Home Office Layout: How to Design Your Workspace
Do you have a million and one ideas for a home office, but you’re not sure where to start?
Never fear. You can put together your dream home office by following these simple steps:
- Choosing the Right Room or Space
- Choosing the room design
- Choosing what to include in the design
- Choosing your home office furniture
Ready to get started? Grab a pen and paper and start reading!
Choosing the right room or space
If you haven’t chosen the room you’re transforming into your office yet or if you’re still on the fence, then you’ll start here.
Are you fortunate enough to be able to choose between multiple rooms or spaces? Then you’ll want to consider what room offers you the most:
SpaceYou’ve probably already realised that space is an important consideration. But if you’ve only eyeballed the room so far, take a good hard look at how much space currently exists and how much space is left once you’ve filled the room with furniture and storage.
Room to move is critical for creating a home office you’ll use. You need space to sit at your desk but also to stand up and move around easily. You should be able to lean back, stretch, and pick up things that have fallen without bumping your head.
This becomes even more critical if you’re ever inviting colleagues or collaborators into your office. There’s nothing worse than having to ask them to move so you can reach the printer.
Now, no one is saying that you can’t work with a small office space. But space gives you room to grow and is more forgiving when you’re busy.
It also provides you with something even more important: privacy.
If at all possible, your office should have a door. At the very least, it should be in a part of your home that is off the beaten track.
If you thought pointless meetings, endless chatter, or regular tea breaks are a distraction, wait until every member of your family traipses through your living room 20 times a day while you’re trying to work.
You’ll be begging for your open plan corporate office in no time.
Keep in mind that it’s not only the people in your house who will distract you. If you’ve got a noisy upstairs neighbour, be wary of putting your office below their living room. Additionally, if the neighbour’s dog in the back garden barks all day, it’s good to avoid that area of the house, too.
Both of these can be avoided with a good pair of headphones, but they might make meetings and phone calls more complicated.
Natural light is best because it makes a room feel larger and promotes a sunny disposition. After all, you’re not working at home to recreate the feeling of the boxed-in cubicle you left behind.
But don’t forget about adding artificial light. Room for lamps and a good overhead light make all the difference. With this in mind, be sure to scout out plug locations to make sure you can put lamps in where you need them. If unavailable, be sure you’ve got enough power strips.
Choose a space where you have an excellent WiFi connection. Even better, choose a room your router is near or in.
Your router will struggle to travel through walls, so if it is on the first floor in the south-east corner of the house, you’re going to struggle with a connection on the second floor in the north-west corner.
This seems obvious, but there’s a good chance you’ve never tried to Skype anyone or download a large file while in the room that will become your office. Getting all set up to find your WiFi barely exists is going to be a frustration, to put it mildly!
If the only available room has a terrible connection, see about setting up the router in your office. Alternatively, a WiFi extender could very well solve a good portion of your problems.
For an added bonus, double check your mobile coverage in your new office. You’ll be on WiFi most of the time, but you want to be able to answer calls without having to jump out the window or dance through the kitchen.
L-Shaped Design, U-Shaped, and T-Shaped Designs
By now, you should have a better idea of what room you’re going to turn into your office, so it’s time to think about the kind of layout you’ll want to use.
To make the most of what you’ve got, experts recommend choosing either an L-, U-, or T-shaped home office layout.
These layouts are just what they sound like. The L-shaped layout involves creating an L shape, usually against the wall, with your furniture. The U-shape is the same – everything set up in the shape of a horseshoe. The T-shape is a T-shape.
The right layout depends on several factors.
First, it depends on what kind of work you do. If you spend the majority of your day on the computer, you’ll want to prioritise the position of your computer and keep it central to reach other necessary tools when you need to.
If you spend your day working with papers or working on projects, you’ll prioritise the position of your flat workspace in the room.
Secondly, the best layout for your office depends on the setup of the room. Windows, doors, vents, and plugs all play a role in what layout works best for you.
For example, if all your plugs are on one side of the room, an L-shaped design will probably suit you best because you won’t have cords in the middle of the room.
Determine What You’ll Include in Your Design
You can’t make a hard decision on your layout until you’ve figured out what needs to be included in your office.
But we listed layout first because you’ll want to keep it in the back of your mind as you think about what you’re putting in your office. It will help you generate a clearer picture of what your office could look like.
Here are the most common elements of a home office. Go through the areas that most apply to you, and don’t forget to account for changing needs and growth over the next few years.
