HOME OFFICE IDEAS: What makes a home office that really works?

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By Iain Aitch

The way that we work has changed beyond all recognition over the last 20 years. The internet has been a real game changer, meaning that more of us can now work from home at least a few days a week. But we still haven’t entirely got the hang of what to do about the home office. Do we go for the flexibility of the kitchen table, convert the spare bedroom or create a corner we can close down when the weekend arrives? Then there is the matter of design, décor and storage. It’s no wonder that many of us are still perched on an old living room chair surrounded by cardboard boxes.

How do I keep myself from spending my working hours in a dark box room?

“From my own experience, I know that you need that the room has a good window,” says Tom Bentley, who is UK Operations Manager for Refresh Renovations. “Don’t just box yourself in, because you need to have a decent work environment.

“My home office is very open, with that good light and good connections for IT. You need to have quiet and plenty of space if you can. If you can, then I really think you should have a separate area that you can shut the door on and switch off once work is over.”

Is there such a thing as the best office chair?

Office seating is very much a question of preference, but it goes without saying that you need something that is going to be as comfortable at 5pm as it is at 9am.

Views on arm-rests and tilt facility on chairs differ but do yourself a favour and go and try several chairs that are designed for desk-based work. That chair you pull out when your nan comes for Christmas dinner is not going to cut it.

Good office chairs can cost anywhere from £100 to £1,000 but remember that a good one will last you 10 years and save you a fortune in osteopathy bills. It is also something you have to look at a lot, so don’t go for anything ugly or dull. Treat yourself to a design classic if you can afford it, or visit a specialist in back pain, if only to ensure you don’t get any.

Do I need to think beyond office décor and place to sit?

“For me, the important thing to consider a fixed internet connection, especially if wi-fi is not stable in your home, says Kelley Malcher, who is a Refresh renovation expert and Director of Aubree Limited. “Take that in to account when you are doing any renovations, so that you have the right wiring. I know that I need more plug points in my own home office, although my electrician is always tied up working for our own customers.

“If you want a home office in the garden you have to pay attention to making sure that it is not too hot in the summer and too cold in winter. Insulation is a must.”

I only have a tiny spare room as an office, can that work?

The changing patterns of work make a lot of demands on our home, so it pays to find solutions that are either adaptable or take up minimal space. Ikea has some great space-saving solutions for home offices, which recognise the realities of the way we live.

Storage is really the best way to deal with a small space. Make sure that you utilise wall space, without closing the room in on itself. Noticeboards will keep important papers off the desk surface and keep you organised. Bookshelves will stop files and research materials from piling up and even having a place to hang up your work jackets or laptop bag will really help. The back of the door is great for this.

Are there simple office solutions for if I don’t have a spare room?

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have that extra space to create a whole home office for ourselves, but the good news is that there are flexible solutions that allow you to evolve beyond the corner of the dining table or hanging out in the local coffee shop. Drop down tables are one solution, from specially-designed office tables to small fold-up dining or cards tables that you can tidy away easily. You can also find an attractive screen to close off a corner of a room, meaning you can leave your work in place without it taking over a room. You can also find bright or attractive vintage filing cabinets so that your bedroom or living room don’t start to resemble a building society or local government office.

Get in touch

Are you in urgent need of some office space? Get in touch with Refresh to make it happen!

Want to know more?

Find out how to turn a box room into a fully operational office, complete with a meeting space; in this bedroom conversion.

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