Sometimes, in times of crisis, all you can do is focus on what’s directly in front of you. And for many, what’s directly in front of you is work, albeit with an unfamiliar face. Social distancing and self-isolation have quickly and (here’s hoping) temporarily redefined the work day, relocating your workplace to a space somewhere between the kitchen and the perch from which you consume Netflix or similar.
During this time, we’ve seen that designing the home office can benefit from many of the same principles that we apply to the commercial office fit out.
Function in form
As with any interior office design, the flourishes and finishes of a workplace should never exist in a vacuum. Every project must begin with a deep consideration of function, which in turn, informs form. If you’re a senior designer, architect or video editor, you’re not going to repurpose that narrow antique roll-top desk as a workstation simply because of its charm, you’re going to select a desk with enough width and depth to house large sheets of paper or multiple monitors. In other words, everything should hinge on one question: which design choices will best complement and enable the essential functions of my role?
Clutter and mess cloud the mind with unnecessary information. Disorder disorganises thinking. Purpose-less additions promote a lack of purpose. Every design choice you make while assembling your home office should solve a problem before you can consider its aesthetic value.
With so many of us facing never-before-experienced isolation, wellness at work is now more important than ever.
Instead of cornering off in a study with the shutters down and spending all day under artificial light, let natural light into the room so it can help regulate both your circadian rhythms and dopamine and serotonin levels associated with mood. If possible, introduce a small plant into your workspace, or position your desk near a window where outside greenery is visible to promote biophilia (a connection to the natural world that promotes calmness and clarity) can do its thing. Your brain will thank you for it.
Other design principles to consider
Symmetry – our brains love it, so if you design your workspace so that whatever requires the most of your attention (e.g. – your computer monitor) takes centre stage and everything else is distributed evenly on either side, you’ll find it centres you and refines your focus.
Ergonomics – placing your monitor at the correct height, distance and angle; ensuring your chair provides adequate support and is adjusted so you’re able to sit correctly; keeping key objects on your desk, close to your body.
Colour – drab and stark or harsh, clashing colours can dampen or overload the mind. Considering choosing cool colours, or specific colours that inspire you.
Right now, everything is overwhelming, including the never-ending tsunami of home office set-up advice, so we are offering you choices that minimise that overwhelm. Following tried and tested design principles while creating your home office will do that for you.
Stay safe and create a workplace that works for you.