Are you good to go with a MacBook Pro, or does your job require flitting between three screens?
Your layout depends on what technology is essential to your job and how often you need to access it.
Make a list of all the technology you use. Include any:
- Printing stations
You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll include a spare computer or station in the event that you find yourself co-working with a collaborator on a project.
When planning your technology needs, don’t forget about plugs! Be certain your room can handle the voltage required. Be prepared to invest in surge protectors to protect your gear and your house from the consequences of running multiple machines in one room.
Are you going to bring the occasional client round? Then, you’ll need a meeting space.
Designing a client-worthy home office is worthy of its own post, but it’s a major factor to consider when outlining the needs and the design of the office you’re building.
Briefly, there are a few things you’ll need to include to make clients comfortable and avoid scaring them off.
Comfortable seating is a must. Whether you’re meeting in your kitchen or in your office, they’ll need a good chair. Helping them feel comfortable in your office helps go a long way towards building a better relationship and easing fears they have about working with a small company.
If you are meeting in your kitchen or living room, make sure there’s no cereal on the floor and the table isn’t sticky. This is hard to avoid if you’ve got kids, but you do not want to live the nightmare of re-printing a client’s contract right as they sign it because you’ve left marmalade everywhere.
Second, make sure your environment reflects your business. Clients don’t want to see receipts flying around their accountant’s home office. They don’t want to see their graphic designer has no sense of colour coordination. And they certainly don’t want to see the person who is negotiating the acquisition of their tech company working in an office straight out of 1979.
Essentially, you’ll need to create a professional looking office that is playful enough to reflect your business but serious enough to show you mean business.
Remember, this also impacts your office layout. If you need extra furniture to meet with clients, you’ll need to reconcile where that furniture goes in your layout.
Do you work on various projects throughout the day? If you spend half the day on Illustrator and half the day working hands-on with paper or other materials, you’ll want multiple workstations.
Only you know how much space you need and where it should go, but be sure to take an inventory of the ideal number of workspaces you’ll want in a fully functional office.
It’s okay to move some workstations outside of your office and into another room of your house. In fact, if you spent a lot of time creating rough drafts, this could be a good thing because it will increase the level of privacy you have and allow you to walk away from a project to take a break.
Ultimately, you’ll need to account for the amount of space you want to use, but don’t be tempted to overpack your office either.
You can’t have enough storage in your home office.
Unlike corporate offices, you don’t have an endless number of cupboards to put things in without spilling into your living space. Plus, keeping everything to hand prevents you from having to go out into the rest of your home, which you will find, if you don’t already know, is a distraction waiting to happen.
What and how much storage you need is incredibly personal. Only you can answer this question for yourself.
Be sure to keep in mind storage solutions in line with Australian privacy and data protection laws. You’ll also want fire-proof solutions for paper materials if you’re keeping them on-site.
Choose Your Furniture
By now, you’re more sure of the room you want to use, what you’ll need for a functional home office, and approximately what type of layout you’ll use.
Are you ready for the fun part?
It’s time to think about your furniture.
You’ve probably already been dreaming about the kind of furniture you want in your home office. In fact, you’re probably wondering why something as important as an office desk is the last thing we’ve listed in this guide.
The truth is that your furniture is an integral part of your office, but it’s easy to get caught up in aesthetic appeal rather than function. And while your home office can and should be beautiful, it won’t do much good if your furniture doesn’t work for you.
It’s easy to fall in love with a desk and to plan your office around it, but you’ll find that you’re then restricted when you’re trying to add new capabilities.
Getting Started with Furniture
First, you’ll choose what furniture you need based on the office capabilities you’ve just outlined. If you’re having client meetings, you’ll need comfortable seating. If you have three monitors, you’ll need an oversized desk.
Ready to tackle the furniture question? Follow this list:
- Take a moment now to write down every piece of furniture you think you’ll need.
- Take measurements of your room.
- Determine how much space you want each piece to take up.
- Start shopping for furniture according to the dimensions available.
Don’t forget to consider comfort when you’re looking at furniture. Buying furniture that disregards the principles of ergonomics is the best way to make your eight-hour workday feel like a 12-hour day.
You now have all the bare bones required for creating a basic home office layout that works as hard as you do.
Be sure to take the time to plan each individual feature of your office. It may seem like a lot of work now, but it will save you an incredible amount of time, money, and effort in the future. And don’t forget to have fun with it! Remember, your home office should be a reflection of you and your business.