It’s Time to Invest in Your Home Office
Here’s how to design a better work environment and Zoom background.
Talia recently received a promotion that requires her to interact with clients over video calls much more than previously. Feeling that the white wall behind her desk chair doesn’t present her in the most professional manner, she has decided to give her home office a facelift.
According to a Fixr survey, 44% of experts in the building and design industry think homeowners are going to invest in a dedicated office space, and 44% predict investments in technical upgrades to go with it. Whether you’re adding on to the house to get more workspace or simply sprucing up your corner, stepping up your home office game can improve your entire professional presentation for those who see you on videoconferences.
Here are our tips for planning the new design.
Design with the three Cs in mind.
When Valerie Hayes, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance, redecorated her home office, she thought about the three Cs: color, cleanliness, and comfort. “One day, I looked around at my office and realized the beige walls and heavy brown furniture were dragging me down,” she says.
When choosing your palette, surround yourself with calming tones, but don’t be afraid of a little color. It can lift your spirits and look better than white or gray as your Zoom background. Regarding cleanliness, Hayes found that bringing in a smaller, lighter desk and creating storage solutions for books and papers made the space feel tidy. Finally, consider both your physical and mental comfort. Get a supportive chair and consider creating a theme that reminds you of somewhere you love, such as the mountains or the beach.
Make your background clean but lived in.
Career experts recommend keeping your background simple so as not to distract from what you’re saying on the video call. But if it’s too sterile, that could be seen as a reflection of your personality. Use your backdrop as an opportunity to share a glimpse of your interests, family, or taste. Some ideas: hang a few photos, put up wallpaper, nicely style a bookshelf, get a big potted plant, or add an interesting piece of artwork. “These things can be conversation starters,” Hayes says.
Create a productive atmosphere.
One way to make your workspace both joyful and productive is to make sure it isn’t cluttered. Clutter can be incredibly distracting when you’re trying to focus on work priorities. Create one “inbox” folder for papers that have to be dealt with, set a recurring time every week to address them, then immediately file or shred them so they don’t pile up. Career experts recommend getting a candle or diffuser, too; a pleasant scent can help you stay collected on a stressful day and take some of the drudgery out of working a late night or weekend.
Optimize for ergonomics.
Many American workers have spent months hunched over their laptops, and the toll on their bodies is real. It’s important to have a comfortable chair with good back support that allows you to sit up straight and plant your feet firmly on the floor, with your computer at eye level.
And consider buying an adjustable desk so you can stand for at least part of the day. A Texas A&M University study found that workers with standing desks increased their productivity over those with seated desks by 23 percent in the first month of the study. Even if you do choose to sit, stand up periodically to move around and stretch. Hayes recommends setting a timer to remind yourself to stand up. “Sitting all day can be a physical and mental drain,” she says.