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Hidden Office - NOOK Design
Partnership
Interiors
March 2021
Reading time 10 minutes

The experts at NOOK Design talk us through everything you need to consider when planning a home working space

In the early days of the first lockdown, it seemed that home working was the solution to all our problems. No commute, no expensive lunch (or grimy office kitchen) and, best of all, no dress code (surely one of the great joys of working from home, whether you’re in pyjamas or high-end loungewear).

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However, working from home comes with challenges too. Balancing your laptop on your knee with papers strewn across the floor is okay for a while, but sooner or later you need to make sure you have a proper work space, both for organisational purposes, and for your own peace of mind (it’s important to be able to switch off at the end of the day, and sitting at your kitchen table staring at your work notes won’t help with that). There’s also the matter of children (and/or pets) demanding attention, and sapping productivity as they do. 

For many people, the biggest challenge is finding the right place to work. If your designated workplace is uninviting, small or impractical, it will immediately take the morning spring out of your step.
We’ve spoken to the experts at NOOK Design to look at some of the problems you might encounter when setting up your perfect home workspace, and come up with a few NOOK solutions that can up your home office productivity, and help you keep that all-important work/life balance… 

10 things to consider when planning a home working space

Bedroom Medburn Office

Desk Space

Most of us need little more than a laptop-sized desk surface. Creating a workspace doesn’t require a whole lot of room, although a dedicated home office/study in a spare bedroom or unused dining room is certainly a great advantage. You might find an unused corner of the hallway or under the stairs, a walk-in wardrobe, an empty alcove next to the fireplace, an awkward space behind a door, or perhaps the upstairs landing. These could become the perfect spot for a small, discreet home office.

Simple wall-mounted desk

Light

Unfortunately, the unused corners of your home are often also the dark corners, but a well-lit workspace is a must. Perhaps your desk can switch places with a piece of furniture that already faces or backs onto a window? If possible, do position your work area near a window. Decide if you want to face the window (some people find this distracting, but others find it helps creativity). If you decide to put the window behind you, natural light over your shoulders will certainly brighten work time. A folding desk under a window, which can be folded away when not in use, is a good use of space. Importantly, make sure you have more than one light source, including a good desk lamp, and maybe some indirect lighting too (this could even be built in to any storage shelves).

Hairpin desk

Privacy

While a closed door is no guarantee of peace and quiet, it certainly helps. If that isn’t possible, improvise with room dividers. Shelves can double as office storage, large potted plants will improve your office air quality, or, for an extremely flexible option, choose a translucent folding screen. Noise-cancelling headphones are a godsend in busy surroundings.

Browns desk space

Storage

If space is an issue, what you lack in square footage, you can make up for by going high, with shelves and cupboards all the way to the ceiling and trays at eye level to augment a small desk. Make sure you have at least one ‘messy drawer’ where you can fling anything that is in your way, but everything else should go into well-organised folders, files or a desk tidy. A clear desk policy is both a productivity booster and a great way to minimise the inevitable distractions of working in your own home. You’ll also be glad of a neat desk when it comes to video calls! In any event, some sort of storage, a bookcase or filing system is almost always a necessity.

Garden office

The Separation of Work and Home

In order to switch off after a long day at the (home) office, it’s essential to create some separation between your living and working spaces. If you can’t do so spatially, then do it visually. Make your office disappear behind a sliding screen or by creating your workspace under your staircase and fitting doors which you can shut at the end of the day. If the only space you have to work is in your bedroom, try to make it blend in, so it’s not as obvious and conspicuous, or hide the desk totally within your fitted wardrobes.
In a perfect world, you could create a whole new room by converting a spare bedroom into a cool home office, or even convert a little-used garage (the car won’t fit in it anyway) into an exciting new living space, which adds value to your home as well.
Alternatively, if you do not have the space to free up inside, you can opt to add an outbuilding to create a garden office. The good news is that if you want to construct a small garden office, planning permission is not normally required, and building regulations will not normally apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres.

Sockets

Sockets

We find a lot of people forget about the electrical requirements needed for a home office. When you consider that you probably need to power a computer, a printer, phone charger, a lamp, and maybe a shredder or landline phone, you will need at least a double socket very close to the desk/office space.

Jessica Arends Unsplash

Creating a Routine

Working from home has loads of perks, but it’s so easy to get off track and spend your day catching up on household chores rather than actually getting career-work done. To help give structure to your day, create a routine for yourself. Decide what time you want to be sitting down checking emails and getting started on your work, and stick to it. Write a list of to-dos and an allotted amount of time for each task. Jobs around the house still have to get done, but these should be before or after your allotted work time.

Sincerely Media Unsplash

Learning When to Unplug

One of the downsides of working from home is you never ‘go home’ because… you are already there. This can make it hard to know when to shut down the laptop and stop looking at emails. Being plugged in 24/7 is really hard on a person, so make yourself a schedule where you unplug at a certain time and stick to it.

Unsplash

Planning Your Personal Errands

If you work from home, take advantage of a more flexible schedule when planning errands and appointments which need you to leave the house. Use a whole afternoon to do these each week so that you’re not coming and going, having to get into different mind zones every day.

Brooke Lark Unsplash

Eating Away from Your Desk

Eating in front of your desk is extra tempting when you’re at home, but give your day more structure by moving away from your desk for lunch. Eat outside or a different place in your home, but break it up.

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