FREE Home Office Design Checklist for Companies and Their Employees
Whether you work for a big company or on a small team, everyone has had to rethink work in 2020. Logistics, travel, or even just figuring out ways for employees and teams to carve out space to get meaningful work done at home has turned into a full-time job.
Maybe you had hoped to be back in the office by the new year, or maybe you’ve been thriving in the new mode of working from home. Either way, many of us are working from home, and the new office is an inconsistent concept, as our home landscapes differ widely. Maybe you have a separate room for your office, or maybe it’s the dining room table you share as a desk with your roommates. Or maybe your kids are doing virtual school next to you, sharing your office space. The range of home office experiences is vast, and full of similarly unique obstacles.
That said, we wanted to create a checklist for you or your employees home office, so everyone has options to elevate their space in 2021.
In the beginning of the pandemic, things were uncertain, and many of us approached our home workspaces as short-term solutions. We didn’t create our spaces with intention, we created them out of sudden necessity. And I’m willing to bet most of us didn’t make many changes.
However, we believe that making your office space work for you and your team will revolutionize the way you work. Being deliberate with workplace design helps you stay focused, calm, and inspired while you work, which means that you’re producing at a higher quality.
Rethinking your home office design or helping your employees and team invest in a space that feels good will also help in rebuilding that all important work-life boundary that seems to have all but dissolved.
Home Office Design Checklist
Separate Your Workspace
This is a crucial step for home office design. If your workspace isn’t separate from the rest of your living space, problems arise. You get easily distracted, start doing chores or other tasks when you should be working, or are tempted to get back into bed mid-morning. And when the work day is over, you never really leave work. It’s always right there, and you can keep working well into the night. Besides being crucial for mental health and self-care, keeping work contained is good for your productivity. When you integrate your tasks too deeply into everyday home life, you get less done, and the work day takes much more energy.
If you have an entire room for your home office, congrats! This step is easily within your reach. Simply close the door to keep the outside world out, and when you are done working, you can close the door behind you.
If your workspace is more limited, don’t worry, you still have plenty of options. Consider a room divider, to create a separate spatial sphere for work and home. A simple wall tapestry, hung from the ceiling can create a division of space. Even rearranging existing furniture like book shelves can make a separate work nook.
But what if that’s not going to work either? If your desk is the dining room table, or you share the workspace with others, consider investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones or earbuds. Even this small step can make a big difference in productivity and focus. And it will help you keep those work conference calls a little calmer!
Upgrade Your Lighting
This step on the checklist is surprisingly effective at changing any home office experience. The majority of Chicago homes are old, and although this means characteristic Chicago charm, it also leads to less than ideal lighting. Lighting which is fine for everyday life doesn’t cut it when it comes to work. You need better lighting!
You know your situation best, so maybe this means a nice standing lamp, or rearranging your desk to be closer to the window. It can also mean upgrading your light bulbs. A brighter LED bulb (not glaringly bright though!) can make a world of difference. We recommend between 2000-6000 Lumens for a good work lightbulb. Consider a dimmable bulb which gives you more control over lighting as the natural light changes over the course of a day.
Go Green With Your Home Office Design and Stock Up On Foliage
Nothing creates a brighter and happier space as quickly as adding plants. Plants increase oxygen flow and humidity, which means a less dry winter, with less sore throats and colds. They increase productivity and focus, while cutting down on stress and fatigue. They even increase privacy and reduce noise levels, which is fantastic for workspaces. Yeah, plants really do all that!
Consider getting a larger leafy plant which will create a calm, green background for your workspace, A fern or palm would be great for this purpose. Monsteras are an absolute dream for an office. Smaller flowering plants are beautiful and fun to watch as they cycle through flowers. Succulents are great for someone who is a plant beginner, as they require minimal watering and care.
As a final plus, taking care of a plant and watching it grow and flourish encourages feelings of accomplishment and happiness. Caring for your office plants will make your space somewhere that you want to be, and have ownership of. It really makes your space feel like yours.
Get A Physical Tear-Off Planner
You might say, hey, I use Google Calendar/my computer’s calendar program/Trello/whatever else, I don’t need a physical planner! But I’d argue that a physical tear-off weekly calendar is a great addition to your home office. It doesn’t replace any of the other ways that you keep track of deadlines or dates, but it’s a great way to visualize the ebb and flow of each week, and get a sense of what’s coming up.
Time is a tricky thing these days, especially when working from home. Keeping track of what day it is is harder and harder! The tear-off calendar is a way to ground yourself and stay centered. The act of physically writing things down is much more likely to make you remember it than simply typing. The visual reminder of your planner ensures you don’t forget anything important, and that you cut down on your stress levels. Finally, the act of crossing out tasks that you complete is cathartic and stress-relieving.
Plus, there’s some cute planners out there!
Create Space For Movement
A lot of what’s tough about working from home is the sedentary nature of it. You no longer commute to work, and lose the activity which characterized office life. If you have a meeting, you simply open Zoom, rather than walking to a meeting room. When it’s lunch time you amble down the hall to your kitchen rather than walking to your favorite lunch spot. You lose out on the motion, the ability to get up and go somewhere else, and on doing different things each workday.
When working from home, bad posture, lack of circulation, and eye strain are each the name of the game. If you can, a great option for increasing movement in your home office is getting a standing desk attachment. It is compatible with most desks, and creates a fold-up desk so you can stand and work. If you spend only part of the work day sitting, and other portions standing, you are less likely to experience body aches and pains, fatigue, and neck strain.
If a standing desk doesn’t work for you, consider setting a timer at certain points during the day to go on a short walk or do 15 minutes of yoga or stretching. This breaks up the chunks of time that you spend sitting in the same position and actually increases energy.
Another good idea is to spend your lunch break sitting in your backyard or in a local park. Make your lunch ahead of time, and spend the precious minutes of your break getting active, and enjoying a change of scenery.
The Most Important Home Office Design Tip: Hang Up Art–Seriously
Our final recommendation is simple. Hang up art in your home office. It changes everything. Art increases mood, productivity, and creative inspiration in your work. It refreshes you and your space, and makes the home office an attractive place that you want to be in, Art on the walls provokes conversation and bonds, even if it is only through Zoom.
Art is also a way to live your values, in a time where it feels hard to control or make cogent choices about anything. You can choose to support independent artists, buy local, and invest in causes that you care about. You can feel good about your artwork, and feeling good about what’s in your space is so important to what you do in that space. Artists are struggling during Covid-19, and losing out on income. If you choose to buy art for your home office, you can feel as though you are making a positive impact in local artists’ lives. Check out some of our partner artists’ work and make use of some amazing exclusive discount codes for their webstores.
There’s another great option awaiting you when considering art and home office design. If you are a manager or leader of your team, IPMM has an exciting new way that you can give back to your employees and provide beautiful artwork for their home offices, elevating their workflow in the process. (And if you aren’t your team’s leader, pass this on to them and share our new program angle!)
We’ve pivoted our art rentals service to allow folks to bring home their rented art prints and hang them in their home offices. Many of our clients have transitioned entirely to remote work, and we wanted to make sure that our art rental service could follow them. Show your team that you’re grateful for their flexibility, and help them make their home office super functional.
(NOTE: Some links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which allow us to earn from qualifying purchases.)
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