16 Tips for Building the Perfect Home Office

Jun 10, 2017 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team
Productivity Hacks: 16 Tips for Building the Perfect Home Office
Posted Jun 10, 2017 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team

For a lot of e-commerce entrepreneurs, their home is also their first office. It makes sense as well — when you’re starting out, cutting costs and commute time is crucial. Working from home solves both these problems cheaply. But there’s another advantage few people talk about: the freedom to design your own office space.

Conventional offices restrict how and where you work. You are limited by equipment as well as environment. With your home office, however, you can be as comfortable as you want to be. You can choose your own space, decor, and equipment.

We’ve put together a list of life hacks for building a more comfortable and productive office space.

Getting the Right Equipment

The first step in building a comfortable office is getting comfortable equipment. You’ll spend long hours at your desk and your computer; the right equipment can go miles in improving productivity and comfort.

Here are a few life hacks for choosing home office equipment.

1. Invest in a comfortable chair

A comfortable chair is the heart of a productive home office. You’ll spend nearly half your day on it; investing in a good one will make a marked difference to your work life.

Selecting the right chair can be a challenge. Prices vary a lot — a basic chair will cost under $50 while a high-end Aeron chair will set you back by a minimum of $1,000.
To find the right fit, head over to your local furniture store and test out a few chairs in-person. Check for back, thigh and arm support. Also consider the material used and warranties offered, if any.

2. Buy a second monitor

A second monitor is the closest you can get to a productivity superpower. An additional screen makes so many tasks easier — coding, designing, writing and researching. It also makes multi-tasking more approachable.

If you don’t like juggling windows, a second monitor should be high on your wish list. For best results, buy the same model as your current setup so you have the same screen fidelity and experience.

Kristen working with two screens

Two screens double productivity!

3. Don’t forget mice and keyboards

The humble mouse and keyboard often get ignored for larger, flashier equipment. Yet, they are crucial for productivity and comfort.

For keyboards, try using mechanical keyboards. These have mechanical, clicky keys that give a lot of feedback. They might be noisy, but they offer unparalleled typing comfort. Writers and coders will especially love them.

For mice, choose something larger that fits your hand comfortably. Gaming mice are particularly good for comfort and accuracy, though they tend to be pricey. Avoid small travel mice — they’re uncomfortable for extended use.

4. Consider buying a standing desk

There is a growing body of research showing that sitting for extended periods of time is bad for your health. This is why a new generation of workers are embracing standing desks.

A standing desk is exactly what you think: a tall desk where you work standing up. Most such desks are height adjustable (i.e. you can lower/raise the height as needed). Some more expensive variants can even be converted into conventional sit-down desks on the fly.

A standing desk won’t magically transform your health, but it will improve productivity, focus and heart health.

Matt is working at a standing desk

Matt is working at a standing desk

5. Follow ergonomic rules

Minimize the damage sitting for long hours causes to your body by following ergonomic rules. Set up your workspace in such a way that your back and neck are straight and your arms are parallel to the floor. Avoid slouching or keeping your arms at odd angles.

Use the ergotron workspace planner to help you set up your workspace. This tool will tell you exactly where to keep your monitor, keyboard, chair and desk based on your height.

For example, this is the recommended layout for a 6’0” person.

The recommended layout for a 6’0” person

6. Add some green plants

A few green plants will not only add a dash of color to your office space but also increase happiness and reduce stress. In fact, even a few plans can increase productivity by as much as 15%, according to one study.

Instead of choosing just any green plants, pick something that is easy to maintain and helps improve air quality. The spider plant, dracaena, ficus and Boston fern are particularly well known for their air filtering qualities.

Dracaena

Dracaena

7. Wire management goes a long way

You wouldn’t really want to come to work in an office that’s covered in jumbled cables and wires.

Basic wire management can go a long way towards improving your office aesthetic. It’s quite cheap as well — you’ll need a few clamps and zip ties to manage messy wires. Here’s a great article from Lifehacker on managing wires with some cheap tools.

Setting up Your Office Space

Your office space is more than the equipment in it; it’s a combination of the decor, lighting and overall aesthetic.

1. Get natural light

The first rule of building a comfortable office is to get plenty of natural light.

Here’s why: a study found that workers who get natural light sleep better (46 minutes more than those who don’t get natural light). Another study found that 40% of workplaces with natural light experience 3%-40% improvements in productivity.

Plus, natural light simply feels better. So make sure to place your chair and desk in a well-lit room.

2. Install ambient lights

Natural light is good, but what if you like working after dark or live in an area with limited natural light?

This is where ambient lighting helps.

Try placing a few cheap rope LED lights around your workspace. Affix them such that they follow the edges of your desk, bathing it in soft light. Refer to this article to learn more about these rope lights.

Additionally, place a high-quality desk/floor lamp near your workspace. Buy something with a dash of design flair (say, a brass lamp) to add some warmth and personality to the space.

