Putting the ‘home’ in home office

Eileen Boxall is an expert when it comes to organization. PHOTO: Submitted

Is your home office making you crazy? Did you make space for your office in a corner of your bedroom or kitchen and now find that it simply isn’t working for you? You are not alone. According to a 2010 Statistics Canada report, the number of paid employees working from home rose by 23 per cent since 2000 and the number of self-employed people rose even higher.

In the Beach, 75 per cent of the population over 15 years old participates in the labour force, according to the 2011 Beach Neighbourhood Census.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of young people moving into the neighbourhood which might account for the high percentage of workers in The Beaches compared to the city norm.

Include the trend for employees to work from home, and I’m not surprised to hear from people who struggle with creating an attractive yet functional work space.

Setting up and organizing an efficient and welcoming home office can be done, however, with a little planning and minimal cost.

My home office, for example, is a desk against a wall in the basement. I like to work with a clear surface, so I bought a desk with two drawers and a small file cabinet that fits under the desk. Since I detest working in any basement, I made the space inviting by putting a collection of my favourite photos on a shelf above the desk and cork board to hold a calendar and tasks for the week.

The final touch was rewarding myself with 15 minutes of listening to Springsteen. As a professional organizer I loved the challenge of setting up an office but for many this is definitely not what they call fun.

Here are a few tips I have found to be useful in setting up and maintaining a home office.

 

  1. Where to put your office

Ideally you want to have a room that is solely dedicated to your office. However, if this isn’t possible, find an out-of-the-way nook or a spare closet that can be converted by removing the door. Whatever space you choose, it needs to have very little traffic, sufficient light and a place where there will be few interruptions or distractions. If at all possible, sleep experts recommend it not be in your bedroom.

 

  1. What should be part of your office

An ergonomically sound chair and desk is a must. When deciding on a desk, it can be decorative to blend in with the room as long as it’s comfortable to work and to sit at. I would recommend it have at least one drawer to hold small office-type things such as pens, post-its, and paper clips. One kind of desk that is getting great reviews in terms of ergonomics, is the sitting-standing desk that allows you to switch easily from sitting to standing. They start at about $300 and go as high as $1,500 or more. Check out www.mayoclinic.org for more information about correct posture while working at your desk.

 

  1. How to store papers and files

Decorative boxes that match the colour scheme of your room can be an excellent alternative to a file cabinet. If you have too many files to store in your office area, consider putting the less frequently used files such as tax returns and insurance papers, in a clear file box in another room or closet.

 

  1. The fun stuff

Personalize your office by putting up art, photos and treasures from your travels or family. Be sure to use the wall space above your desk for a pegboard or cork board, and shelves for books or magazines.

 

Whether you set up your office on your own or choose to work with a professional organizer, you can create a welcoming, efficient work space that increases your productivity and keeps you in your happy place.

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