In 2020, the American workforce experienced a dramatic shift in workspaces.
As Covid-19 slammed the country, businesses found their office doors closing and workers setting up shop in their own homes.
Many have found the shift to be positive. You can wake up in the morning, make your own pour-over coffee, and shuffle to your home office to get started on your work!
However, the transition has been very challenging for some:
- Playing children or the running vacuum create distracting background noise
- Desks get piled high with papers that don’t have a place
- Unattractive backgrounds are embarrassing for client and team meetings on Zoom
- Motivation is hard to find for getting out of your comfortable pajamas
In short, it’s a struggle to stay productive and professional while working from home!
At The Amish Craftsman, we know just how you feel. You deserve to feel comfortable working from home while staying focused and productive.
That’s why we’ve written this article on designing a productive home office. As a bonus, we’ve included a few mistakes you should make sure to avoid when working from home.
Ready to go? Let’s get started!
Why Working From Home Is Here To Stay
Like we already mentioned, most employees have enjoyed the opportunity to work from home.
In fact, remote workers report a Workforce Happiness Index of 75 out of 100, compared to 71 for in-office employees. And, remote employees are more likely to report being satisfied with their jobs than office-based workers (57% vs. 50%).
What’s more, 7% of workers say that the ability to work from home is so important that they are willing to take a 10% to 20% pay cut to work remotely.
But it doesn’t stop there - many employers are also beginning to see the value of working from home.
After all, happy employees usually lead to longer terms of employment. And experience in any industry increases efficiency and productivity.
Who wouldn’t want to attract and retain good talent?
Furthermore, working from a home office can support mental health.
Because flexible work options create better mental health. In fact, employees without access to flexible work are nearly two times more likely to have poor or very poor mental health.
Perhaps that’s why over 80% of company leaders plan to permit remote work after the pandemic and why an Upwork study predicts that 22% of the American workforce will be remote by 2025.
So what’s the bottom line?
Working from home is here to stay - and it is well worth your time and energy to design a home office you love to work in.
Why Work Space Matters
Does the design and layout of your home office space even matter? After all, you’re working from home - you can do whatever you want!
Well - not quite.
Science tells us that how we surround ourselves and carry ourselves profoundly impacts our growth as humans.
Have you experienced the feeling of invincibility that comes with buying a new product?
If you love basketball, a new pair of sneakers can make you feel better at the game.
Of course, your skill level has not changed at all - but the new shoes make you think it has. And as a result of your increased confidence, you DO play better!
In other words:
The phrase “dress for success” is true - and research psychologist Jeffrey L. Magee has proven it.
Magee surveyed over 500 firms to assess the impact of dress in the workplace. His studies concluded that continually relaxed dress ultimately leads to relaxed manners, relaxed morals, and relaxed productivity.
We shouldn’t be surprised!
Just think about your own experience:
You might wake up feeling groggy, stumbling around the house in sweatpants and a t-shirt - coffee is your only highlight. The day seems blurry, and your ambition is low.
But take a few minutes to get dressed, and the results are wondrous. It's as if you just drank another cup of coffee!
It's incredible what a simple outfit can do. Button up that shirt, and your whole mood shifts. Tie up those oxfords, and you're ready to conquer the world! The sky is brighter, and your energy spikes.
The same goes for your home office space!
Does your home office double as storage space for your children’s toys or a man cave? Your work will inherently feel invaluable, and you’ll be less motivated to work.
Alternatively, a simple, organized desk saves time, establishes you as a professional, clears brain space for creativity, and reduces stress.
At the end of the day, those who design and organize their home offices for productivity are the ones who will succeed and thrive when working from home.
They will pass up the competition and be valuable professionals in any market.
Those who don’t optimize their home office space will lag behind and struggle to stay focused.
You want to be one of the productive ones - so let’s figure out how to make that happen with a home office designed for efficiency.
Common Mistakes In Setting Up A Home Office
Before we get into the specifics of designing a home office where you can be a productive professional, let’s explore a few mistakes you should avoid.
Mistake #1: Thinking You Can “Tune Out” The Plasma Screen
A lot of people think they can ignore the distractions that surround them. And while you may be able to resist a TV or gaming console for a while, you’re sure to break after a while.
