The line between work and home has been blurred for a while now. In today’s digitally connected world, it is challenging to fully unplug and to leave your work at the office. In reality, there’s not much that you can’t get done with just the phone in your pocket. And this is not inherently a bad thing. The ability to work outside of the traditional office space has created boundless opportunities for people to take advantage of.
However, the arrival of COVID-19 abruptly required everyone to maintain the productivity they achieved in the office within the setting of their own home. This can be a major disruption to your career and professional goals, but we’re here to help you nav.igate the change … and maybe even embrace it. Whether you’re new to the WFH lifestyle (that’s work-from-home for you office dwellers) or a seasoned vet busy launching America’s next great company from your garage, this article will help you design a workspace that will complement your business and maximize your productivity.
Working from home offers many benefits to entrepreneurs and small business owners, including a flexible schedule and cost savings. These benefits can sour, though, if your productivity drops at home. It is immensely important to think through the design of your at-home workspace in order to maximize its efficiency and productivity. Entrepreneurs have enough on their plate; don’t let a poorly designed workspace be another obstacle to overcome. Rather, create a well-designed workspace that can help you to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors.
When you wear many hats for your business, you need a workspace that can also provide you with the multiple surroundings and conditions needed to help you accomplish your tasks, host your clients, and house your supplies. Determine your office needs ahead of time to save money in the long term.
Draft a floorplan.
This is the first step towards creating an effective new workspace. When starting out, you should take the overall dimensions of your rooms to understand what you are working with. Play around with furniture layouts that fit within that space. Think through what purposes the room needs to provide you. What activities will be conducted here? If you are struggling to envision the different layouts and need a professional eye, many interior designers offer space planning services.
An important premise to keep in mind is to create spaces that can be used in multiple ways. Maybe your conference table serves as the desk for large projects as well as the meeting spot for when clients are in. Provide yourself a comfy chair that you can use during conference calls but also serves as a great spot to review contracts. If possible, try to create an oversized working space where you can host people and do group work that also serves as your personal space where you can plug in and crank out work. Being able to accomplish all of these activities in one setting without having to move yourself and your belongings will greatly increase your output.
Don’t overlook lighting.
There are a variety of lighting options out there that can look good and meet your needs in either a commercial or residential setting. When exploring your options, consider that your needs will differ depending on your area of work. Some lighting options to consider in your space: overhead chandelier, task lamp, floor lamp, sconces, or recessed cans in the ceiling. If adding recessed cans or a chandelier is out of your budget, instead mix in some table or floor lamps.
(Interested in design on a budget, check out my previous post here.)
If space is tight, there are options that can be mounted onto the side of a bookcase or clamped onto a table. Natural light is also an important thing to consider and take advantage of. Sunlight can brighten up your office, but might require forsaking your privacy. Adding roman shades or drapes to your windows will not only allow you the option to let in or block out natural light, but they will also add a layer of texture and coziness in your work environment.
Creating a smart storage system will keep your workspace tidy and clutter-free.
When deciding what storage options are best for your space, think through a couple of key questions.
What are your needed office supplies?
What technology does your business require?
Are there client records or folders you will need to store hard copies of?
How secure do things need to be?
Are there samples, pamphlets, or books you will need to have on hand?
The best designed at-home offices are those that are specifically tailored to your business needs. If starting from scratch, you can hire a designer to draw built-ins specific to your floor plan. You can decide if you want open shelving to showcase your items, or if you want to hide all of your storage needs behind cabinets. For example, you can hide a printer in a closet or cabinet to reduce clutter and cords. You can add bulletin boards and dry erase boards to tack up or jot down inspiration and notes.
Built-ins are the most tailored way to make the most out of your unique area, but this custom design comes with a price tag. You can easily buy various storage cabinets and shelves from Ikea, Target, or The Container Store that are still stylish but will be more cost-effective. These pieces come in multiple sizes and colors and you can stack or create modular units that can fit your specific space. These individual cabinets are a smart, long-term investment. You can easily take them with you from your current office space to a new one later down the road. The investment in built-ins will add value to your house or office if you need to sell later, but they will have to stay behind.
Make yourself comfortable.
Getting settled in a new working environment will always take time: getting the AC just right, setting up the internet, connecting devices and hardware, knowing when you can expect housemates or background noise. Overcoming these new variables requires some creativity. But sometimes your space is just limited and you can feel cramped. If so, explore some of these ideas.
Add a big mirror to one of the main walls. Mirrors will create the illusion that there is more space in the room.
Another trick to making a small space feel bigger is in the colors you choose to incorporate into the design. Picking lighter tones will make the office feel larger and more inviting to you and your clients.
In addition, keeping the trim and the walls the same color will make the space feel less choppy.
Consider attached spaces.
Another option for someone looking for some additional room or isolation from the main house would be to turn a backhouse, shed, or garage into your workplace. These offer the opportunity to “travel” to work and have some separation from the main house and others at home. This may also improve your ability to separate work from home and to “clock out” at the end of the day. Similarly, do not add a home phone line in your workspace so that you can focus as if you were at the office. You can also keep a little refrigerator full of drinks and snacks in your back office so that you don’t have to go back into the house for a break.
In closing, there are a variety of ways to get more out of your office if you put in the time early to think through what your work needs are and then come up with a plan to execute against that list of needs. Design an office space that works best for you, and you will be able to produce better work because of it.
Moria Lawlor is a North Carolinian living in Texas. She has been working in Interior Design since graduating from Wake Forest University. She enjoys spending time with her Golden Retriever, Boone, and her fiancé, Michael, in no particular order. Moria Love Interiors | IG @MoriaLoveInteriors