Creating a Functional Home Office

According to McKinsey Global Institute, a segment of the workforce will continue to work remotely in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic due to a sociocultural and technological shift that limited remote work in the past.  To survive, companies and business owners had little choice but to implement structures and systems that enabled their employees to work efficiently from home.  Even as economies across the world reopen and many people return to work, the lockdowns, quarantines and self-imposed isolations continue to confine tens of millions of working professionals to the work-from-home lifestyle. 

McKinsey Global Institute believe that at least 20 percent of the global workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office.  However, this depends to a large extent on the working environment.  Setting up a functional and organised workspace is essential for productivity and efficiency.  At the very least, some thought and preparation should go into creating a working environment that balances working conditions conducive to your own health and comfort, with the needs of your family and business.  


Selecting the Space

Depending on the amount of space available, setting up a functional workspace may require that you repurpose a quiet area in your home, away from noise and distractions, if the luxury of a separate home office is not available to you.  For example, a nook in the spare bedroom or an unused cupboard.  Inform family members or housemates that this area is designated for your work during business hours, and discuss boundaries/rules in terms of interruptions during this time.  Workspace requirements will vary depending on the type of business you are engaged in, as well as the space available and the type and size of you chosen office furniture.


Finding the Furniture

The most essential item of furniture in any home office is the desk or workspace.  The size and style will depend wholly on the space available and your budget.  Whether it is a butcher block laid across two filing cabinets or a modern floating desk squeezed into a nook, there are thousands of store-bought and DIY options available to suit even the most constrained budget or space.  The desk should be large enough to support a laptop or monitor, and high enough to work comfortably without straining your neck, shoulders and back.  Equally important is the choice of desk chair, which should be the right height for the desk.  If working from home has become a relatively permanent arrangement, consider investing in an ergonomically comfortable chair that provides sufficient back and arm support to eliminate back and neck problems down the line. 


Let there be Light

So far as possible, situate your workspace close to a window that allows for ample natural light while you work.  Studies indicate that natural lighting boosts productivity, positively influences job-enjoyment, improves health, reduces fatigue, headaches, and eyestrain, and creates a feeling of spaciousness.  A small desk plant will compliment the natural light and further relieve stress and tension.  If your desk is not situated close to a window, ensure it is well-lit by means of a desk lamp.  If space is a concern, invest in an inexpensive clip-on desk lamp that sufficiently lights your reading area. 


Space-Saving Storage Solutions

Take advantage of the vertical wall space surrounding your working area for the storage of books and office supplies to keep your desk clear of unnecessary clutter.Floating shelves and inexpensive wall-mounted storage units are an ideal way to store work essentials within easy reach.If your budget is limited, get creative! A hanging pegboard is a vertical storage option that organises and displays office essentials within reach in a visually appealing manner. No more than one or two desktop storage containers for utility items such as pens, scissors, and paper clips are necessary.These may simply be upcycled decorative biscuit tins or containers repurposed from around the house.



Carve out a workspace that relieves stress and restores balance to your worklife.  Dr. Brenna Renn, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and acting assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, believes that a decluttered workspace supports mental health, improves focus and reduces anxiety and stress.  Keep etceteras on the desk to a minimum.  Too many family photographs and desk plants not only crowd your workspace but may subtly pull your attention away from the tasks at hand.  Moreover, ensure your general working area is tidy and that household items/tasks that may distract you (a pile of unpaid bills or unfolded laundry) are stored neatly in another room.


In these unprecedented times, the challenge for working professionals is now creating a workspace that enhances productivity and efficiency from the comfort of their own home.  Business owners and employees should continue to embrace the work-from-home lifestyle by further equipping themselves for working and collaborating remotely, and balancing home-work demands.