Discipline is like a muscle - that means you can strengthen it, which is good. Unfortunately, that also means you can wear it out if you use it all the time.
Beyond that, you don’t want to waste brain space, saying “no” to temptations. You should reserve that brain space for creative work!
So don’t deceive yourself. Buckle down and get rid of unnecessary distractions in your home office.
Mistake #2: Inadequate Storage Components
In an era in which many people choose to go paperless, home office storage seems less critical.
But don’t be overconfident!
One international survey showed that workers who have gone paperless lose up to two hours a week fruitlessly searching for lost digital documents.
And some tasks simply are much more effective when done on paper. Writing by hand, increases creativity over writing on a screen.
If that’s not enough, many legal and important documents must have a physical storage space.
And what about your “non-work” materials like tax documents, a favorite book, or papers from a non-profit you are helping with?
We like the way it’s said in The Harvard Business Review: “When our space is a mess, so are we.”
We’re all for minimizing storage space, but don’t get fooled by thinking you can get away without it. A file cabinet or a desk with a few drawers is the bare minimum for home office organization.
Mistake #3: Prioritizing Form Over Function
Let’s be clear: having a beautiful home office area is very important! It’s encouraging every time you walk into your home office, and it makes you want to be there.
So please, consider how you will make your home office attractive.
Just don’t place beauty on a pedestal.
Most of the stunning photos you see on Instagram and Pinterest are not real, lived-in, and used offices. And if they are, they were likely prepared specifically for that picture.
Getting home office inspiration from social media is perfectly acceptable - but don’t expect your space to look exactly like the pictures you see.
You can read our blog on stylish and fun design if you want more information on our ideas for making a room beautiful!
Mistake #4: Inadequate Wire Management
Managing all the wires attached to devices in your home office can be a major fiasco. And if you don’t plan ahead, you’ll probably have “wire spaghetti.”
You’ll want to make sure that your desk is situated near an outlet and at a place where you can hide wires if necessary.
(This is another strike against the trendy “middle-of-the-room” desks on many social media sites.)
Here are a few ideas for you to manage your wires:
- Get as much wireless equipment as possible (wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, etc.)
- Get a desk that has wire grommets.
- Purchase cable organizers like fabric cord covers, adhesive cable clips, and a cable box.
How To Design A Home Office For Productivity
Now that we know what NOT to do in a home office let’s take a look at what you can do to create a home office where you can get work done.
Questions To Ask Yourself
There are some basic tips that apply to almost every home office - we’ll explore this soon.
Yet, it’s also true that each home office is different. And each person has different needs. With that in mind, here are eight questions you should make sure to answer before designing your home office.
- How much desktop space do you require?
- What kind of storage do you need?
- What are your printing requirements?
- How much of your time is spent on the phone, and, while on the phone, do you use other equipment?
- Do you require access to a library of books or samples?
- Are you untidy, and must your clutter be left untouched by other people in the house?
- Do you need to be able to host others in your office?
- Do you often need to access files? Would these work better for you as lever arch files on a shelf or drop-in files in a desk drawer, or are there so many that they would work better on your wall?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a good foundation for what you need in your home office.
Now, let’s get off to some universal tips for productive home offices!
Ensure You Have Good Lighting
One of the easiest things you can do to boost productivity is to improve the lighting in your home office.
Poor lighting causes eye strain, headaches, fatigue, stress, and a host of other problems, both physical and mental.
On the other hand, plenty of light boosts our mood and energy and therefore increases productivity.
Light is so vital that those who don’t get enough can suffer from seasonal affective disorder - a type of depression that comes from a lack of light.
Natural light is ideal, but if getting enough natural light in your home office isn’t possible, you could consider installing some indirect lighting.
Choose Your Colors Carefully
Gray is a current indoor color trend. We can understand why - it looks clean, and it’s easy to match.
However, it may not be the best color option for your home office.
In a study from the University of Texas, researcher Nancy Kwallek tested the impact of color on productivity by giving three groups of people clerical tasks to complete in three different rooms; each painted a different color.