This table lamp is very flexible

Choose a flexible table lamp

3. Install f.lux on all computers

At normal brightness, a computer screen has a dominant blue light component (i.e. “cold light”). This is the same as natural sunlight. Which is why a bright screen feels welcoming in the morning.

As the sun fades over the day, the amount of blue light it emits decreases. Late evening sunlight has a predominantly red light component (i.e. “warm light”).
However, when you keep the same level of screen brightness after dark, you fool your body’s circadian rhythm into thinking that it’s still daylight, thanks to the blue light component. This causes eye strain, stress and sleep disorders.

The solution is to use a free tool like F.lux.

F.lux automatically changes the color temperature of your screen over the day. It makes the screen “cold” in the morning and “warm” in the evening. For example, this is the recommended screen color for a Thinkpad laptop through the day:

Recommended screen color for a Thinkpad laptop

Recommended screen color for a Thinkpad laptop

This ensures that your circadian rhythm doesn’t get disrupted and your eyes adjust better to the change in daylight over time.

4. Keep space and equipment for brainstorming

Your best ideas will often come away from the desk. Maintaining space inside your office for brainstorming is a good way to get the creative juices flowing.

How you create this space is a personal preference. Some might prefer a relaxing couch while others might want a simple standing desk and a whiteboard.

At the very least, you should have a place to keep ideas (such as a pinboard) and easy access to pens, notebooks, etc.

5. Add Some Personality and Warmth with Decor

One of the good things about a home office is that you can decide its decor as per your tastes. Good decor won’t just make your office space feel more inviting, it will also improve productivity.

There is a scientific basis for this: a warm, welcoming environment improves productivity, as per one study. Another employee survey found that 83% of respondents said artwork was “important” to their work environment.

When choosing colors, follow color psychology and pick an energy inducing color, such as shades of yellow, orange and red. Avoid dark, dull colors — they can make you feel less energetic.

Orange increases productivity, trust us!

Orange increases productivity, trust us!

Dealing with Distractions

One of the biggest challenges of working from home is maintaining focus and energy. It’s easy to slack off when there is no one to supervise you.
There are a few hacks you can use to make dealing with distractions easier.

1. Segregate work and living areas

The idea of working in your PJs from your bed sounds great on paper. In reality, doing so will impact your productivity negatively.
The brain tends to associate certain spaces with certain tasks. Think of how you automatically feel like working out when you’re at the gym, or how you feel relaxed and at ease in your living room.

This is why it’s important to keep your work and living areas physically separate. Your office should be in a room as far away as possible from the place where you sleep. This will help your brain associate the office area with work and productivity.

2. Buy a separate computer for work

Two reasons why you should buy separate computers for work and personal use:

  • You can claim your work computer as a business expense in your taxes
  • You can customize the work computer and eliminate distracting apps and software

It’s hard to get work done when you’re using the same computer for creating spreadsheets as you do for playing video games or watching Netflix.
This works on the same principle as separating work and office areas. Your brain associates your work computer with “work”, improving productivity. The lack of distracting software and documents helps as well.

Separate computers for work and fun: so that you never feel the temptation for watching Netflix at work

Separate computers for work and fun won’t let you feel the temptation of watching Netflix at work

3. Maintain office hours

While working from home gives you the freedom to work anytime you want, you’ll still want to maintain regular office hours if you want to maximize productivity.
Working for a fixed period of time every day helps give your day routine and structure.

You automatically shift into “work mode” when you’re within your “office hours”.

Besides improving productivity, it’s good for your work-life balance as well. Being an e-commerce entrepreneur is stressful; being able to switch off after your office hours will help you relax. This also means that you get time to spend with your family or pursuing a hobby.

4. Keep your office in a “ready” state

Keeping your office in a “ready” state essentially means that you have all the necessary equipment to get to work when you walk into the office each morning.

Some ways to keep this “ready” state are:

  • Create a to-do list the night before. This way, you know exactly what to do the moment you walk into the office.
  • A clean work environment, so you don’t waste time de-cluttering before getting down to work
  • A switched on computer, so you don’t have to wait for the startup process

Understand that you’re at your productive when you first start work. If you waste this time in mundane tasks — cleaning the office area, figuring out your to-do list — you will impact productivity.

Conclusion

Being able to work from home is one of the best things about running an e-commerce business. Not only do you get to decide your own work hours, you can also design your office space exactly as per your needs.

There are a few simple tricks you can use to create a more comfortable and productive home office. Choosing the right decor, installing ambient lighting and maintaining a clean office environment will help you get more done.

Follow the life hacks we’ve shared above to build a comfortable home office.

***

What are your tips and tricks for maximizing productivity at your home office? Share them with us below!

About The Author
Lina is a content creator at Ecwid. She writes to inspire and educate readers on all things commerce. She loves to travel and runs marathons.

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