It is becoming increasingly apparent that home offices are going to remain essential for a great many people for the foreseeable future. A few months ago, The Guardian reported on Boris Johnson’s guidance that people around the UK should be prepared to continue working from home at least until April if possible. Yet we also know that some companies are preparing to make work-from-home part of their long-term plans as well. Even after the pandemic, that is, some are going to continue to do much or all of their work from their home offices.
This should reframe how we think about home offices somewhat. In limited work-from-home time, it’s understandable to have set up a makeshift office, or even to have done the bulk of your work from a living room couch with a laptop. If you’re one of the many people considering working remotely for the foreseeable future though, it’s time to give real thought to how to spruce up a home space and design a true office for yourself. It takes some investment, but ultimately designing a comfortable room built for efficiency will go a long way toward making your remote work productive.
To that end we want to suggest five upgrades that can turn a spare room or bare-bones office into a more comfortable, strategic, and even luxurious space.
We’ve posted a piece before about ‘4 Sustainable Ways to Heat Your Home for a Cozy Autumn’, each of which can make for good control over home office temperature in the cooler seasons. But for the spring and summer seasons we’re coming up on, it’s worthwhile to consider installing a ceiling fan. Despite all the attention given to modernised temperature control options — like smart thermostats or blade-free tower fans — a high-quality, silent ceiling fan still gives you the ability to directly and efficiently cool the room to stay comfortable while working. Plus, it doubles as décor, and a good-looking home office is one that will be more appealing to work in. We won’t recommend a specific fan, because your choice should match your own office aesthetic. But brands like Westinghouse, AireRyder, and Lighthouse are all worth a look!
2. Purchase a Smart Assistant
Smart assistants (or more technically smart speakers) can seem somewhat gimmicky in certain cases. In everyday use, they’re often just-for-fun gadgets rather than useful utilities. In a modern home office though, a high-end smart speaker can actually save you valuable time and effort. With an Amazon Echo Studio, a Google Nest, an Apple HomePod, or anything similar, you can take full advantage of a virtual assistant for basic tasks. These can range from making calls, to taking down spoken notes, to adjusting the lighting or temperature in your room. So, while a smart assistant of this kind isn’t fully essential, it does up both the efficiency and luxury appeal of your home office.
Your desk chair is arguably the most important part of your home office, and while there are all sorts of options, you can’t go wrong with a well-made leather piece. These can be functional and ergonomic, but are also naturally attractive and comfortable, making for the perfect blend of attributes for the modern home office. Here too you have a lot of specific brands and chairs to choose between. West Elm has some lovely minimalistic desk chairs available in the UK. Tangent Office has particularly comfortable options (the Avior Tuscany Executive Leather Chair is notable). And Hudson Living is another interesting brand to look at. They provide some very classy leather office chairs of high quality, yet are also mentioned in Groupon’s sale guide as one of a handful of UK furniture companies offering sales early in 2021. Thus, you may be able to pick up a high-end luxury office chair at a discounted price.
One of the biggest purchases that’s necessary in piecing together a more effective and permanent home office space is a high-end computer monitor. Regardless of your actual computer (though compatibility will of course matter), a large, modern monitor will make it both easier and more pleasant to view your digital workload on an hour-to-hour basis. Particularly if you haven’t upgraded your monitor in some time, you may be stunned at just how much of a positive difference a new one makes. As for specifics, we’d recommend you start by taking a look at the Dell UltraSharp U272OQ, the LG UltraGear 38GN950, and, if you’re a Mac devotee, the rather sensational Apple Pro Display XDR. All of these are remarkable machines that will transform and modernise your home office all on their own.
To wrap up our list we’ll focus on something that has less to do with technology or physical comfort, and more to do with atmosphere. Simply put, an office designed for full-time work from home should have houseplants in it. These subtle, live decorations are proven to purify the air and boost people’s moods and by extension foster productivity, and they’re very easy to install and take care of. The Independent has done a nice job of presenting some specific options — like golden pothos, canopy plants, and the Forest Sansevieria moonshine. But ultimately you should follow your own taste and preferences to round out your modern home office with the plants that enhance the atmosphere to you.