How to Set Up a Productive Home Based Workspace

The opportunity to be able to work from home is both amazing and difficult at the same time. One the one hand you’re able to wake up at your leisure, saunter into your office (or onto the sofa, wherever you work) and set your own hours without worrying that he boss is watching over your shoulder. The downside is that in your own home, it becomes too easy to slack off and too easy to work way too hard because there’s no separation between your work and home life.

After the initial luxury of working from home, watching movies in the background and going for mid-afternoon walks (or naps) wears thin, you’ll find that you do prefer some semblance or structure to be able to work effectively and efficiently. This all begins with choosing a more efficient workspace.

Choose a room or area of your home that you can set up as your office / workspace and where it won’t be in the way or messed up with ease. If you have a spare room, it makes the task far easier but if not, setting up a desk in the lounge or fashioning a makeshift bar style desk against a wall or window will suffice. The intention is to both set up a productive workspace but also provide that much needed separation from work at the end of the day. Choose somewhere out of view (if you have the space) from the bedroom or other place of relaxation so you can truly disconnect from work when you’re not working.

Lighting

Choose a room or space with an abundance of natural light. Place your desk by a window, under a skylight or by the French doors – wherever you’ll have the best light. Not only will it aid your power bill but it’ll also be far easier on the eyes than keeping the light on all day. Natural light is also a big booster for productivity.

However bright the natural light though, you will still need a lamp or overhead light (or both) to aid you in low light, overcast or evening scenarios. Choose soft lighting in multiple applications so that you can adjust to suit. We use a desk lamp for a brighter, more focused light with an overhead low watt light for general use.

Desk position

If you’re into Feng Shui or just like to see how the positions of your desk placement affects income and power under the theory of Feng Shui, there are many resources online to show you the optimal placement based on your room configuration.

The Basics

A multifunction printer is essential as you’ll find yourself scanning and printing a lot. That also means you need back up ink cartridges and paper and while you’ll likely use your fax function maybe once, it’s still advantageous to have.

A good high-speed Wi-Fi connection and a proper handset for your cellphone allow you to work far more efficiently than balancing your cellphone on your shoulder while trying to simultaneously work. A microphone and headphones are also handy for when you need to conduct Skype calls for a more professional and higher quality Skype experience.

It goes without saying but basic office supplies, pens, a computer, paper, calendars, planners etc. should all be a given.

Furniture

If you have the luxury of a spare room for an office, really think about the space before throwing any old furniture in there. Do you plan on bringing clients here? If so, the space will need to be visually pleasing, provide adequate seating and feel / look / smell inviting. While a good many motivational posters these days use profanity to get a point across and ‘drive the motivation home’, we advise leaving them out of the office if you think clients will ever be coming in, it’s just not professional.

A good quality desk and desk chair should be your big investments and the two pieces you spend the most time deciding on. For Harlow Garland, they have a DIY desk because they couldn’t find something that met their needs. They bought an ornate dining table base off Trade Me with a free (but broken) table top, completely stripped and recovered the desk top, added shelving and embedded their logo in epoxy resin and paired it with a grand wingback chair (adding casters to for practicality and range of motion) to provide comfort, back support and complement the overall aesthetic of the room.

Decorate the space with artwork, colours, scents, motivating quotes or images – anything that puts you in creative mood, the more personalised the space, the more inspiring and motivating, the more productive you’ll find you are. Make sure it’s in your eyeline rather than overhead to ensure that you’re constantly seeing that reinforcement, even if it’s just peripherally.

Storage

You will need storage – a lot of it. Shop around and see what’s available readily and continually so that you don’t buy 6 folders of a trendy new Kikki-K line to find that the line has been replaced a few months later and is no longer available. Opt for a mix of box files, accordion files, suspension files - anything that is relevant to your business.