Finding that elusive work/life balance is something a great deal of us strives for. As such, it’s not uncommon to hear that work places across the nation are listening to their staff and trying to accommodate their needs as best they can, with solutions that work for both the business and the individual.
One of the most common solutions is spending some of your working hours at home. With this however comes a new challenge. How do you create the most productive and stimulating office space at home?
We reached out to our friend Ashley Fraser, Marketing Manager at Sit & Stand Desks, for his expert advice on how he guides his customers toward creating that perfect home office.
"Firstly, a home office is all about creating a space that supports you achieving maximum productivity, but at the same time is flexible with your current home lifestyle. It needs to help, not hinder, your working hours,” - Ashley.
In order to achieve this harmonious integration of work/life balance, Ashley believes there are four key elements that one can focus on that will help you succeed in creating the perfectly tailored home office.
Pictured above, Ashley Fraser at home with his own Sit & Stand Desk
Ashley’s Top Five Home Office Tips:
1) Office Furniture
Office furniture needs to be both ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing to help integrate the office space with the home décor and create a harmonious workflow environment.
“It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised just how many people focus on the style, and neglect the function, of these two essential pieces,” stated Ashley.
The single most important aspect of a home office according to Ashley is having the right desk to suit your needs.
“Everyone has individual lifestyle needs. One of the latest trends, growing strong for the past two years, is investing in a desk that can help enhance your workflow and health in a completely holistic sense.
Just like a great dining table, a home office desk should be thought of as an investment piece.
It should be something that adds value to your workspace whilst also being adjustable to your changing needs,” advises Ashley.
“What we’re seeing is more and more people asking for adjustable height desks, our sit and stand desks. Many people believe these desks are only for people with back problems. However, that defeats the whole purpose of a sit and stand desk. It’s a bit late to worry about your spine once you’ve developed an injury due to poor ergonomics. The focus should be about prevention, not cure. Just like having a good mattress or doing exercise, using a sit and stand desk is another way to keep healthy and more and more people are concerned about that and, rightly so,” commented Ashley.
2) Good Lighting
Lighting in any work space is incredibly important. Where possible, access to natural light, preferably with an outdoor view is ideal. However, Ashley did note the importance of lamps in illuminating your work desk or station effectively.
“This is incredibly important if your work hours are more conducive to night hours as obviously, you can’t rely on natural daylight,” noted Ashley.
3) Storage & Decoration
Storage is essential. “Even in this day and age when we rely upon our technology storage devices, we all still have those books and paper filings that need somewhere to belong that’s easily accessed and, that helps declutter your space to optimise your efficiency,” Ashley commented.
A bookcase or bookshelf will provide your space with extra storage but will also allow you to decorate and display, personal items like collectables, certificates, photos etc.
“You can add colour with a bold piece of artwork, a cork board for practical reasons, or get creative with a gallery style wall of family photos and prints,” Ashley suggest.
“Having some way to hide clutter is also important as this can encroach on usable space and make your day to day activities more challenging. So, putting your books on a shelf in an orderly manner will help maximise your working space,” comments Ashley.
4) Plant Life
Having greenery in your home office space “significantly transforms your area into an inviting setting and furthermore, the plants will help provide fresh oxygen, cleanse toxins from the air and create a calming atmosphere,” concluded Ashley.
“You might not realise it at the time but being exposed to a simple desk plant and a bit of natural light can improve your mood and concentration considerably," Ashley says.
5) Clever Use of Space
Ashley went on to explain the significance of being aware of limitations to your actual physical space at home, compared to a commercial office fitout.
“There are usually restrictions to the actual size of your home office. Some people may have the luxury of an entire designated room, others may need to factor in an area in an existing lounge room or kitchen. If the space needs to be multipurpose then this will also impact the furniture choices you make. Regardless of where the area is, measuring your work space prior to shopping for home office furniture is essential. No one wants to spend time and money on finding a desk only to get it home and to find it’s too cumbersome. You also want to ensure you have room to sit comfortably and ergonomically.” commented Ashley.
A common theme Ashley encounters with his customers is their desire to find home office furniture that complements their interiors existing style.
“We’ve found most customers want furniture that compliments their current style aesthetic and, adds to their space rather than detracts from the overall look. This is especially so if the home office is to be integrated into an existing room that serves another purpose. No one really wants their home office space to stand out and be a focal point to the interior when it’s a multipurpose room,” explains Ashely.
As such, Sit & Stand Desks sell home office desks that have specific desk top colours & sizes to suit any home décor and space. They can also custom make desk tops to perfectly fit a particular nook within the customer’s home in any finish that is required.
“We realise no two home offices are the same so we like to help our customers as best we can to achieve their ideal home office solutions,” commented Ashley.
Being a market leader in office furniture, we wondered if Ashley had identified any trends in the industry that we can expect to see in the near future.
“As mentioned, the interest in height adjustable desks that allow the user to either sit or stand continue to be popular. The flexibility of these desks allows the user to change positions. By changing from sitting to standing and vice versa, the user is helping improve their spinal form and overall health. The difference between an adjustable height desk and a regular desk is that a regular desk is set to a standard height which may not always suit the user. This is especially the case in home offices where desks/tables are used that are not necessarily designed with ergonomics in mind,” noted Ashley.
“Many people understand the benefits of investing in their health just like they might when buying a new mattress. Many buyers have later mentioned to us that they have felt using a height adjustable desk has reduced their visits to back care specialists and, even helped with such things as better digestion. Obviously, if the desk is used for work purposes it can also be claimed against taxable income which makes it easier to justify the investment,” laughs Ashley. We wondered if this trend towards having a height adjustable desk is for everyone?
“Do you know what? We’ve sold desks to everyone from parents concerned about their children’s back health to architects looking for a better drafting table to, stay at home Mums who love to craft. There’s definitely a greater need today for customised home offices, so the sit and stand desks really seem like the natural choice as all members of the family can use it,” noted Ashley.
Lastly, we asked Ashley if there was a guide to how best use a sit and stand desk depending on the activity you were undertaking?
“I can only speak for myself on this but for example when I want to do a more creative task such produce artwork for a brochure, I usually choose to stand. I’m also more likely to have Soundcloud streaming with some good tunes when I’m in a creative mode. I’m not as much of an analytic person so I tend to sit if I’m doing activities with figures but I guess everyone’s different there. At least with a sit and stand desk you get the choice to do both, and it can effortlessly adjust to your needs rather than you having to make compromises,” Ashley says.
The House of Home Team would like to thank Ashley, from Sit & Stand Desks for his time and insights on the benefits of creating a healthy and stylish home office.
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