How to set up your home office

For many freelancers, working from home has been a reality for years. However, for some, the experience is now necessary due to the request from the government to stay home if possible. It is tempting to set up in the corner of the living room or organise your work on the kitchen table. However, if you speak to any seasoned freelancer, they will tell you that defining your workspace as something different from your life is essential.

How to set up your home office

With this in mind, here Laura McLoughlin in collaboration with Paint Spray Tools brings you a guide on how to set up your home office and how you can make your workspace at home unique and perfectly equipped for your continued success. 

A space of your own

The first tip will be essential to the effectiveness of your home office space. You must have a place away from the bustle of family life. It is not just a matter of territory and finding quiet, but also a means of shutting the door on work at the end of the day.

Identifying the right place will be a challenge, as you want an underused room but also one that has enough space for you to be comfortable. A spare bedroom is a good choice, so is the attic if it is a converted area and maybe a garage or shed if it comes with heating.

What are the essentials?

When beginning your design, you should start with those things you definitely need to work effectively. There are things you will desire – like a stunning antique desk – and then there are those things that will work better – like a functional desk with plenty of storage. You need to find that delicate balance between practical and functional.

When choosing the necessary furniture, people often under-estimate the amount of storage they need. A cluttered workspace will result in a cluttered mind, so adequate storage is essential. You might want to consider a tall shelving unit and some drawer space. You should also consider your filing system and maybe a whiteboard and desk organiser of some kind.

Add in touches of inspiration

Don’t get too carried away with the practical and forget the need for some inspiration. Start by collecting together images of places where you would love to work and creating a mood board. This will feel a little like cutting and sticking, but it is more vital to the process than this. By daydreaming, you will be encouraging your creativity.

Some people choose to make their office look as little like a typical work environment as possible. However, others want the professional setting to put them in the right mindset. The good news is that the choice is yours, and the point here is that you should personalise. You need to make use of the room in a way that will make you more successful.

Use room dividers

So far, we have assumed that you have some spare unused space in your home. This might be a luxury for only a handful of people. It might make it more challenging to work from home without this door to close, but it is certainly not impossible. Take your larger space and section it off with a wooden fold away room divider. Some lovely three panelled dividers will create a separate area. Equally, you could hang a curtain or buy a screen, whatever works well. 

Remember the balance between function and beauty – it has to work to keep a separate space but also be something you are happy to look at each day.

Move your work outdoors

Adapting a garage or shed might sound like a downgrade, but they can offer a wonderful sense of separation. Not only can you walk away from work at the end of the day, but you will also suffer fewer distractions.

Yet, this is not why we would suggest an office in a shed. We believe that getting out amongst nature is the best way to keep freelancer stresses and strains in perspective. The environment could act as inspiration in your area of specialism, especially if your work is craft-based. However, it offers an opportunity to spend time grounding yourself and taking a minute to be more mindful.

Even if you don’t turn your shed to chic, you should attempt to give yourself a view of the outside or a sense of green inside. It might be that you do this with the simple addition of a herb garden or a bonsai tree. However, your happiness levels will be much higher if you can have a view of your garden or the countryside beyond if this is available. If not, why not get yourself a piece of wall art that depicts nature.

Choose your colour wisely

If you choose a dark colour for your office, you could be causing yourself problems. It will impact your mood and mess with your alertness levels. If you choose blues, you will soothe yourself, which could be essential if there is a high-stress element to your role. Yet, if you are looking to be inspired and feel a spark of creative energy, you should go for much brighter colours.

More important than the hue is the amount of light in the room. You want to increase your productivity levels, and a light and airy room will achieve this better than a shaded place.

Health and safety matters at home too

You need the right desk, the right chair, and an area where you can stand at times too. Your body is not equipped to stay slumped in an office chair for hours after hours. Therefore, give yourself a different space in your home office where you can take up a different position. You should also seriously consider investing in ergonomic equipment. If you don’t take care of your posture, you could be building up health issues for the future that could reduce your productivity.

And, finally

This office area is your space. You need to find a way to personalise your area, as you need to enjoy being in the room. You are going to be spending a lot of time there, so it needs to reflect your character and put you at ease.

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