It’s no secret that working from home has surged during the pandemic.
According to a recent Gallup poll of 2,730 U.S. adults, 33% of workers are always working remotely, and 25% sometimes work remotely. The study also found two-thirds of remote workers want to continue working from home.
While many people may go back to the office, others will continue to work from home, sometimes or all the time.
If you haven’t already invested in a home office setup, now is the time to do it.
Organizing expert Eileen Roth, author of “Organizing for Dummies,” says an empty spare bedroom is usually the best choice for a home office. You can close the door when needed to block out noise and distractions, which is especially important for work calls and video conferences.
A basement is another option. Or, if extra room is a challenge, use a small corner in a large room. You might repurpose an unused closet. Paint the back closet wall or apply self-adhesive wallpaper for a stylish look.
“A ‘cloffice’ easily contains all your work items,” says Dalas Dodd, who leads the residential real estate design team at Sundae, a marketplace connecting home sellers with a large network of local investors. “It has doors that you can close when it’s time to stop thinking about work for the day. If the doors complicate things, remove them, and replace them with a curtain you can pull back when work is in session.”
Whichever space you choose, consider hanging up a “do not disturb” sign so members of your household know to be quiet while you’re working.
Before you get started, make a list of what you need, and measure the space. That will ensure everything you buy will fit. There are two critical pieces of furniture to consider: desks and chairs.
Roth suggests a desk that fits your computer, monitor and printer so everything you need is within reach.
If you don’t want to sit all day, get a standing desk.
“Whether you buy a free-standing desk that moves up and down or you invest in a Varidesk that can be added as a layer on top of your desk,” says Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital home management solution, “both give you the option to stand periodically rather than sitting all day, which will stretch out your muscles and ligaments and get you a bit more active.”
Next, choose a chair that’s comfortable and good for your body.
“With chairs, comfort reigns over style and design,” says Tonya Dybdahl, space designer with National Business Furniture.
She says a well-designed ergonomic office chair is the best home office splurge. The right chair can improve your posture and increase your comfort. Look at all the specifications, including seat depth, arm adjustments, adjustable headrests and back support.
Next, review chair tilt. Dybdahl says standard tilt keeps the seat and back at a 45-degree angle, while knee tilt has a tilt that starts at the front of the chair. Synchro tilt is the “king of comfort,” providing a 2-to-1 ratio that keeps your feet comfortably on the floor.
You’ll need great lighting for our home office, especially if you’ll be doing video conferences. Investing in lighting can be fairly affordable. Ring lights, for example, start under $50 and offer different color temperatures and brightness. These setups are typically portable and offer a professional look without a large expense.
Give your home office personality by adding simple decorations.
“Fill the space with warm personal touches that remind you of that feeling of cozy,” says Dybdahl. “Maybe it is a colorful accent pillow or throw blanket or images of your favorite trip, family or friends.”
Roth says medical, legal or real estate professionals may need extra bookcases for reference books. If you don’t want a bookcase, store some books on a credenza or a desk with a hutch for storage.
Don’t worry about buying everything all at once. Instead, pace yourself and add pieces to your home office as you go.
“Going too far too fast can be costly,” says Dybdahl. “It’s fine to just start with the essentials.”