The Secret to a Home Office
The secret to a home office is having a having a comfortable chair helps when you work from home, as does a desk that’s big enough to easily fit your speakers/diary/printer/laptop.
Working from home, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways: being able to stick on a wash during a “coffee break”; saving cash-sucking incidentals like lattes and muffins; the freedom to nip out to do life admin at 11am.
Even better, there’s the glorious absence of distractions such as office crushes, meetings about meetings, water-cooler chats and other flouro-lit office phenomena. With none of it cluttering my mental head space, my productivity goes through the roof at home.
For all its fringe benefits, there are of course downsides to working from home. The workday is never really, definitively, over. If you make your own working hours, it’s not unusual to be desk bound at 9 pm.
No-one is monitoring your Facebook and Twitter activity, least of all you. Friends, firm in their conviction that you’re mostly sitting around drinking mint juleps and watching Home & Away, like to drop in unannounced (try doing that at PwC HQ and see what happens), or summon you for leisurely lunches.
The belief that working from home isn’t really working at all, not in any real sense of the word, still persists. And when the doyennes of daytime TV are your only companions, things can get lonely.
I’m often asked, “how do you do it?” – as though working from home is a task as impossible as climbing Mount Everest in runners. The very simple answer is to treat it like any other workplace: be dressed, breakfasted, exercised and at your desk by 10 am. For anyone who has had a home office for any length of time, they know that working from home in your pajamas is a myth.
Plain old ergonomics play a huge part in home office productivity, too. A couple of years ago, when I lived in a smaller apartment, my “home office” was a table wedged into the living room.
Balanced precariously under the desk were printers, ring binders and boxes of paperwork, and the siren song of daytime TV was never far away.
Long story short; it really helps to have a room of one’s own.
Much of it has to do with making the space somewhere you like to be, and it’s easy to make somewhere aesthetically pleasing with small touches such as an artwork, curtains or a rug. Access to natural light will help make you feel like less of a worker mole, too. Pictures of family, friends or that amazing holiday will also help to keep you motivated.
A comfortable chair really helps, too, as does a desk that’s big enough to easily fit your speakers/diary/printer/laptop. A noticeboard or dry erase wall is good for motivational advice or jotting down appointments. Storage is a huge plus too; there’s nothing more nerve-jangling than looking at piles of paperwork.
Filing cabinets, shelves, folders; they all help to keep a home office tidy, and make the room feel like a place of work. If a generic filing cabinet looks too work-y, spray paint it an uplifting yellow or orange, so it becomes a mood-lifter, statement piece and practical storage solution all in one.
Decluttering is the home office’s necessary evil; you must get rid of coffee cups, old newspapers, old post, etc, ruthlessly and often.
Finally, and this is probably the most important thing: the home office should be just that during working hours. Not a place for guests to crash; not a home gym; and not a place into which little ones can wander looking cute.