How well set up is your home office?

Do you have a dedicated inviting space, or are you cranking up your laptop wherever you can?

Whilst working from home gives you a lot of freedom, it doesn’t mean you should lose sight of some of the productive things that working in an office provided …

A desk at the proper height; comfortable adjustable chair; plenty of light; storage space; etc.

A significant part of being productive is the space in which you’re working. If you’re shoved in the corner of a room that’s a constant mess, you’re unlikely to be working to your optimum.

There are so many ways to create a great home office environment to fit most budgets and space limitations, that if you’re serious about being a successful VA, you’ll want to get yours sorted out as soon as possible.

Starting with the two main types of offices available:

1. Sit-down office

The first thing to consider is your desk. Experts recommend working on a large desk, if possible.

This gives you plenty of space to spread out, something that’s particularly helpful when working on visual tasks.

It also means you can setup extra equipment, such as a second monitor, which is great for development, design and accounting tasks.

Our only caveat … keep it minimal. Just because you have a big desk, don’t go cluttering it up, that won’t help the productivity levels at all!

Next up is your chair.

Two options are:

  1. Quality office chair
  2. Ball chair

Let’s start with the latter …

Ball chairs have seen a bit of a craze in the last few years – in fact, I succumbed and used one for a couple of years. I fell for the healthy notion. And yes, you do technically burn more calories than by sitting in a regular chair, but the number is so insignificant that it shouldn’t really play a part in your decision-making process.

Comfort and productivity should.

For me, I actually liked my ball chair in the early days – I found it pretty comfortable and liked the fact I concentrated on my posture when working.

But after a few months, I noticed I’d started slouching. The novelty had worn off. I wasn’t concentrating on my posture at all, just on my work.

Then after a few more months I developed a dull and constant backache. So I switched.

Of course I realise you’re not me!

So all I’d say if you want to go down the ball chair route – give it a try, but pay attention to your posture. Once you notice you’re not holding your core anymore, it may be time to move on.

Which leaves us with the quality office chair.

Head out to your local office supply or department store and try a few before you buy. Whilst there are some great CEO-style leather chairs, this may not be the most productive for you.

Key considerations:

  • Lumbar support
  • Height adjustable
  • Ergonomics
  • Material

And of course, your budget!

2. Stand-up office

Now, if you are keen on a healthier work environment, you may want to consider a stand-up desk … something I’m very interested to try out for my next office!

The benefits include having greater energy, being more alert and focused, improved posture and core strength.

However, unfortunately they do tend to come with a higher price tag, but there are budget options too – just avoid the electronic retractable desks.

Once your desk-type is decided, it’s time to consider the space itself. A number of factors can help increase productivity, some of which you may not even be aware of, such as:

1. Lighting

Having adequate lighting is essential. Too light and you’ll be continually squinting at your screen. Too dark and you’ll struggle to stay awake!

Ideally your office should have natural light – a fundamental factor in general well-being and increased productivity.

However, this isn’t always possible.

If that’s true for you, invest in some full-spectrum light bulbs which are the best non-natural light alternative.

And finally, throw in a desk lamp to the mix too. This is particularly important if you have video calls with your clients. If the room you’re in is bright, you may appear quite dark on screen. By adding a simple desk light, you overcome this issue.

2. Environment

The colour your office is, how far your vision can extend, and the connection with nature, all play a part in office productivity.

Let’s start with colour …

Unpainted wood is thought to be calming. As are blue, green and violet colours, with the dominant one being green. As with wood, it’s evokes feelings of nature and freshness.

White, ivory and light grey are also considered relaxing colours.

Yellow evokes vitality. But isn’t considered good as a dominant office colour. Instead combine it with the more neutral colours and get the best of both worlds.

Now on to vision. Ideally if your vision can extend beyond the four walls of your office, you’re on to a winner.

If not, get up and head outside for 10 minutes to allow your eyes to rest. Staring at a computer screen all day is not conducive to a productive one.

The 20-20-20 rule is good to remember here – every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds.

And finally, nature.

If you’re lucky enough to have a home office that looks out upon a garden, trees, water or anything equally natural, great!

If not, bring the nature to you.

Add some plants to your room. Just remember to water them – having dead plants in the office is definitely not a productivity enhancer!

3. Equipment

The final consideration to any productive home office is your equipment.

  • Computer – desktop or laptop?
  • Monitors – more than one?
  • Photocopier / Scanner / Fax?

Only you can decide.

But the key is to think about what you really need.

If you rarely do copying or scanning, do you really want a machine cluttering up your space? Probably not.

And remember to be as wireless as possible. Excess leads laying around really don’t do productivity levels any good at all.

And that’s it. A productive home office consists of:

  1. Desk – regular, standing or adjustable
  2. Chair – ergonomics
  3. Lighting – as natural as possible
  4. Environment – calming and uncluttered
  5. Equipment – up-to-date essentials

How well is yours set up?

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