How to design and organise a home office
Now that technology offers more people the capacity to sometimes (if not always) work remotely, home offices are becoming more and more common. Most of us now need a convenient place to work at home, even if only for occasional projects. Even if you don't work a 9-to-5 job out of your home office, it's where you manage your household's most important financial, medical and educational documents.
Like everything else in your house, your home office must not be only functional. It should also be aesthetically pleasing: we all need a home where we feel good and happy. And that home should also help boost our creativity or productivity.
Of course not all of us have the same needs and several factors should be considered when designing and organising an office space. For example if you’ll be working in your home office on a daily basis, creating a different feel from the rest of your rooms may help you to focus, while a room that's only part home office might look better decorated to match the rest of the house – especially if it's part of an open plan scheme.
You’ll find below a list of factors to consider when designing your home office, as well as our tips on how to organise it.
1. Choose a location that best suits your working style and needs
The first thing to think about when designing a home office is where should it be located. You need to consider your working style and the nature of your work, as well the needs of the people you live with.
If your work is solitary and requires quiet and privacy, a garden office room, garage conversion or home office in a loft conversion is probably the most appropriate.
On the other hand, if you run a business from home while keeping an eye on children, you may need your workspace near the kitchen or sitting room, maybe in an under-used dining room with a cupboard workstation.
Or, if you simply don't have the space elsewhere, a spare bedroom or corner of a bedroom or living space can do the trick nicely, if well planned and perfectly organised.
2. Ask yourself what do you need in your home office
When designing a home office ask yourself a series of questions to establish what is needed in your work area:
How much desktop space do you require?
What storage do you need?
Do you need a printer and/or scanner?
Is it important for you to have peace and quiet; to be insulated from noise and disruption within the home?
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?
Do you often need to access files?
You will then be able to start designing your home office and all the necessary storages.
3. Choose the right desk
Choosing the right desk for your home office will involve considering how much space you have available in the room. The desktop needs to be big enough to accommodate your laptop or computer, while giving you space to take notes or sort files.
A corner desk will allow you to split the work station into two: one side for the computer, the other for paperwork. Be aware that integrated storage pillars (while incredibly useful) will dictate where you can sit and may affect achieving a comfortable working position.
Some desks have handy wire channels to keep your tangle of cables neatly out of the way. If your chosen desk does not, you will need to consider the placement of the desk for a neat and safe connection to plug sockets.
4. Pick a great office chair
You should match your office chair to the rest of the room’s furniture, rather than using a more typical office chair. But make sure it’s supportive and comfortable if you’re going to be sitting for hours.
5. Design your home office with tech needs in mind to curb cable clutter
If your desk is in the middle of the room, you need to plan the safest way to run cables to a power point (with cable trunking for example). Don’t forget to use power packs for charging your home office tech, which can be positioned under the desk. You can also top up your smartphone with a dual-purpose desk lamp that allows wireless charging. There are many stylish solutions out there to reduce tech clutter and cables everywhere, but you need to give it a little though while designing your office.
To reduce the number of cables in your way, make sure to put away or get rid of any electronic equipment you use infrequently or no longer use at all. Use as many wireless devices as you can (mouse, keyboard and printer) to reduce cable clutter as well. Another option is a USB hub, which lets you plug several devices into your computer using just one USB cable.
Bind the remaining cables together with cable ties so they stay in one place, out of your way.
6. Make sure you have the right lighting, from windows and lamps
When planning the lighting for your home office, remember to allow natural light in the room to blend in with your selected products. For homeworkers who use natural materials, position your desk close to the window to benefit from as much daylight as possible. If you’re working with computers or other screens, make sure you allow for the angles of natural light through the day and avoid glare.
A purpose-designed office desk lamp is a must-have, but creating the right ambience in a home office is essential, and clever lighting is crucial to achieving it. Soften harsh light with a lampshade to set the mood and, if space is at a premium, pendant lighting is always a good way to illuminate a room without cluttering it.
You should also think carefully about your choice of window treatment. Shutters will allow you to control the amount of light coming in throughout the day. A light coloured blind that blocks glare while still allowing in natural light might be a good option too.
7. Consider a fitted home office furniture
Bespoke furniture might be the best solution to creating a workspace that maximises your available space. Built-in shelving and desks mean you can position everything exactly where you need it, and in accordance with existing features of the room (sockets, windows, doors, heaters…).
Although more expensive than off-the-shelf options, custom furniture is worth the investment if you use the space every day. It can also be the best option for a multifunctional space, such as a guest room.
8. Keep important accessories handy
Always keep your most important tools close by. Put a shelf behind or beside your desk to store your dictionary, calendar and any other books you use often. Put a file holder on your desk to hold files for current projects.
Fit your top desk drawer with a caddy, tray, or other organiser or small containers in which to hold your pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, sticky notes...
9. Banish clutter with comprehensive storage
Clutter is at its most distracting in the home office area, and you will want to make sure that the space is as tidy as possible, with all important paperwork easily accessible. Choose storage, such as shelving and smaller storage accessories that are functional and stylish and will encourage you to keep everything where it should be.
You may also need to make room for office accessories such as printers, scanners and document shredders. Think about whether you want these neatly packed away, or within easy reach on a worktop.
When you plan your fitted cupboards and units, make sure you allow enough room for displaying items that aren’t work-related. Shelving for treasured books and ornaments will all help create a space you want to be in, rather than have to be in.
As always, professional organisers can help you make the most of your space and find smart ways to store everything you need. Homefulness will always make sure that your storage options bring style to the place and match your décor. Again, your home office should make you feel empower, proud and boost your creativity and productivity.
10. Get an organisational system in place
Remember that everything you need to work should have a dedicated storage spot.
You can use a variety of tools to organise your office, including:
An inbox you can use to put bills, letters and other projects on your to-do list (always remember that this is a temporary spot for every single piece of paper!)
A file rack to hold current projects
A trash basket, recycling container or shredder
A filing cabinet
You should always interior design your filing cabinets, shelves or drawers. There are tons of accessories out there to match your exact needs (Homefulness can help you source those).
You will need to come up with a system to organise your files. It can be alphabetical, numerical, colour-coded - whatever works for you. Never forget to label every file and put it in its proper place in the filing cabinet so you won't have to go hunting for it when you really need it.
Again, always remember that every single item should have its own storage spot, with even drawers being organised. Things that will remain visible on your desk or open-shelves have to be stylish too and match your room décor. The sight of your home office should never incur any stress by itself: it should be soothing and calming, even if your work is not !