Let’s talk home office.
It was barely spring in mid-March when you packed up your laptop and headed home thinking this work-from-home thing was a temporary measure to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
Now, more than three months later and on the cusp of summer, you’re still working remotely from your makeshift home office, papers spread out on the dining room table, your funky bar stool doubling as a desk chair.
This is a brand-new working world and that means it’s time to re-evaluate your home-office situation. Making informed and smart changes can mean the difference between loving – or hating – your workspace. But it’s not just about sitting pretty. We’re not talking man cave here. This is about increased productivity, quality of work, and yes, comfort.
We spoke with award-winning Toronto interior designer and television personality, Jane Lockhart, on how to set up a luxurious, comfortable and functional home office that you’ll enjoy working in, regardless of the size of your home.
Regarding Luxury: What are some basic things to consider, in terms of home office ideas?
Jane Lockhart: Given we are all working from home, and likely will be for a while, it’s important to determine if there is enough room to perform real job functions. Is there enough privacy or removal of distractions from the proposed office location to successfully be used on a daily basis?
Custom-made workspaces are more important today than ever because one size doesn’t fit all. I’m a fan of being super-organized, and sure, the cloud is handy, it helps keep paper at bay, but if you work with large, paper projects like architectural drawings, you’ll need room to spread stuff out and then store it away after. I’ve designed many workspaces to include wider storage drawers to lay paperwork flat, as well as upright filing drawers.
If you need a lot of workspace and you have the room, L-shaped desks and corner desks give you the most flexibility to move around and spread out. Most people only require half the amount of work area they used to, so overhead cabinets and hutches may not be necessary (unless you need to hide a lot of stuff).
Regarding Luxury: What about a home office in a small space, say a 650-sq.ft. one-bedroom condo?
Lockhart: For an open-concept space, you want to find a permanent area that is not the kitchen island or dining table. It needs to be somewhere you can still walk away from so you don’t feel that you are “living” in your office.
For small spaces, like condos where you may not have a dedicated office, you’ll want the work surface to comfortably hold your desktop computer and keyboard and other stuff you use every day, but it doesn’t need to be too deep. Keyboard trays that tuck in underneath when not in use are handy, too. Cables and cords need to be tamed and out of sight.
You may need to separate the work surface from the desk storage. If they aren’t all in one, find a place nearby for storage. I prefer multi-sized drawers to cabinets. You can see everything at once when you open a drawer. A wireless printer/scanner can be placed almost anywhere it can get a signal, so move it off your work surface and find a safe place to store it.
Large desks aren’t necessary today, but the ability to set up monitors and store files is more critical than ever. Invest in an armoire or pantry-style cabinet to hold everything. A stylish, built-in desk that blends with your style and surroundings is the ideal workspace for a condo without making it look too office-like.
Regarding Luxury: Technology: What suggestions do you have to include good tech at home while keeping the space inviting?
Lockhart: There is no chance today to work from home without technology. Most items are wireless but make sure to upgrade hubs as required to have the best service possible. It’s obviously frustrating if downloads are slow and connections weak.
If you have the opportunity, add more outlets above your desktop, approximately 36-inches above the floor, and also below the desktop. This will allow you to keep items that travel with you plugged in at easy-to-remove locations and more permanent items fixed below.
I’ve also discovered Docking Drawer. Just like it sounds, it’s an in-drawer charging outlet that allows you to charge multiple gadgets simultaneously, in a drawer. You can install it in a kitchen, bathroom, or desk drawer, near a power source. It’s a great way to move all the charging clutter out of sight. You can learn more at Dockingdrawer.com
Also, with Zoom calls happening regularly and likely to continue, find a space where you can have light on the front of your face and a neutral background that isn’t too distracting. Personal items hung on walls or in cabinets may not be something you want to share with a whole company on a call, so rethink what your background should be that adds to your office personality and business approach.
Regarding Luxury: What are other elements that make an office space feel personal yet luxurious and functional.
Lockhart: Always add great lighting, as this can change how a space feels. And, you can set the lighting in a way that makes you feel good, whether that would be a cool temperature LED fixture to create a bright and efficient environment, or a warmer version for a cozy and more nurturing space.
The award-winning Capisco chair by Hag is very cool looking and offers a variety of comfortable sitting positions to encourage you to shift your weight and be more active while sitting. It works well with standing desks and it’s available through Fully.com
Regarding Luxury: Finally, if you had carte blanche, what kind of office would you design and what bells and whistles would you include?
Lockhart: An ideal office would have multiple areas in it to allow for a variety of functions. Two desks would be recommended, one with seating and another that is adjustable for a variety of tasks, like laying out large plans or documents.
The room would have a separate reading area with a comfortable chair so you can step away from the desk. Natural daylight is a must, preferably with a view of greenery and nature year-round. Natural light is also good for Zoom calls.
A large, custom-made credenza, built-in for maximizing surface space will add function and style. Adjustable lighting designed to fit the task where it’s needed most and added ceiling and wall treatments provide a visual break from computer screens. Finally, sound managed through textiles, like wall panels and upholstered furniture and technology adds to the luxurious vibe.