COVID-19 has forced 1.5 billion people to stay home and follow social distancing measures. Many people are now working from home on a daily basis and finding the transition from in-office to their home office a little disorienting. An effective way to make the transition without losing productivity is to make you home office more comfortable.
Beyond the difficulties of remote work logistics, creating the right environment to be focused and relaxed can be challenging. Factors like colors, plants, noise, and lighting have all been demonstrated to affect concentration, and have to be taken into consideration when designing a new work space.
That said, there are simple tricks to help. Here are five small touches to make you feel more comfortable in your home office:
1. Bring a little outdoors indoors
House plants add a natural touch to any home office. Not only are they very fashionable, they also have a positive effect on your health – plants oxygenate the air, making it cleaner to breathe and improving your concentration, as well as attention span.
Moreover, a little greenery aids the move from outside to inside, helping reduce feelings of claustrophobia during quarantine. Being in one room for eight hours a day can quickly take a toll, so plants integrate a dash of the wilderness into your office. They equally represent growth, which is a great reminder that lock down can actually be an opportunity to learn and expand your skills. An added bonus is that watering plants can be a welcome break throughout your work day.
When choosing plants, try to match them to your environment. Larger, statement plants look good under window frames or in spacious corners, while smaller, intricate plants can brighten your desk without being distracting. If you have a bookcase or shelves, plants can break up rows of items, or if you have bare walls, hang your plants for a bohemian feel.
2. Embrace blue
Many studies show that blue in interior design has a particularly calming effect on people. Splashes of blue around your home office can lower feelings of stress without being an overarching theme in your office.
Buy, or paint, things like stationery, cushions, speakers, storage boxes, and other trinkets, various shades of blue and dot them around your space. Don’t be scared to get creative. Clashing patterns and textures make your office feel more dynamic.
If you’re not sure how to work blue into your existing aesthetic, it pairs nicely with neutral colors like black, brown, white or gray, to make dull rooms look more modern and cozy. Alternatively, blue with energetic colors like red, yellow or coral can bring a bolder vibe to your home office and inspire you to get to work.
3. Use two monitors
Your physical wellbeing is just as important as your mental comfort. Posture plays a huge role in how you feel and how you apply yourself to tasks. Remember, you can’t think properly if you’re in pain.
A second desktop monitor makes multitasking much easier, especially for roles that require coding, designing, writing, and researching. Having two screens means you can compare, collaborate, and reference projects without having to flick through an array of open programs and tabs. It additionally helps how you position your body when working, so long as you follow basic setup rules.
Make sure the monitors are at a height where, when you look at them, your neck is straight and the top of each screen is parallel to your eye line. They should also be roughly arm’s length away from your body, and the inner edges of each screen touching and directly opposite your nose. Lastly, use a swivel chair to ensure you turn to fully face one monitor when using it – do not twist your neck.
4. Keep it simple
Sometimes, simplicity is best. If you don’t have much time to redecorate or you’ve got limited resources, a little natural light, a view, and functional furniture does the trick.
A desk and a chair by the window is very Scandanavian, keeping your aesthetic sleek and straightforward. Going minimalist is another option – wood items (repurposing old crates is very popular right now) and neutral palettes can give the illusion of your home office being bigger. Meanwhile, antique pieces can add a classic traditional flair that contrasts with your technology. For example, an old jewelry box can be a stationery holder, wood chunks can be used as coasters, and a woven basket can be your paper recycling tray.
If you have unavoidable clutter in your home office, there are some clever ways to hide it. Curtains or flowing materials can cover your overcrowded sections while still looking stylish; or shelves and open-lid boxes can maintain organization and keep everything you need readily accessible. By displaying some of the materials that you use on a daily basis, you also clearly label the room as your place of work.
5. Get personal
The perk of having a home office is that you have the freedom to decorate as you please, according to your tastes. Gone are the days of having to endure off-putting office designs. Instead, seize the chance to customize your space and use your inner artistic talent.
Photos of your family, friends, pets or idol can be framed and hung or put on your desk – just be cautious not to go overboard with these, a maximum of three is good. Play around with art too, sketches, paintings or illustrations can transform your office from a shabby storage room into a chic gallery. In fact, one survey found that 83 percent of respondents believed artwork was important to their work environment.
If you’re more of a wordsmith than a visualist, print out quotes or lines from books or poems to frame. These can encourage imaginative thought and help motivate you throughout the day.
Creating a space designated to work is important to have a real separation between your professional and personal life. Not to mention, spending a little time on crafting a comfortable home office can lead to better time management, improved fixation on tasks, and general good organization.
These small touches go a long way toward making your home office more comfortable. Considering remote work could be the new norm after the pandemic subsides, it’s a worthwhile, long-term investment.