, both in height and angle
3. For best support and comfort. Look for a built in support curve in the lower part of the back rest
4. A tilt feature that allows you to lean for-and backwards with your feet on the ground
Clutter is the biggest enemy to any office. It is very important to continuously maintain your office, but all types of paper and good-to-have stuff can easily take over if you do not take charge yourself. The best weapon is proper planning but also using the right furnishings in the right size and amount.
Try to group your stuff in a logical way based on subject as well as frequency. It looks much better and makes it easier to find. All your storage solutions should be flexible and easy to change and extend according to different need.
Doors, drawers and various holders will help you to create an efficient, calm and tidy look.
Desk top .
Avoid too much stuff on your desk top. It is inconvenient and makes it look messy. Storage of papers/issues that you are working with right now can be stored in separate magazine holders or if the desk space allows it, good letter trays.
Tools that you need often could be placed on the desktop in nice containers or grouped tightly together if it is convenient and improves the visual impression. Like a nice stapler, a puncher and a tape dispenser.
Drawer units are great for storing smaller items, like paper clips, push-pins, tape, glue etc. that you use frequently but also for storing papers divided in one subject per drawer. Can be used under the table top or as a shelf for a printer or a scanner. Gives plenty of storage close at hand and it’s easy to add additional units if needed.
Use available wall space for space saving shelves. It is very good to utilize wall shelves for binders and magazine holders that you use semi-frequently. Put the shelves close at hand behind you or above you.
A set of good looking book supports will make the shelves even more efficient. Wall shelves on a rail system offers maximum flexibility.
Place the shelves with minimum air between them for best use and look.
A normal book case is very efficient for most storage but has the disadvantage of looking messy quite easily. Group books neatly and use binders and magazine files of the same color to prevent that.
Cabinet offers a lot of possibilities. Can be good for archive purposes or equipment that you want to hide or to be placed within stretch. The doors will help you to create a calm and tidy look. This helps to reduce stress and improve work joy.
A good filing system is essential for an enjoyable and efficient home office.
A good system will spare you frustration as well as time. Make sure that you put up a system that is logical and easy to overview. A good working system should be easy to maintain and flexible to extend and change.
1. Map down what you need to file
2. Try to divide your need into smaller group of related areas
3. Plan the storage space needed for the most efficient handling.
4. File only documents that have a value for the future.
A good tip is to use one file or binder for each main area. It helps you to keep the desk clean and focus on your task. A basic set up would require 10-12 files or binders.
Daylight is very important if you are working longer periods during the day!
It’s good both for mind and eyes.
Do not forget to install blinds or a curtain to prevent tiring glare from your screen.
Try to add various light sources for an optimal result. Lamps can also be stylish and very decorative.
Good lighting can be built up in a couple of steps;
1. General lighting in the ceiling for an overall good visibility. Connect a dimmer if possible for optimal flexibility.
2. Good working light needs to be focused on the surface without glare or reflections.
3. Use extra task lighting to provide direct light of the job at hand. Use a lamp with a flexible arm so that the light can be adjusted and reach any direction. Place the lamp on the left side of you if you are right handed and reverse, to avoid shadows.
4. Light behind your computer screen will decrease contrasts and make your eyes less tired
5. Try different wattage on the bulb to find your own “light level” for best comfort.
One of the most important parts to be able to enjoy working at home is to be well organized. To sort in and outgoing mail, notes, reminders etc. in an efficient way. Letter trays, magazine holders, files and binders will do the trick.
Try to handle incoming issues promptly. Use an incoming mailbox for all issues that you haven’t acted upon.
Throw away everything at once that you do not need instead of shoveling it around. Ask always yourself if you ever will need it again and if so, if you can then get hold of it from someone else.
Work with one issue at a time. Issues that you aren’t working with at the moment should be filed away so that it is easy to find the material again and to get started quickly.
Keep the desk clean and tidy. With a well organized home office desk it is much easier to work efficiently.
Put up a desk organization with letter trays e.g;
To day - Work to do the coming day
To do - Work to do the coming weeks
On going - Work that hasn’t been finalized
To read - Interesting stuff that you have no time to read now
To be paid - Keep track of all the annoying bills
Follow-up - Issues that need the reaction from someone else
File - Stuff that you really need
Remember that drawers and doors covers up and help making a proper and neat look.
Even if you are working only part time in your home office it is important for your well-being to know and follow some basics;
1. Choose a chair that gives the right supports for back and legs and that can be tipped forward and backward for optimal function and comfort.
2. Choose your desk carefully that support a good posture while working. The desk top should be deep enough for right support for your arms working with the key board.
3. Prevent pain in eyes, neck and head with proper lighting.
4. Eye distance to the computer screen should be at least 70 cm. Make sure that the computer screen is placed so that the eyes meet the center of the screen without bending head or neck.
5. Keep arms, wrists and fingers in a straight angle to the key board for best support. Use a padded wrist rest.
6. Try to change hand and arm position now and then if you are working a lot at the computer. Make sure that you have an ergonomic keyboard. Try to do some other work in between using the computer. If you are feeling stiff, have cramps or tickles it can be a signal of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Take these signals serious before they get chronic.
7. Perform stretching and breathing exercises often. Stretch arms and fingers and do not forget to give the back a stretch, too. Get up and take a walk every now and then not to avoid pain and stiffness.
Relaxing is good!
Take it easy. Do not get stressed.
Leave your chair at least once an hour to stretch out and take some deep breaths.
Do not forget to open up the window from time to time to get a pinch of fresh oxygen.
A couple of plants will help to keep the air clean and fresh. Turning smell and dust from printer ink, plastic material and other chemicals into oxygen. Plants like dracaena or gerbera works well.
Take regular breaks, drink something or take a brisk walk outside. Remember that daylight is very important if you are working longer periods during the day!!!
Plan for tomorrow!
Use the last 15 minutes of your workday to plan for tomorrow
At the end of your nine-to-five day, you wind up frantically composing the e-mail you meant to send in the morning while simultaneously wondering what to make for dinner.
Experts recommend this remedy: Spend the last 15 minutes preparing for tomorrow.
It sound simplistic, but writing down your plan for the next day gets things off your mind. You’ll walk out the door (or away from the corner of the kitchen that passes for a home office) feeling collected, and walk back in the next day with purpose.
Here’s how to make a graceful exit.
- Composing a to-do list is a no-brainer, but instead of writing it on random Post-its, keep it in a notebook so you can refer to the list later.
- List the e-mails you need to send the next day. Too often you get caught just responding to e-mail, so making a list will put you in a proactive mode.
- File away as much as possible. Create a system that functions like a calendar, with 31 folders for each day of the month, and sort papers by the date you need them again.
Enjoy working at home!