News & Insights
5 Tips for Creating a Successful Home Office
The staff at G. Christianson Construction have become very familiar with the importance of an effective home office environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked the designers at G. Christianson Construction for their tips to designing a productive, efficient, and enjoyable office space to elevate workflow in the comfort of your home.
1. Create a Clear Distinction between Home & Work Life.
One designer shared her favorite thread that’s spread around social media; where people were asked to comment on facebook or twitter, what their pets and children have done at home, but replace the pet or child with “co-worker.” One great example shared on parents.com is, “Two of my co-workers have very loud sword fights EVERYDAY that start with giggles and end with one or both of them screaming and crying. And they insist that the rest of their co-workers witness the battle.” While this is hilarious, it also brings to light the need for creating a separation between work and home life so that you can ACTUALLY get work done.
One way to achieve this is by working in a separate room, and replacing the door with a solid core door, rather than a hollow core door. The added structure does a fantastic job at minimizing sound transmission, keeping both outside sound out, and keeping sound inside the room from bothering other ‘co-workers’.
Another simple upgrade to your door can be changing the door to a full glass panel style, rather than a slab or panel door style. You can specify frosted glass, rain glass, or other textured semi-transparent glass, to keep sound privacy but still allow others to know when you’re in the office working and when you’re not.
2. Thoughtful Organization for Easy Access to the Necessities.
You might consider adding custom cabinets to your office space, either next to/under your desk, or fabricate a custom desk with a countertop and cabinets. With customization, you can choose the depth that you need and the height of each drawer to match the sizes of your work items. For example, a smaller drawer for pens, pencils, sticky notes, and other typical office supplies, and a larger cabinet for storing paperwork. With custom, space is maximized most efficiently because you can design to the exact specifications without any empty, unused space. Custom cabinets allow you to choose the perfect cabinet material that matches the style of the rest of your home.
A unique feature of G. Christianson’s custom cabinets, is that all drawers are full-extension, meaning that the back of the drawer pulls out all the way, eliminating that annoying empty space in the back that your hand can’t reach.
3. Ample Lighting.
You might have heard or been told by a Designer or Contractor to place undercabinet lighting in the Kitchen. This provides light exactly where you need to look at something without creating shadows by blocking the ceiling surface mounted light fixture with your body when you lean over a table. The concept of needing light directed specifically on something you are working on, most often on a table or work surface such as Kitchen counters or office desks, is called ‘task lighting’.
We’d recommend utilizing this layer of lighting design in your office space so that you can accurately read your important documents, and eliminate mistakes from either reading or writing. Task lighting in an office setting can be achieved by adding undercabinet lighting on some upper cabinets or floating shelves above your desk, which can be controlled easily by a switch. Because it comes from above and is linear, it can evenly light your work surface and it is one less item cluttering your desk! Another option is to add a desk lamp. You can ask an electrician to circuit a specific outlet to be on a switch, so you can still control the desk lamp with an easily accessible switch!
In Oregon, we can never underestimate the importance of natural lighting, especially when working long hours indoors. Think about positioning your desk near a window, or even consider adding a large window to your office space to maximize daylight in the room. However, don’t forget to position your computer in such a way that avoids glare from the sun.
4. Intentionally Placed Outlets.
One way to quickly create the feeling of clutter in a room, especially smaller rooms, is when there are a ton of wires visibly bunched together. This tends to also give the feeling of an unfinished space. When our staff moved to working from home, we found that our make-shift office spaces lacked enough outlets to plug in all our necessary equipment, and thus involved running to the store to buy a power strip. When designing your home office, wires can be better stored by placing the sufficient amount of outlets in locations that you plan to place your computer and at the heights equivalent to the technology. For example, place an outlet at desk height for powering your monitor(s) (which will work great for flexibility if you choose a height adjustable desk!), and place an outlet where the computer will lie at normal ground level outlet height.
Specifying an outlet with USB capabilities at desk height is also great for charging your phone while you are working.
5. Remember to Take Breaks!
All of us on staff have some days where we spend all day staring at the computer, whether it’s writing contracts or designing our client’s spaces. When we worked in our company office building, we’d have to remind each other to go take a 10 minute walk outside and stretch our legs.
Our crew members take photos of the job they’re working on for the clients to see the progress of their project, and upload them to our project management software, co-construct. They take these photos at their 3pm break everyday, which also reminds them to take their 10 minute break from their work. While breaks may seem like they waste time, it’s actually more productive to take a break because it rejuvenates creativity and focus.
Our crew has demonstrated a test of this theory. Our Production Manager, Ben Metzger, implemented the idea for our crew to meet at our shop location on Circle Blvd in Corvallis, first thing in the morning at 7am rather than starting the day at their job site. Our crew then starts the day off with time for group stretching, and then a small amount of time for cleaning different areas of our shop. Ben says that since they started this routine, he’s noticed a significant improvement in productivity and general happiness among our crew.
For laughs here’s a fun quote from the television show, The Office, poking fun at this idea of taking breaks improving productivity: