While the workforce has pivoted from a standard office environment towards a variety of workspaces, the need for productivity and efficiency has remained unchanged.
Now more than ever, assembling a high-functioning environment is crucial to the success of individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups, and freelancers. In fact, according to the Kelton Global Happiness in the Workplace study, 92% of employed Americans believe their workspace affects their happiness, productivity and performance.
Design considerations should be implemented to streamline focus and eliminate distractions whenever possible. The difficulty of overcoming these hurdles in a home office is particularly challenging, though there are several emerging trends that can optimize workflow and engagement.
1. Ergonomics matter
Poor posture can contribute to both temporary discomfort as well as long-term pain that affects more than just work. Almost half (48%) of Kelton Global survey respondents claimed the type of desk chair they have is important to their well-being.
When choosing an office chair, look for a design that will provide lumbar support that is proportional to the user’s height and size. Padding, arm height, tilt, and headrests are crucial considerations that should also be explored during the selection process. Nearly one in five US workers believe having flexible desk options, such as standing desks, is important as well, according to the study. Consider incorporating adjustable-height desks, risers or standing workstations to improve the ergonomics of your home office design.
2. Optimized office layout
While outfitting a home office space or a collaborative environment, take a page from a space planner’s handbook and consider the arrangement of desks, storage options, and bookcases. Keep workspaces close to electrical outlets when possible or consider adding runners along baseboards to optimize wire and cable management.
After measuring the space and determining needs, consider the way a door may swing in or out, the placement of protruding window ledges, and any air ducts. Mitigating hassle up front will prevent headaches and hurdles once workflow becomes established.
3. Considerate office lighting
Ideally, offices should have some amount of natural light that shines during the day. Unfortunately, windowless dens, shadowy corners, and late-night overtime requires an artificial solution. A combination of task lamps and overhead lights may be implemented, utilizing lightbulbs that mimic daylight hues or warming, yellow-tinted light.
Avoid harsh fluorescents or bright white LEDs to minimize eye strain while keeping rooms at a neutral, preferred hue. Outdated halogen lights have fallen out of favor and, when possible, they should be avoided completely.
4. Eliminate distractions
All of the comforts of home are situated just beyond a home office door, creating the temptation to take one too many breaks to mill about the living space. Recreating a traditional, unencumbered office environment helps enforce the productive aspects of work-versus-play. Select furniture and décor that is a clear departure from the home, setting a distinct tone for the workday.
When it comes to productivity, an organized work area is key according to 62% of employed Americans surveyed. Keep clutter at a minimum and ensure that items left within the space provide a function related to worktime. Inject a bit of personality by investing in office supplies—such as pens, staplers, or organizational trays—that fit a personal aesthetic while remaining necessary to productivity.
Nicole Groshek is a design and brand strategist at National Business Furniture (NBF), a company that supplies small businesses and Fortune 500 businesses with office furniture and planning consultation. Nicole has worked with NBF for more than six years and helps clients find effective solutions for their workspace needs.
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