The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up Your Home Office
Whether you are a gig worker, entrepreneur, or an employee whose job has shifted to virtual, your personal workspace is more important than ever. As remote work becomes mainstream, people are discovering they need to create a workspace at home that is both appealing and efficient.
How you design and organize your home office directly impacts your mood and ability to be productive. What can you do to set up a home office that you’ll enjoy working in each day?
Why the Set-Up of Your Physical Home Office Workspace is Important
Research and data have proven that your environment impacts your mood and performance while working. Once you understand how to set up a home office that boosts your motivation and productivity, you’ll have created an area that feels great and encourages you to get more done.
Here are things to consider when designing your physical home office workspace (according to research):
Does the space have access to natural light during the day?
10% of sick days are directly linked to a lack of nature and natural light in an office setting (Source: org)
How can you design your space for privacy and minimize distractions?
58% of high-performing workers stated they need a private workspace to minimize distractions. (Source: William Belk)
What colors do you need in the space to improve your mood and minimize stressful emotions?
Certain colors impact your mind, emotions, body, and balance. (Source: Angela Wright)
Are your furniture and computer equipment set up to increase comfort and avoid ergonomic injury?
Comfort is more important than style when it comes to furniture and computer equipment. Understanding ergonomics is vital. (Source: gov)
Do you have an efficient home organization set-up and process for maintaining it?
Being unorganized is a huge time waster. In fact, we spend 2.5 days each year searching for lost items. (Source: Pixie)
Steps to Setting Up a Home Office
Choose a Spot
When selecting the perfect spot for your home office, each individual’s situation will differ. Some will have a spare room or dedicated office space. Others will be restricted to a small area, perhaps a corner of a shared space or an underutilized area of the home. If you’re struggling with where to put a dedicated workspace and need some creative ideas, read my article on unique places to put a home office.
Before you decide on a location, go through this series of questions:
How strong is the Wi-Fi signal or Internet connection?
Is the cell phone reception acceptable? How many bars do you have?
Are there enough power outlets available to accommodate computers, printers, chargers, lights, etc.?
How is the lighting in the space? Do you have access to natural light, or can you improve the lighting?
What’s the typical noise level during working hours? How will the noise level impact your ability to focus?
What level of privacy will you need? Some careers or industries dictate a higher level of privacy needs (therapist, attorney, human resources, financial planner, etc.). You may need to consider this.
Ease of access.
Do you need to keep an eye on pets or children? Do you need to be close to the home’s front door or other areas?
If clients are coming over, do they have to walk through the home?
Be honest with yourself. Will you dread working in your office if it’s in the basement? Will it annoy you working in the same room as a messy or loud spouse? Stop and consider how the location will affect your energy level and mood.
Once you’ve decided on a spot, you can now focus on how to best design that area for optimal productivity.
Now that you have design elements in mind, let’s discuss organizing a home office for maximum productivity and ease of use. Think of your home office as a command center. This is the headquarters of getting things done.
First, what are your furniture needs? Most individuals will need, at a minimum, a desk or table, a chair, computer equipment, storage, and an area for waste (trash and recycling cans). You may also need space for a printer, shredder, and files.
Organizing Drawers & Cabinets
How you organize your file and supply storage also impacts your productivity. Here are our best tips for optimizing these spaces:
Line your drawers with a non-adhesive liner to protect the furniture from nicks and scratches and supplies from slipping and shifting around when opening and closing.
Don’t just throw everything into a drawer. Use compartments to organize your pens, paper clips, sticky notes, staples, and other items. Compartmentalizing your storage space is not only visually appealing but saves you time when you need to grab something specific.
Organize your drawers by function—stationery items in one drawer, electronic cables and equipment in another, personal items in a third.
Prioritize your top drawer by filling it with items you use the most. Please don’t turn it into a junk drawer!
Cables are not only unsightly to look at, but they can also take up quite a bit of space. Use velcro wraps, or ties, to keep them neat and out of the way.
Leverage your lateral space. If you have an empty area under your desk or table, that could be an excellent spot for additional storage.
Put the supplies you use the least in the back or hard-to-reach areas to make what you use most more accessible.
There are cabinet door organizers, baskets, and bins available that you can use to store supplies that don’t stack easily.
Organizing Paper Files
If you have paperwork that you need to file and archive at home, you’ll need a space for file cabinets.
When it comes to purchasing file cabinets, we have a few tips:
Purchase a cabinet with a full extension for easy access to all files.
Get a cabinet on wheels or casters for ease of moment.
Do you have space under your desk for additional file storage?
How many drawers will you need? A standard file cabinet can hold 2,500 pieces of paper per drawer.
Do you need traditional letter-size files or legal-sized ones?
As for organizing the documents and files themselves, we recommend investing in hanging files with tabs and using manila file folders inside those hanging files. This system works best for organization and access.
Don’t stuff the drawers! Your folders need to glide and move if you don’t want them slowing you down. For thicker files, get box bottom hanging file folders to increase storage capacity.
If you have a lot of paper or would like a more in-depth article on organizing documents, read this article or take the 5-day declutter challenge.
Nothing will drag down your productivity faster than discomfort or pain. How can you focus when your body is sending you signals that something is wrong? When you stress your body by not paying attention to your posture, environment, or repetitive movement, you could create physical health concerns such as fatigue, pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or even musculoskeletal disorders that impact your muscles, joints, and nerves.
A focus on creating an ergonomic-friendly work environment will not only increase your ability to focus and be productive it will also benefit your health, your morale, and your ability to show up to work.
What can you do to set up an ergonomic home office?
Focus on posture. Pay attention to the height of your worktable and your chair. Your head should be vertical to your neck to prevent strain. You may need to invest in a mount or riser to achieve your computer’s optimal position.
Keep arms and wrists straight. You don’t want a hinge at the wrist. Ideally, the hand, wrist, and forearm should be as even or level as possible. Adjust the height of your chair until you reach just the right spot.
Mobility. For increased mobility around the workspace, get a chair with wheels and a plastic mat if the room is carpeted.
Take breaks. Remember to take frequent breaks. Get up and walk around.
Temperature. The ideal temperature is between 71-72 degrees. Keep a space heater or basket of throw blankets nearby.
While furniture and organization are incredibly vital to your home workspace’s success, adding final touches that help boost your mood and inspire you daily is just as important. Think about the colors that you love and make you feel great. Now decorate your new workspace using paint, mirrors, artwork, posters, and photos that create that feeling for you every day.
Are you inspired by your family? Hang up photos, artwork, and memorabilia that motivate you to reach those professional goals. Perhaps it’s a vision board or a picture of a goal you are trying to achieve?
Capture your personality with decor, music, or other items that encourage positive emotions.
Aromatherapy, like candles or a diffuser, can be a great mood booster as well. Scents that stimulate energy include orange, grapefruit, peppermint, bergamot, and ginger root. (Try using orange and peppermint together – it’s a fantastic blend for mood and energy!)
Be certain not to overdo it, as your space can become cluttered quickly. Be thoughtful about each item you choose.
We hope this breakdown of setting up a home office helps you create a work environment that inspires and motivates you every day. It’s a bonus for us that these tips for organizing your home office will increase your productivity, protect your health, and help you hit your goals as well.
This is just some of the value you can get when partnering with GetReorganized.com™. If you’d like more tips, advice or suggestions on how to be more productive and organized, book a 20-minute productivity assessment.