Working from home didn’t start with the arrival of COVID-19, but the pandemic certainly did propel the trend forward. Everybody who could start working from home, did – and many have little or no intention to return to their former offices.
If you’re among that crowd, you may have found your home office to be a trifle out of date now that you’re using it every day. Whether you’re working out of a recently converted spare room or your office just isn’t meeting your needs these days, an update can do you (and your work experience) a ton of good.
If you’re ready to upgrade your home office and enhance its vibe, we’ve got a list of tips and tricks you can use:
1. Ready, Set: Repaint!
Sometimes the best way to hit “reset” on a space is just to break out the paint rollers, the tape and the tarps and put up a new coat of paint. If your home office hasn’t been painted since the 2010s (or earlier), it’s probably time to find a new hue.
“Evergreen Fog,” which was chosen as the 2022 Color of the Year by Sherwin-Williams is a pleasant, grounded neutral that works well with most types of furniture – but feel free to pick any color that resonates with your work. Experts suggest reds for high-energy positions, blues if you need to focus and stay calm, and purples or yellows if you’re a creative type.
2. Clear Out All the Unneeded Stuff
Does your home office feel cluttered and tight? Unless you’re working amid “creative chaos” and like it, it’s time to clear everything out of the room that you don’t want or need.
Some people work best in a spartan atmosphere where everything has a place and a purpose, while others work best in an office that has more of a casual “den-like” atmosphere. Either is fine, but you need to make sure that your office isn’t becoming the default “extra storage space” for the whole house.
Get rid of clutter, box up any old files that you haven’t touched in more than a year, banish sports equipment, toys and guest pillows to the appropriate closets or the attic, and make it clear that your workspace is just for work.
3. Add More Light
Natural light can help you get that all-important Vitamin D and boost your productivity and mood, so take a good, hard look at the window treatments in your office. If they’re the heavy drapes of a bygone era, pull them down and put up new ones. Sheers and blinds can help you get more light into the room when you need it (and still keep out the light when you don’t).
If you do a lot of detailed work, however, it may be time to invest in some professional lighting installation. Recessed lighting around your desk that you can adjust according to your needs can help avoid eye strain and fatigue when you’re working long hours.
4. Add or Update Your Power Sources
Take a good look around your office. Do you see any cables and cords snarling around the floor? Are you “making do” with power strips and surge protectors to keep all your electronics functional and charged?
If so, it’s definitely time for some high-quality electrical upgrades. Just a decade or so ago, people were adding extra phone jacks to home offices to accommodate the need for dial-up computers and wall phones – but that’s all changed. Today, you need more outlets, and maybe some built-in USB chargers to make your work easier.
5. Rethink Your Furniture
A lot of home offices are furnished over time with functional pieces that weren’t bought with aesthetics in mind. That’s fine if you’re only sitting down to work there once in a while – but not so great if you’re practically living in that room today.
While it may be a little more expensive than some of the other updates, you may need to rethink your office furnishings and replace most (or all) of them. Is that chair and desk combo really comfortable, or are you feeling the back and neck strain after a long day? Do you need a recliner in your office for when your legs are bothering you? Do you have enough shelving space? Is it time to invest in filing cabinets?
Take some time and try to imagine your ideal office space, then look for furnishings that will help you achieve that goal. You’ll be happier in a space that’s comfortable – and that’s likely to translate to more productive workdays.
6. Add Some Art and Decor
Even if you tend to prefer a fairly plain look in your office, you should still invest in a few purely decorative items – if only to give you somewhere to rest your eyes when you’re taking a break.
A piece of art behind your desk and a well-matched rug under your feet can keep an office from feeling cold and impersonal. Small plants, also, are a good investment – especially since green things can help boost your mood and make you feel more connected to the natural world (even when you’re stuck inside).
Naturally, you don’t have to limit yourself to just these ideas. If you have a particular passion – whether it’s dolphins or daisies – it’s perfectly okay to make those part of your office decor.
With home offices, the important thing to remember is that function has to outweigh comfort, but comfort shouldn’t be overlooked. This is your space, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine!