Whether they’re enjoying the freelance lifestyle or have an understanding and flexible employer, more and more people are working from home these days — at least occasionally.
So how do you set up a home office that ensures both comfort and efficiency? Sara James, director of Perth Style Company, has some tips to help you make the most of the available space — especially if you live in an apartment. Here are her eight top tips.
One of the most obvious and important considerations when working from home is the location within the home. How much space will you need? What is the temperature like in that part of the home at various times of the day? Do you need to be able to see out a window? Do you need to be able to close a door to shut out distractions?
Most people who use a home office don’t meet clients in their home. Many modern apartment developments come with fantastic facilities to make life easier when it’s necessary. Some have meeting or boardroom facilities you can use. Others have complete business centres, with workstations you can use if you need to get away from your apartment for a while.
Not everyone has an entire spare room to dedicate to an office space. James said using tucked-away corners was a fantastic way to maximise the use of space within a property. But she urged caution.
‘It really depends on your usage of the study space’, she said.
‘If you’re just using the space as a quiet spot where you can surf the web or email a friend, then a tucked-away corner is great. But if you were looking to work from home, then perhaps a space with more room, such as a study nook or a study, would be more suitable’.
James said the ability to communicate will also determine the location of a home office — as accessibility to phone lines and internet connections (or Wi-Fi signal) will affect how you work.
‘Working from home means you’ll still need to be efficient with your work’, she said.
‘This means you’ll need to be accessible via phone or email to your clients whilst delivering your projects in a timely manner. Make sure your designated office space will allow this’.
‘As you finish projects and accumulate resources, you’ll have to find someplace to keep all of your work documents’, James said.
‘Filing cabinets, bookshelves and drawers are always a great place to start and will encourage you to keep an electronic and hard copy of your projects just in case your computer dies one day’!
James also encourages people establishing home offices to remember that just as important as your ability to connect is your ability to disconnect. This isn’t just your workspace, it’s your home.
‘Working from home has many benefits but it also means you’ll have your workload staring you in the face 24/7, so it is important to disconnect and enjoy your downtime’, she said.
‘Figure out a routine that works for you and, after settling into a schedule, you’ll feel much happier and more productive’.
For some people, being able to close a door on their office will be the best way to ensure they leave those invoices and emails behind after 5pm.
James said it is always important to ensure lighting is properly matched to the type of room and its purpose.
‘Natural sunlight is an amazing way of adding light, life and ambience into a study space, helping to stimulate the brain and, not to mention, will help save you some money on your electricity bill’, she said.
‘Correct lighting can emphasize your chosen décor — paint colours, floors and decorative accessories’.
The positioning of the lighting in the room is also key.
‘It is important to use “task lighting” — which is adequate, bright lighting intended for working purposes, such as down lights or standing and table lamps’, James said.
What kind of furniture you use in your home office will depend largely on the purpose of the space. James said those planning to work an eight-hour day out of their home should invest in quality, purpose-built furniture, such as a desk with sufficient workspace and an office chair which will provide back and neck support.
‘If you’re going to be spending as much time in your home office as you do everywhere else in your home, then don’t treat your office space as second-class accommodation, give it the attention and importance it deserves’, she said.
‘If you’re more relaxed about the purpose, then you can afford to let style take the front seat and purchase a funky table and chair which will look amazing and spark your creativity’.
‘It is all about the ambience’! James said.
‘Make a space where you can feel productive, stimulated and happy.
‘Make your workspace your own by decorating with personalised knick-knacks such as framed photos of friends and family, or some scented candles.
‘Ensure you have an abundance of natural lighting, storage and workspace and you will feel more comfortable and relaxed in your space, motivating you to spend more time there’.
If you’re looking for an apartment in a fabulous location close to the city — that would be ideal for working from home — check out Finbar’s Aire development in West Perth.