The importance of having a functional home office space has become more obvious over the past year and a half. Whether you’re a student who needs the space for homework and possibly remote learning, or you want to be able to work from home, a functional home office is vastly superior to plunking down at the kitchen table. Functional is one thing, but to really enjoy spending time in the space, it helps to add some style to the mix.
I’ve been working from home on a full-time basis for 13 years now, and I had a home office for part-time WFH for several years before that. I’ve had quite a bit of time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Based on my experience, I have some suggestions for anyone looking to create the perfect stylish home office for getting school work done, or for working from home.
Choose the right space
The first step in setting up a home office is to choose the space. Ideally, it is somewhere that is free of distraction so you can focus. Ultimately, this will depend on the space available in your home. It could be a nook, an unused corner of a room, a converted storage room, or a bedroom. My first home office was in the basement—which was the only space at the time that wasn’t already occupied, and was free of noise from TVs. Eventually I moved upstairs into a spare room that had the advantages of a door, and a windows for sunlight and fresh air. If you can’t get away from background noise, a set of headphones with active noise cancellation will make a huge difference.
Once you’ve picked a space, you can start making it your own. Paint it a different colour to make it stand out as a separate area, add a rug, add some wall art and decorations. You’re going to be spending a lot of time here, so make it a place where you feel comfortable and inspired.
Essential computer equipment
If you’re going to be doing schoolwork or working from home, having the right computer equipment is important.
You probably already have a laptop or Chromebook for school. A laptop is the ideal form factor for a home office as it’s compact and portable. In addition, I would recommend a computer monitor. Plug the laptop in and you have a much larger picture so you’re not squinting. With a larger screen, you can have more windows open and be more productive. To go along with this, a wireless keyboard and mouse allow you to place the laptop anywhere on a desk, while offering a much more ergonomic experience.
If there isn’t already one in your home, a wireless printer would likely be a good idea.
Choose the right furniture
The space you have for your home office will play a big part in the furniture you’re able to pick. However, plan on a desk and a good office chair. A re-purposed dining room chair is not going to cut it. Your back will thank you for choosing an ergonomic office chair.
When it comes to a desk, think about what features are important to you. Do you need lots of space to spread out? Do you want drawers for storage? What about a keyboard tray?
This is also a good time to think about extras. Storage space is a big deal for me, so I surrounded my desk with bookshelves and cabinets. I wanted a space to display collectibles (for inspiration), so I added wall-mounted shelves. My dogs and cats spend much of the day visiting me, so I squeezed a couch into my home office. And because I am frequently testing and evaluating products, I have a workbench as well.
When it comes to choosing a desk and office chair, you have many options, and this is an area where your sense of style can really play a role. I prefer natural wood. My daughter’s school workspace is modern and white. Make your furniture picks not just a functional and ergonomic choice, but also a reflection of your style.
Don’t forget lighting
People often overlook lighting in a home office. Don’t make that mistake. Lighting can set a mood, it can become part of your decor, and it’s also practical—you can’t take notes or read textbooks if you don’t have proper lighting.
Be prepared for video conferencing
Speaking of video conferencing, more people are designing their home office with videoconferencing in mind. This goes beyond a selfie ring light. You might want to consider overall lighting, as well as the view that participants will have of you (and your office space that will appear behind you).
Most laptops have integrated webcams and microphones. However, if you expect to spend a lot of time on video, you might want to consider investing in a high quality external webcam and microphone for superior results.
Tips for staying in the right frame of mind
Having a properly equipped, ergonomic, functional, and stylish home office space is the key to being able to really focus on schoolwork or working from home. Actually getting work done efficiently and effectively isn’t always as easy as it seems. I have a few suggestions that might help there.
A smart speaker is a great multi-functional device. You can stream your favourite music, but you can also use the smart speaker to give you reminders to stand up and stretch, to notify you of pending appointments, or to remind you about tests. With so many to choose from, a smart speaker can become an integral part of your office decor as well.
Some people like to have snacks and drinks in their home office. I’ve known people to keep a mini fridge beside their desk or a mini coffee maker. Personally, I prefer to keep all that stuff in the kitchen, so I then have a motivation to get up, and walk downstairs for a drink. Speaking of moving around, if you choose a laptop as as your primary computing device, you have the option of picking it up and moving outdoors for a change of scenery and fresh air.
One trick I use in my office to keep the wall decorations fresh is digital photo frames. Load them up with photos and they always provide a good view that is constantly refreshed. I’m a big music fan and I have one digital photo frame mounted on the wall that does nothing but cycle through hundreds of my favourite album covers … You could also use one of these to display inspirational messages.
Time to get started!
The nice thing about creating a stylish, functional, home office space is that you don’t have to do it all at once. There’s nothing wrong with tackling it as a project and creating the entire space from start to finish. But you also have the option of going slow, starting with a desk, chair and a laptop, and going from there as budget, time, and inspiration allow. Whichever approach you choose, you’ll find everything you need to create the perfect home office space at Best Buy.