Kwallek found that colors can elicit a variety of emotions, affecting your mood and focus.
“White doesn’t help us be productive, and most work environments are white, off-white, or gray,” says Kwallek. So instead, of painting your home office gray or white, consider these colors:
- Red can help increase performance in people who have detail-oriented assignments
- Blue is calming and promotes communication, trust, and efficiency
- Green can enhance creative performance and might be a good idea where innovation is important.
Admittedly, different people can respond to colors in various ways - and painting your office walls green won’t automatically make you a creative person.
On the other hand, it makes sense to break out of the mold and optimize your home office for every drop of productivity you can get.
Control The Noise Level
Some people can handle more noise and chaos than others - but we all have a breaking point.
If at all possible, we suggest setting up your home office in an area that has clear boundaries from the rest of your home.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean everyone else in the household must suddenly go silent. But by having a room set aside for “work,” you can help your family respect your space.
And make sure you don’t overcomplicate this point.
You don’t need a separate wing of the house. Any room with one entrance door that you can easily close during work hours will suffice.
Select The Right Desk And Chair
You're going to spend a lot of time in your office and at your desk, so investing in a good desk and chair is entirely worth the cost.
Choosing a good desk: The cornerstone of any significant office is its desk. Sure, it’s where work happens, but it’s also a place where you can gather your thoughts and have a moment of stillness after a long day at work.
You’re going to want something you love - an office desk that is sturdy, beautiful, and functional.
We suggest keeping it classic and looking at hardwood desks, with a spacious desktop and some storage. They don't go out of style with passing trends and they will last for years - giving you something to hand down to your children.
Plus, you’ll feel like a true professional behind a classy wooden desk!
Choosing a good chair: Unless you want to deal with nagging back pain, you should choose an office chair that doesn’t compromise comfort and ergonomics.
Having a chair that is adjustable and built with quality casters is also critical.
If you aren’t sure how to pick out good office furniture, you can read our blog: 13 Tips & Tricks To Help You Pick High Quality Furniture.
Incorporate Storage And Shelving
Remember, don’t short change yourself on storage - you usually need more than you think!
That’s why we suggest including some quality bookcases in your office. Thankfully, they can serve for more than just storage space!
- A place to put valuable knick-knacks
- Decorate bookshelves to spice up the room
- Create an attractive background for Zoom meetings
And of course, bookshelves should be used for books!
A lot of things are going digital these days, but reading a book is extremely good for you. Research shows that regular reading:
- Improves brain connectivity
- Increases your vocabulary and comprehension
- Empowers you to empathize with other people
- Aids in sleep readiness and reduces stress
Anyone that cares about being a valuable, productive professional understands the enormous benefits of that short list. So read books, and showcase them on your bookshelf!
You don’t need to rely on technology alone to enable your workspace.
Bringing nature into your home can make a big difference as well. Plants help give life to the space and remind us that there is a living, breathing world outside of our little bubbles.
If you’re more of an animal person, you might consider placing an aquarium in your office.
Either way, the soothing effects of nature offer the perfect break from a screen. It’s best to look away from your screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes - and plants and animals are the perfect things to enjoy!
Did you know that humans can’t go more than 90 days without reminding themselves of the goals they set?
No wonder it’s so hard to stick to what’s important.
But don’t despair!
You can design your home office to inspire yourself and remember the things that are most important to you.
For example, you might place a cherished possession, a piece of framed art, or a special photo that motivates you on your desk.
Maybe you can paint a quote on the wall above your screen or place a picture of your family on a bookshelf to remind yourself that you’re doing it all for them.
Whatever it is, you can design your home office in a way that spurs you on to chase down your goals!
Remote work is here to stay, and our workspace matters! That is why designing a home office for productivity is so important.
The Amish Craftsman is proud to produce American made, custom built furniture that lasts a lifetime. Whether it’s office furniture, bedroom furniture, a dining room table, or a living room sofa, we build it with the greatest attention to every single detail.
And working with us is very easy:
- Talk to a designer
- Customize your furniture
- Get it built and delivered
If you are looking for custom furniture that fits your unique style, contact us today. We look forward to hearing from you!