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Have a consistent routine at your home office

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Have a consistent routine at your home office

by Lisa Rogers

Working from home has lots of advantages – the office commute is about 30 seconds, you can stick a load of laundry in between conference calls, and you can wear PJs for most of the day. The downside is you’re too close to it to get away, you don’t want to be doing laundry all day, and PJs are really a fashion crime.

Whether you work for yourself, or for a company that allows for some work from home, you still need a proper office. To start with, plan by making a list of everything you need in order to work well — natural light, tons of storage space, miles of counter top for spreading stuff around.

Where you work is important — preferably a dedicated office space in the guest bedroom, a main floor den, or the basement. This also depends on the kind of work you do – clients dropping in need a place to sit. Laptops and Wifi make it easy to move your office around, even to the back deck.

Include space for printer, phone, and resource materials. Rarely used items can be stored in the basement or a closet.

Chair

You’ll be sitting in this for six to eight hours a day, so get one that adjusts to your specific ergonomics. As pretty as leather is, refrain from buying it because you need something breathable.

Desk

Standard desks are 29 inches high, but 27 inches high is actually ergonomically better for where your arms and hands are while using a laptop. If the desk isn’t adjustable, raise your chair a little. You also need enough work space to spread out papers; if one desk won’t do it, add a second.

A writing desk is preferable to those clunky mid-century office desks – much lighter and easier to move around.

Place your desk so you have a view of the room, and of the outdoors. Remember to place it so that light falls over your shoulder.

Storage

Drawers in the desk – or in stackable containers on top – are good for having stationery, paper clips, pens, pencils, staplers close at hand. Wall mounted storage minimizes physical and visual clutter.

Wherever you keep your files – on computer, external hard drive, or in file folders – make a habit of culling regularly. If you haven’t used something in a year, toss it. (Except taxes – those you need to keep for seven years.)

Lighting

Natural light is best, especially since windows also provide good ventilation. But if that’s not possible, bump up the overhead and task lighting, like a reading lamp. If there’s no room on the desk, have it wall mounted.

Decorate

If your home office is visible from the rest of the main floor, try to tie it in decoratively, so that it blends in style, colour, and theme.

Don’t be afraid of colour, or at least adding colourful accessories. I love white space, but I still like to add colour through accessories – a Navajo blanket, or beautiful pillows on a chair. Incorporate colour as well into stationery, magazine racks, storage containers and so on. Colour affects the way you feel – orange is considered a colour that stimulates creativity, green is restful, blue is calming and yellow makes you happy.

This isn’t the corporate office, it’s your home, so get creative in making it yours, and making a place you look forward to working in. Incorporate art, lamps and accessories that convey your personality. Use what you have – turn a vase into a pen holder, wicker baskets for scrap paper, the dining sideboard for printer, phone and other supplies.

Scheduling

When you work alone, getting down to work can sometimes be hard – far easier to check out the fridge, stare into space, or run the vacuum through the main floor. Most successful people say that having a consistent routine, one that triggers the brain to get into think mode, is the only way to get things accomplished.

Lisa Rogers is the exclusive interior designer for Dunpar Homes.

Lisa has shared her style and design expertise on popular television programs, such as Canadian Living TV, House & Home TV and The Shopping Channel.

Lisa is one of the most familiar faces on CityTV’s Cityline as a regular guest expert for fashion and image, health and wellness and interior design.


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Architecture Expert: Inspired To Work

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Architecture Expert: Inspired To Work

Create a home office that works for you.

More and more people are working from home. Whether full time or part time, this requires a space where you can amp-up your productivity. Before embarking on creating your home office, there are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What type of work will you be doing in the space?
  • Will external clients be visiting?
  • Will colleagues visit for collaborative work?
  • What equipment must be accommodated? Computers, printers, etc.
  • Will you need complete privacy?
  • Will you be using the speakerphone or video conferencing?
  • What type of phone and Internet connectivity is required?
  • How much space do you have to work with?
  • What type of lighting does the space offer and can it be improved?
  • What type of storage is required?
  • What type and how much work surface is required?
  • What type of ergonomics should be considered for your chair, keyboard and work surface?
  • Have you experienced repetitive strain injuries in the past?
  • What is the maximum amount of money you want to spend?

RESEARCH RENDERS RESULTS

Once you gather this information, you can begin to make decisions about the type of home office that will suit your needs, and the requirements that you must accommodate. When dreaming of an overall design concept, think about what inspires you. Perhaps consider a favourite colour or phrase that you can incorporate into the design. How will your space reflect the type of work that you do? If you perform intense head-down work, how can you create a space that offers a respite throughout the day? Should your office offer a serene and restful environment or would you benefit from a space that energizes you?

FURNITURE OPTIONS

Planning an office takes time to evaluate your work patterns before you make purchases or big decisions. Once you determine what is required and how you might design your space, there are many options for furniture and storage. From budget-conscious IKEA to big-box furniture depots to higher-end office furniture from companies like Knoll and Herman Miller, you should invest in the best furniture that you can afford. Offices tend to take a lot of use and abuse, so you want to make sure that storage cabinets are high quality and shelves are mounted securely. Your office chair is one of the most important pieces of furniture you can own. Spending five to eight hours in a chair every day has a lasting impact on your body. It is important that you choose a chair that is highly adjustable for your height, back and arms. A new trend on the market today is height adjustable work surfaces. As a response to newer studies that show sitting in an office chair for extended periods of time takes years off your life, suppliers have created electric motorized work surfaces that can be adjusted throughout the day. Marketed as ‘sit/stand’ desks, most of the major office furniture suppliers now offer these.

LIGHT BRIGHT

Also important for the health of your body, is the type of lighting provided in the space. Simply converting a bedroom into an office without evaluating the lighting is a mistake. You must make sure that your work surface is illuminated properly, whether by ceiling lights or lamps that you add. Ensuring that your computer screen is glare-free also helps reduce eye strain.

WORK STYLE

Most importantly, your office space should be something that you look forward to spending time in—rather than dreading. It should be a space that accommodates your personality and style while offering an encouraging place to work. While some people thrive in a space that is somewhat chaotic, some people want a place for everything and everything in its place.

Personally, I dream of an office with fully enclosed cabinets and clean surfaces, but I can honestly say that I am more inspired by a space that contains some of my favourite gifts from clients, collectables and kids’ notes. The most important element of my personal workspace is a window that looks onto a tree because nature makes me happy. As well, opening the window to hear the birds sing makes me happy every day. These are small considerations, but important to my overall productivity. What makes you happy? Whatever you decide, make each day your masterpiece.

Samantha Sannella

PHOTOGRAPHY: SK DESIGN (TEXTURED WALL), JODY JOHNSON (VINTAGE STORAGE), CYNTHIA SODA, SODAPOP DESIGN (OVERALL OFFICE)

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