The rise of the internet has not only changed the way in which we work, it has also changed where we work. Increasingly, employees are permitted – even encouraged, in many cases – to work from home, travelling to the office only to meet clients, attend important meetings and catch up with colleagues. Even more people are choosing to opt for self-employment, meaning that their home is not only their castle but the centre of their business empire too.
Of course, working from home can be a double-edged sword: while the particular hell of commuting is happily no longer a factor in one’s day, there are all the distractions of trying to put in a solid eight hour’s graft in a domestic environment. Maybe you can get away with working at the kitchen table for a short time when the whole country’s transport network has ground to a halt following a blizzard, but if working from home is to be your everyday reality you will need to be serious – and you will need to be organised.
Perhaps you have already set aside a room for such activities as surfing the net on your laptop or filling in your tax returns, but these informal activities are hardly adequate preparation for turning part of your home into a viable work space. Whether you are thinking of taking over that box room that was never seriously going to become an extra guest bedroom, or have a reasonable amount of space to convert into a formal home office, it’s time to be professional. First and foremost, you must decide on a desk that will meet all your needs, whether you are a draughtsman or architect who needs drawers large enough to store many large sheets of paper, or prefer to design or write electronically and need space to accommodate several computer screens.
It goes without saying that the desk you choose must suit your style of working, so if your natural tendency is to err towards untidiness, you must find a piece of furniture that makes it easy to keep your working area in order. With businesses increasingly relying on technology such as Skype and FaceTime to stay in touch with freelancers and suppliers, a disastrously messy desktop wouldn’t create a good impression.
Jonathan Stewart of Wharfside, whose Shoreditch-based company specialises in finding solutions for every lifestyle, has extensive experience in helping clients to make their homes suitable as workplaces. “It’s worth spending some time on the planning stage, so that your office is right from the offset,” he advises. “You will obviously need to consider the practicalities of phone lines and tech solutions, but Wharfside can certainly help clients to maximise their space and develop an energy-efficient setup. You will need to bear in mind that clutter has a negative effect on productivity, so ensure that you have a suitable filing system that allows you to keep your worksurfaces as clear as possible. Obviously, your first two tasks are to decide what kind of desk works best for you and find a chair that allows you to sit and work comfortably. We can ensure that you buy the best desk, chairs and storage units for your requirements.”
Ensuring that your home working area is ergonomically efficient will help you to feel more positive about life in general, but especially about the time you will need to spend in your office. Disorder distracts and, in turn, leads to frequent trips to the kitchen to make tea and coffee and find other domestic diversions.
Obviously, your line of business will, to some extent, dictate the layout of your working space. Creative types – graphic designers, for instance – may feel inspired by bursts of colour and notice boards that teem with pictorial influences and ideas, whereas personal details such as this may well be considered inappropriate by a financial adviser who is often visited by clients.
“The most important factor is to consider how best you work,” says Jonathan Stewart. “Offices should be as individual as fingerprints and, since working from home means you have the freedom to set up your space to suit you, this is the perfect opportunity to equip your home to maximise your sense of wellbeing. Working from home and self-employment mean you can free yourself from the strictures of the workplace. The Wharfside team can suggest ways in which you can ensure that your new working conditions not only help you to operate more efficiently, but reflect your personality. We can also provide you with handcrafted wooden furniture that solves all your workplace problems.”