With most of the world stuck inside and required to work from home, many of us have been forced to get creative in order to balance our careers and our home lives.

Working from home for the first time presents a whole new host of challenges: kids walking in on video conferences, dogs who don’t understand you’re working, and unlimited access to the fridge.

The good news is that if you keep a few design principles in mind, working from home can actually help you feel more in control and grounded right now. Good design can make you happier, more energized, organized, and efficient, so see this as an opportunity!

You might not have all the makings of an ideal home office, but this time is about making due with what we’ve got. Olamar is built on the idea that a home is one that you love spending time in, and a home office shouldn’t be any different! Here are some simple design tips for creating a home office space that’s simple, stylish, comfortable, and functional.

Increase Focus Through Functional Home Office Design

In these unprecedented times, we could all use a little structure. So, take the time to set yourself up for success by planning. It’s worth putting in a little effort upfront to make your space as functional as possible, even if your home office setup is temporary.

At Olamar, we start every project with a questionnaire to get an idea of your project, lifestyle, and preferences. I recommend doing the same for your home office setup. Ask yourself these important questions:

  1. Do I work best in silence? With music? With ambient noise?
  2. How much surface area do I need?
  3. What else do I need around me to minimize getting up?
  4. How much time will I spend on the phone? On video calls?
  5. Am I easily distracted?

It may seem silly, but being honest now can save you a headache later. For most of us, the best spot for a home office will be a somewhat secluded, quiet corner that’s away from the kitchen and TV. For all of us, access to outlets is a must!

Keep It Simple

Now that you know what’s optimal for your home office design, it’s probably time to make some compromises.

Ideally, you already have a desk at home, or even an office with a door that closes. If you’re like most of us, however, being thrown into working remotely means vying for space with overstocked pantry items and kids’ toys.

Reminding yourself of the basics helps to ease anxiety about having less than ideal work from home conditions. You only need three things for an office: a desk, a lamp, and a chair.

When it comes to creating a home office setup on the fly, those three things become: a flat surface, lighting, and someplace to sit. Think outside of the box and repurpose furniture you already have. Use your nightstand as a desk, clear off a corner of the kitchen island, or move your dining room table against a wall. People all over the world are getting creative with their home office setups.

In order for your home office setup to be functional, you need to set some boundaries, even if they’re only figurative. It’s simple, but the most important thing you can do is to delineate a clear workspace that’s only used for work and to make the space yours. Let everyone you share

your home with know that this spot is now your office and that it’s off-limits during the workday.

Comfort is Conducive to Good Work

 One of the best parts about working from home is that you can be more comfortable – even if you’re not wearing sweatpants. But, you’re not going to get anything done if you can’t see what you’re working on or if your neck hurts from hunching over your laptop on the couch.

Bright Lights

The first thing you need in order to be comfortable in your home office is good lighting. In fact, natural light is connected to improved worker satisfaction and increased productivity. A study cited by The Harvard Business Review found that natural light improves health and wellness in workers. Plus, we could all use more fresh air and Vitamin D these days.

If there’s no window-adjacent spot for you to work from, choose a space where you can set up several lighting sources. Don’t be afraid to move lamps from other parts of your home. This is only temporary! The goal is to have overhead lighting as well as direct light on your keyboard and monitor to relieve eye strain.

Emphasize Ergonomics

The next thing you need to pay attention to is your posture as you work. You may not have an office desk chair or an actual desk, but you may actually have more control about the ergonomics of your work space at home.

The most important thing is to keep your computer above eye level. Make adjustments with cushions either below your seat or a stack of books under your computer. It may be hard to sustain this positioning the whole time you work, but strive to prioritize staying healthy.

Ergonomics experts recommend switching up positions often. If you’re on the phone, reading, or taking time to think and don’t need to be at the computer, try sitting cross-legged on the floor, kneeling, standing, or pacing.

Listen to your body. If your neck hurts, or if your back hurts, you need to adjust your at-home work space.

Step Up The Style in Your Home Office Setup

 The best part of working from home is that you’re home! You can surround yourself with things you find beautiful and inspiring. By making your home office setup one you enjoy spending time in, you make it less likely you’ll end up reaching for the remote midday.

Inspire Yourself

Unless they distract you, incorporate your favorite candles, pictures, and trinkets into your home office design. Motivate yourself with vacation photos and energizing scents. Next time you go to the grocery store to stock up safely, buy some cut flowers and place them in a vase at your workspace.

 Craft a Beautiful Backdrop

If you’re new to working from home, it can be overwhelming to suddenly spend so much time on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. Feeling confident in the background you’re presenting to your team during video calls will go a long way towards making you productive.

It may be the first time your coworkers see the inside of your home. I encourage you to skip the fake backgrounds and see this as an opportunity to show you’re a multifaceted person. Make your background should be neutral, but not devoid of character. Move your favorite piece of art and hang it behind you or hang up pictures of your kids. If you have bookshelves behind you, make sure you’re comfortable sharing your reading tastes! Take the time before a video call to see what the background looks like from your webcam.

Color and Chlorophyll
Surrounding yourself with living, breathing things will help keep you from feeling cooped up. If you don’t already have plants at home that you can move to your workspace, bring over objects that are green, blue, and brown to help you feel closer to the outdoors. After all, mother nature is the best designer.

Colors can also have an effect on our psyches. Blue is soothing and can help concentration. Brighter colors like yellow and orange help spark creativity and energy.

Past the Pandemic

A functional, comfortable, and stylish home office design will help you feel more in control of the current situation. Once you get into a routine at your new home office, it’s a good idea to apply the same principles to the rest of the house.

Now that you’re spending time at home, it’s a great time to reassess what’s working and what’s not working around the house. What’s not as functional as you thought? What part of the house brings you the most joy, and how could you replicate that elsewhere?

Don’t be afraid to move things around. Have fun with it. Times are unprecedented, so try some unexpected combinations, then move them around again if you don’t like it after a few days. You have the time! This is a great opportunity to get around to all the home projects you’ve been procrastinating like putting up art on the wall, framing your favorite photos, and repotting your plants. It’s more important than ever to make your home a place where all members of the family feel safe, comfortable and happy.