The home office has many faces. From the luxury home office with an executive desk and French doors to the humble laptop on kitchen counter arrangement, most people have need of a dedicated computer work space. Several items are necessary for every office to function, but a few extras can make it more efficient and more comfortable. In three basic steps, your basic workplace can be refreshed and upgraded. First identify the use of the office, then determine what items will increase functionality and finally sit down and get to work.
Why do you need a home office? Do you work remotely all the time, or just sometimes? Do you run a business from your home? Are you an author? Do you simply want a quiet space to browse the internet or organize recipes?
At the simplest end of the spectrum, someone that just wants to browse the internet has the same basic needs as someone that works from home regularly.
- A flat surface and chair
- A computer or laptop
- Internet access
For many, a couch and coffee table will work in a pinch. Another popular setup is a small desk in the corner of the dining room. or a stool pulled up to the kitchen counter. These setups function, but will not work well for someone that needs to do a considerable amount of computer work. If you find it necessary to sit at a desk for four or more hours a day, these arrangements will injure the back and reduce efficiency.
Most homes have corners of unused space that can be dedicated to a home office setup. Stephen King famously wrote his first published novel, Carrie, at a little desk in the laundry room. Look around your living space, and see where even a small, permanent desk and chair can be placed. Desks can be as small as 24″ x 20″ and a small office chair without arms can be 21″ across, and desk floor mats can be as small as 36″ x 36″. Measure the proposed space before purchasing furniture.
Although lounging on the couch and balancing a laptop on your lap while bingeing your favorite shows sounds appealing, it will reduce the home office functionality considerable. The likelihood of actually completing assignments is very low. There are four keys to a proper office arrangement. A comfortable chair, a desk floor mat, a desk and proper lighting.
A proper office chair is a necessity. It needs to have a comfortable, adjustable height seat and an ergonomically shaped back. If you are seated well, you will sit longer and accomplish more. Sit in several chair styles before choosing. Some of the simpler designs are easier on the sitting bones than the fancy, leather, executive chairs. A chair without arms can be pushed in and under a desk to save room.
Most office chairs have wheels, which will stick in carpet or damage hard floors, unless you use a desk floor mat. There are two basic types of desk floor mats. One for carpet with teeth or cleats that hold it in place, and one for hard floors which is smooth on the bottom. It is wise, especially for a carpeted area or for a desktop computer, to invest in an anti-static desk floor mat. This is an often overlooked, but very important piece of office equipment!
When considering a desk, consider how you will use it. The height should be comfortable for typing. Some styles have drawers or filing cabinets attached. Others have space for a printer or keyboard. A laptop requires less room than a desktop with a double monitor. You should have space to work comfortably, and room to sort through important papers.
A functional work space should have bright ambient lighting and a focused task light. Ideally, the ambient lighting will not cast glare or shadows on the work area. The task light should be adjustable to spotlight a small area without glaring on the computer, and should be turned on as needed. Poorly lit areas cause headaches and eye fatigue. Experiment with different bulb intensities and undertones to achieve the desired effect.
Get to Work
Now that you have the perfect desk with the perfect chair on the appropriate floor mat, with just the right amount of light, sit down and get to work!