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How-to: Three effective home office setup ideas

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Apply our home office setup tips that help you stay as productive as ever while you work from home.

Man working in home office

More and more of us are using our homes as the base for our businesses – and many of us may be launching a new home-based business for the very first time. Perhaps you’ve been running your business for a while now and have finally decided it’s high time you created a more professional home office.

Your home office can be a perfectly productive place to work and here are some tips to help you make the perfect one – from using the latest technology and tools to making sure your furniture is ergonomic, and more.

1. How to work from home effectively 

Lighting can have a huge impact on how a room feels and be a great way to increase productivity, so start by perching in a spot that enjoys an abundance of natural light. It not only feels good, but studies support the idea that people crave it for good reason.

The Harvard Business Review reports on a survey by Future Workplace, a North American HR advisory firm, that found that access to natural light and outdoor views is the number one attribute people want in their workplace environment. A study by City University London in partnership with Philips goes deeper on the connection. Put simply, they found good lighting leads to well-being, which leads to productivity.

Sure, finding enough light to complete your daily tasks is essential, but an overly bright space can be an assault on the senses. Somewhere you can turn off the fluoros and throw open the curtains when possible is ideal. And if you need lighting, look into how you might vary it throughout the day and evening in line with your circadian rhythms.

While it’s your workspace, first and foremost it’s your home – the place where you recharge, rest and play. There’s nothing wrong with bringing things that make you comfortable into your workspace – so don’t be afraid to inject some personality and liveliness into the room. Think indoor plants, family mementos or some artwork on the walls. But try not to overdo it: too much of a lived-in vibe can be distracting when you’re trying to focus on a tricky or demanding job – it’s important to be comfortable but efficient. Aim for uncluttered and organised, yet inviting, to enhance – not detract from – your productivity.

And if space permits, consider incorporating a break-out space – a feature chair by the window, say – as a pleasant spot away from your desk where you’re still able to keep working from home, but from a different perspective for enhanced success. Incorporating just a few handy and effective work from home tips can really help your productivity soar.

Use the latest work from home accessories and technology

Working from home has never been easier thanks to some of the latest technology advances.

One part of working in a shared office that you might miss the most is that, engaging face-to-face time with your colleagues. But today’s tech has your back. You can stay connected to your team through video conferencing with a few handy work from home electronics like a webcam and microphone, enough RAM and an internet connection with enough bandwidth – but most of today’s computers and internet connections can handle it. And provided your hardware is up to scratch, keeping in touch with your coworkers will get pretty close to those in-person pow wows that are otherwise impossible when working from home. Highly rated tech in this space include Cisco WebexSkype for Business, Zoom or Google Business Hangouts.

Now, maybe more than ever before, working from home with the cloud will prove to be helpful – and sometimes even essential. The cloud’s ability to wrangle ‘living documents’ will be incredibly useful for your and your team’s productivity. Living documents let people collaborate on a single document in real time despite being in different locations – and even better, they can help make the “Is this the latest version?” question obsolete. Check out the likes of Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive for Business or Microsoft’s integrated cloud system Azure.

Working from home means digitising almost everything. While helpful things like popping over to your colleague’s desk for a chat, getting in a room for brainstorms, having impromptu catch-ups, or working through complex journeys with butcher’s paper and Sharpies won’t be possible, you can boost the success of your projects with an extra level of digital assistance. Project and task management platforms are incredible for facilitating working from home. Put simply, project management platforms do exactly what they should: they’re powerful and useful tools to oversee a project from start to finish. The best part? They’re all online so you can access them anytime and from anywhere. Check out Trello, Asana and Airtable.

Find ways to work from home comfortably

What do you need to furnish your home office and maintain your comfort?

“Somewhere to sit and a flat surface for your computer,” says Barry Hatch, the less-is-more founder of commercial office furniture vendor Innerspace Queensland. Mobile technology for work from home – the ability to pull up anywhere and create a workstation with a laptop or device of choice – has made the enormous power desk obsolete, Hatch says. The home office should reflect this new reality.

“Go the flat surface and chair option with as much flexibility as possible – it’s good to be able to move it around to take advantage of different outlooks or lighting,” he says.

Adjustable standing desks are in vogue, but working healthily by getting up for a break every hour can achieve the same effect without the price tag. And if funds are limited, Hatch’s advice is to skimp on everything but the chair. ”A good chair is one of the best ways to make working from home more comfortable. It influences your health, your ability to concentrate and allows you to work longer stints without being tired,” Hatch says. Many retailers feature a dedicated section for specialist ergonomic office chairs, so don’t just grab a dining room chair.

Looking for some bookshelves and filing cabinets for your papers? Hatch recommends “using technology and purchasing as little physical file storage as possible.” “Assess what you need to keep in the home office and rigorously store or archive the rest elsewhere. If you need to store some documents, go for a cheap-as-chips, four drawer filing cabinet away from your workspace so it’s clear for working.”

Now go and get your home office set up, think aesthetics, technology and comfort – your mind, body and business will thank you.

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