Home office planning: The essential guide
There's a lot more to home office planning than simply buying a desk. Everything about your space - from the layout to your chair - needs to work for you.
Working from home is becoming the new normal for a lot of people and with increased workplace flexibility, it is likely to be a standard option within many companies. The growing popularity of working from home means that more people than ever are having to consider how to create a home office
While working from the sofa may be a suitable option for the odd day at home, it soon becomes clear that it is a less than ideal setup. Company offices are organised the way they are - with a desk, suitable seating and storage - for a number of reasons but the main ones are functionality, comfort and productivity. These are three of the main reasons it is worth investing in a home office if you regularly work flexibly.
That being said, creating a home office isn’t always as easy as buying a desk and firing up your computer. There are a few things you need to consider in order to create a workspace that works for you, doesn’t impact the rest of your home negatively and allows you to be as productive as you would be if you were working in your company’s office.
To help you get the best results, here is our essential guide to home office planning:
Consider the space you’re using
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a spare room that they can claim as a home office. Even if they do, it may not be a simple case of claiming the entire room for this purpose. In many cases, you’re left fitting a home office into a multi-use room, whether this is your lounge, dining room, bedroom or guest room, which means you need to consider the space you’re using.
Before you buy any office furniture for your home office, you need to have a look at exactly where you’re going to put it and whether this is actually the best place for your workspace. You need to consider:
- Do you have enough room for everything you’ll need?
- Is your office furniture going to impact other ways the room is used?
- Are you going to be able to work comfortably without feeling restricted?
- Will you be able to easily tidy everything away at the end of your workday?
- Is the current layout of the room the best option?
While you might like how the room is currently set up, meaning you just need to fit your desk in wherever it might not be the optimal way to use the available space. Think about how the room is used and where there is a good opportunity to better use space. You’ll then be able to clear an area ready for you to create your home office.
Measure and then measure again
One of the worst things you can do when planning your home office is to just order the furniture you think will work without having a space ready and without measuring it. Save yourself the hassle of putting furniture together only to realise that it isn’t right by measuring everything first.
Measuring for your home office isn’t just about working out how big your desk should be, you also need to look at how much space you’ll have for your chair - bearing in mind you’ll want to move it around - extra storage and other equipment.
If you have a whole room to play with, things are a bit easier in this respect, but if your office needs to work alongside your coffee table, sofa and other furniture, measuring can take a bit more time. In this instance, you might want to use masking tape to mark out the space that your home office will be occupying, so you aren’t just judging by eye. You’ll then need to decide where your main items of home office furniture are going to go so you can better get an idea of size.
It is always best to give yourself some wiggle room with your measurements just to allow for small errors. If, for example, you have a space that is exactly 1200mm wide, you probably don’t want to get a desk that is exactly this size, just in case your measurements are wrong and it doesn’t quite fit.
Choosing the right home office desk
Once you have your space set out and you know how big your desk can be, you can start looking at which option best suits your needs.
To start with, you need to decide if you’re going for a simple rectangular desk, a corner workstation or something slightly different like a wave desk. Each of these offers a range of benefits and options, as our handy guide on desk styles shows, so it’s a case of assessing need, preference and the room you have.
Rectangular or square desks are a great option if you just want something easy and versatile. They’re available in various styles, colours and sizes so you have plenty of options. Wave desks are much the same, although the wave-shaped front provides you with a larger desk surface. If you need to tuck your desk into a corner, a corner desk is a good option, as it will make the most of the room available and provide you with a larger desk - although you may also find it takes up more room.
You also need to consider the depth of your desk, as you may find that a narrow desk is the better option. The average desk depth is around 800mm, which may be too large to fit comfortably or look right in your home. Luckily, you can get narrower desks with depths of 600mm - such as those included in our Home Work range - that are ideal for home use or more compact spaces.
When you know what shape and size desk you want, you can start to look at the different styles available. While desk tops don’t really change, you have options when it comes to the legs of your desk, which can affect the overall look. Standard desk types include cantilever, goalpost, A-frame and panel end, so take a look at these to see what you prefer and what will look best with any existing furniture.
You’ll also want to look at the available colours and finishes in order to ensure you don’t clash with the furniture you have and that you can get matching of complementary office storage.
Finding suitable storage
A desk alone doesn’t make a home office. You also need to think about what storage you’re likely to need, whether this is just a drawer that you can clear paperwork into at the end of the day, a secure filing cabinet for company papers or a cupboard for equipment.
Of course, the storage you choose will be just as dependent on space as your desk, so anything you need has to fit the room you have. While you can consider storage in other areas of your house, this can get complicated and tedious, so should only be a last resort if possible.
An easy option to look at what storage can comfortably occupy the same space as your desk. This can mean under-desk storage solutions or choosing a desk with drawers. Attached pedestals can provide lockable storage to keep items secure and make the most of space that would otherwise be wasted, while under-desk storage provides manoeuvrability.
Similarly, building your storage upwards can help avoid using up more space than necessary. Look at installing some shelves or opt for one of our Home Work desks that includes upper storage shelves or cupboard.
You can also consider how desk-high storage can be utilised in your home office. Can you opt for a smaller desk but extend the work surface with a desk-high cupboard or cabinet so you’re not using more room? Desk-high storage is also ideal if you need room for equipment like a printer or specialist phone but don’t want them directly on your desk.
If you’re setting up your home office in a multi-use room, you may want to consider multi-use storage. Solutions like combination cupboards or cube storage units can provide you with the space you need to store work-related items but also books, DVDs ornaments and anything else you may want on show throughout your home.
Sorting out your seating
Whether you work from home all the time or just occasionally, your chair will make a big difference. After all, is little point in ensuring you have the right desk and suitable storage if you opt for a cheap, uncomfortable chair.
While it can be tempting to buy a chair just for the way it looks - especially if your home office is being set up somewhere like your living room - you need to ensure you have a suitable ergonomic desk chair. Not only will this make sure you’re comfortable, but it also provides you with the right support and can ensure you don’t end up with a bad back as a result of the time you spend sitting at your desk.
That’s not to say that a desk chair can’t look the part. There are plenty of styles and colours available that can ensure your chair still works with your decor, however, the way your chair looks shouldn’t be considered the most important thing.
You need to make sure that you choose a chair that is comfortable, offers the right adjustments, suits your needs and is built to last. All of our ergonomic office chairs come with options including whether you want arms or not and how many levels of adjustment you need. They also all come with a five-year guarantee, ensuring you’ll get a lot of use out of your chosen chair.
Adjusting as you go
Planning out your space and then choosing and setting up your home office is only really the start of the whole process. You can’t be sure that everything is going to work for you straight off the bat.
Seeing how your setup works and making adjustments as you go - whether it’s too the angle of your desk, the way you use your storage or anything else - will ensure you get the most use out of your home office. After all, if it doesn’t work for you, there isn’t much point in having it.
You may find that the room you’ve set your office up in gets too loud to allow you to work or that there are too many distractions. Adjust as you go and make sure your office is reactive to your needs - even if that means moving the layout around or putting your desk in a completely different room.
It’s also important to make sure you’re setting up your desk correctly for using with a computer, as this can also affect your productivity and comfort. Once you have all of your home office furniture ready to go, take a look at our computer desk set up guide to ensure your workspace is functional and optimised.
Get advice on home office planning
Still not sure how to plan your home office or what furniture best suits your needs? Ask the experts.
Our helpful and knowledgeable customer service team is ready to answer your questions and help you create a home office that suits your needs and works with your space. To get in touch, give them a call on 0800 8044 760, drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or start a live chat.