Lockdowns now feel like they’re extending into forever and the novelty of working from home has truly overstayed its welcome. So, if you’ve not yet created your ideal working space, now may be the time.
We previously spent around a third of our lives in an office or work environment, and thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, the space between home and work has started to blend into one. Without a clear separation of your work life from your home life, things can start to take a toll on your mental health.
And this impacts homeowners as well. Many employees have also taken the lessons learnt from work-from-home protocols over the last 18 months and started to apply this to their office spaces, with companies like Google, Twitter and Microsoft now allowing for permanent work-from-home flexibilities.
This means that for homeowners, having a dedicated office space could become a serious value-adding renovation option for 2021 as this becomes the norm. In fact, research from last year found that adding a home office may add around 8 -10 per cent to the value of your property in its current market..
With all that being said, let’s explore some of the ways you may be able to renovate or decorate your way into creating your dream home office during lockdown.
Ways to create an ideal work-from-home office space:
1. Career dictates location
There’s more to setting up your home office than dumping your laptop on a free table or surface. Where you choose to put your working space matters.
Dr Olga Kombeiz and Dr Erik Dietl, experts in human resource management and organisational behaviour from Loughborough University, noted that in choosing your office space, you’ll need to first take into consideration the type of work you do.
If your work is predominantly creative, such as graphic design or copywriting, a space that evokes a sense of cosiness may best suit you, according to Kombeiz and Dietl. This could mean anything from warm lighting and candles, to adding pillows and blankets.
If your work is predominantly analytical and requires high concentration, then you may want to prioritise stillness and quiet. This means looking to set up in locations away from high-traffic areas like the kitchen, seeking out natural lighting from windows for focus and potentially investing in sound-proof headphones.
2. No space? Use dividers
It’s fair to say not every worker in Australia has the luxury of dedicating an entire room to be their new office. For younger Aussies living in apartments or sharehouses, this can be a bit of a challenge. It’s still crucial that you try and establish a way to mentally and physically separate yourself from your work life and your home life. This is where room dividers may come in handy.
Freestanding room dividers are a simple solution to creating spaces within spaces, meaning you can set up your office in the living room and still separate yourself from your housemates. There are a range of options available from online or brick-and-mortar retailers who offer delivery or click and collect, including Ikea, Bunnings or Temple and Webster.
3. Lighting is key
Lighting is one of the most easily overlooked aspects of building a dream office, especially if you’re looking to renovate. Just think back to any time you may have spent working somewhere with dodgy fluorescent lighting – it doesn’t make for a great working environment.
Great lighting without glare or shadows may help to reduce eye fatigue and headaches. It can also help improve focus and mental wellbeing, with natural light from windows helping you to produce serotonin. Consider adding or extending windows when constructing your home office or setting up your office space near a window (not in front to avoid glare).
4. Add colour
One of the best ways to transform a space and make it feel brand new is by adding a little colour. It’s no secret that our bodies react to colour in a physiological way, such as blue and green creating a calming, grounded sensation. Colors that can be found in nature have been found to even decrease our heart-rates as they appear ‘non-threatening’.
When creating your ideal home office, you’ll want to prioritise your colour scheme and even consider adding a fresh coat of colour paint to the room. If you’re not in love with the idea of painting, then look to add colour through the items you buy, such as desks, chairs, lamps, stationary and more.
5. Go green
There’s a reason your office would have had a trusty office plant back when you were working there. Adding plants to any working space has a range of benefits, including reducing stress, brightening up the space and increasing oxygen in the room to clean the air.
In fact, a 2010 study from the University of Technology in Sydney, found that by introducing plants into a workspace, there was a 37 per cent decrease in reported tension and anxiety, a 58 per cent decrease in depression or dejection, a 44 per cent decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38 per cent reduction in fatigue. With lockdowns and restrictions having untold impacts on our collective mental health, anything that can help to reduce stress, depression and fatigue can only benefit your home office.
6. Prioritise the desk space
If your employer plans on extending work-from-home flexibilities, if you’re going to spend money on anything it may be worth investing into the desk space. Whether you opt for a standing desk, a seated one, or a desk that allows for both options, take your time in choosing the best option for your needs and your back and neck will thank you in the long run.
Speaking of your back, you also want to choose a chair that is both comfortable and supportive. The right office chair can increase productivity and maximise your efficiency. This means you may want to consider investing in an option that won’t cause physical problems in the long run. Ditch stools or even your couch for good and consider splashing out on an ergonomic chair, or opting for a standard office model.
7. Personalise your space
Finally, just like you would in your actual office, consider personalising your home office. This may mean anything from putting up photos of loved ones, to buying fun or quirky stationery or bringing your favourite mug in from the kitchen. Not only will this make your home office more inviting, but it may help you to feel a little more normal like you’re back in your regular office.
Without a crystal ball it’s hard to say how long the current lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions may last. But whether you’re tired of battling it out for space in your crowded home or you’re feeling like you can’t log off from work easily, now may be the right time to consider setting up your dream home office.