Working from home? 10 ideas for clever workspaces

Now that working (or studying) from home has become the new ‘normal’, you need a workspace that’s as efficient and lifestyle-friendly as possible. Here are our Top 10 tips for making your home office work for you. 

1. What sort of space do you need? 

The first thing to decide is how you will use your workspace. Do you need a dedicated office that you work from every day, or will a multi-functional family study/home admin centre/part-time office be more appropriate for your family, home design and lifestyle?

2. Where’s the best place for a home office? 

This depends on how you answered the first question. A dedicated office ideally needs to be separate from the rest of the house, in a spare bedroom, garage conversion, loft conversion, granny flat or even a tiny house. On the other hand, if you work part-time and your kids need somewhere to do their homework, look at fitting a workspace into the living area or kitchen or dining room. 

3. What do you need in your home office? 

Before rushing out and buying a cool designer desk, make a list of your office needs. These might include files, filing cabinets, stationery, a printer, computer (desktop or laptop), one or more computer screens, lamps, bookcases, shelves, a noticeboard, and so on. 

4. How much space should I plan for? 

Once you’ve made that list based on your office needs, you can shop around for a desk and other furniture. The desk is key to how you work and how much space you’ll need – if you do all your work on a laptop you don’t necessarily need a huge desk. Check out stores such as Ikea and Officeworks for a wide range of desks, or BoConcept for more upmarket design ideas. 

5. Power points and tech requirements 

Is your chosen space serviced by enough power points? If not, you (or an electrician) might have to install some – it’s not ideal aesthetically or for safety reasons to have leads from computers, devices, lamps and printers trailing across the room. Cable boxes keep leads organised and out of sight.

6. Flooring options 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or using an existing space, home office flooring needs to be hardwearing and easy to clean. If you want to protect wooden floors or carpeted areas, buy a specifically designed chair mat – they also cut down on the noise when you roll the chair around.

7. Get the lighting right 

Working from home means you may well spend more time in the home office than in any other room, so good lighting is essential to prevent eye strain and create a pleasant, productive ambience. Make the most of natural light sources, install blinds to prevent glare from direct sunlight and position your computer so the screen doesn’t reflect glare. Where you place overhead lighting, desk lamps and ambient lighting depends on what sort of work you do; check websites such as Online Lighting and Fat Shack Vintage for detailed advice.

8. Are you sitting comfortably? 

It’s worth spending money on a good, ergonomic desk chair to avoid neck and back strain and future visits to the physio. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, including height, size, adjustability, angle, lumbar, arm and neck support, stability and fabric. Make sure you try a few before you buy and have a look at online guides such as this one from Officeworks

9. Stylish storage 

The last thing you need in your home office is clutter. It’s distracting and particularly if your workspace is part of your home’s living area, it’s not a good look. While you need access to equipment that you use all the time, you can store reference books, files and stationery behind closed cupboard doors or in baskets on shelves. Just as good lighting helps create a productive, attractive workspace, stylish storage solutions will make the office a place you enjoy working in. 

10. Call the experts 

Several companies can design and install a home office for your specifications, just as they do kitchens, bathrooms and wardrobes – or provide flatpack units that you assemble and install yourself (not the most advisable course of action unless you’re very handy). Check out Kinsman and Freedom Kitchens – or for a truly bespoke home office when budget is not a problem, consult a specialist designer such as Spaceworks, which has an office in Sydney. 

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