More and more South Africans are working from home. Why then are home offices often the least-loved spaces in the house? A beautiful home office should be seen as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done and the hard work you’re going to do, says Beetroot Inc. founder, Elize van den Berg. Read on to find out how to turn your work-from-home space into a haven of productivity and creativity.
According to “The workplace revolution: a picture of flexible working 2017”, a survey by Regus, more than 70% of business people polled in South Africa expect to see an increase in demand for flexible work hours. Already, in 2017, 63% of business people reported that they were working remotely 2.5 days a week or more.
The Regus results reveal that globally more than half of their respondents believe there is a correlation between flexibility and productivity. Not surprisingly, businesses also reported that they were using more freelancers and consultants than before.
This is great news for many of us who would like more flexibility to work where and when it suits us, whether we’re mums who want to be at home with kids in the afternoons, retirees who wish to put in shorter hours but still need to earn an income, or millennials who are determined to balance life and work commitments.
More good news is that a home office comes with tax breaks. But according to online tax consultants at Tax Tim, “the taxpayer must have an area of their home, which is used exclusively for this purpose. For example, taxpayers who meet clients at their home in their dining room would not qualify. A separate office, which is used specifically for the taxpayer’s work, needs to be maintained in order to qualify for the deduction.”
That means you need a dedicated office space in your home. A shared study, a table in the sitting room, or one corner of the dining room table will not count. So what should you keep in mind when setting up a home office?
Elize van den Berg, of lifestyle retailer Beetroot Inc. says, “People often tuck their home office into an unused space that’s not good for anything else. This is a mistake – remember, when you work from home, this is where you’re going to spend a lot of time. It’s where you have to be creative and productive. It can’t be an afterthought in a dark corner or high-traffic area. Choose somewhere you’re going to love spending time. Make sure you have good lighting, a view if possible, sufficient plug points for your computer and printer etc… And if you will have clients visiting you, make sure there is space for an extra chair or sofa.”
“Another important point that people can forget about is connectivity. If you’re going to be working remotely, you will need excellent cell phone coverage and internet connectivity. These days, these are non-negotiables and are the most important factor in where you position your home office.”
Once you’ve decided on where your space will be, get busy on a décor scheme that will lift your heart whenever you enter this space, says Elize. “If you love colour, consider a bright wall to inspire alertness and focus. This work space is where you’re going to have bold and brave ideas – it’s where you’re going to make that money that will allow you to fulfil your dreams and purpose. If you prefer a neutral palette because you want a calm ambience, I’d still suggest injecting some energy with bright scatter cushions, coordinated files and desktop accessories. Even if you want peace and calm while you’re working, you still need to be alert – pops of colour really do help.”
Now to furnish your home office: Elize says the most important investment is your chair. Find one that is ergonomically comfortable and have it set up specifically for you. Next, choose your desk. You need to have everything easily at hand, but this doesn’t mean that it all has to be on the desk surface. If you have good storage solutions, you may find a smallish work top is all you need – this also encourages tidiness. So consider shelves that you can position near your desk top.
“If your work means you move from one work surface to another, consider something like our utility trolleys,” suggests Elize. “You can easily scoot them from one work station to another – they are so incredibly useful! I can’t do without mine, and have one in almost every room in my house.”
You’re unlikely to have space for an extra table for meetings, but you will need an area where you can meet with clients. A beautiful sofa and an appropriately sized coffee table is usually more than sufficient. “It can be very difficult to find the right size sofa in the right fabric, especially if space is tight,” says Elize. “Consider ordering a comfortable couch made specifically to your dimensions or, if you already have a sofa that will work, get it recovered to match your home-office décor scheme. At Beetroot Inc. we will make any of our furniture to your specific measurements. We’ll also reupholster well-loved items. And the fabric options allow one to really express oneself. No Beetroot Inc. sofa is the same!”
When it comes to choosing accessories, Elize says these should get as much thought as anything else. “An ugly plastic filing tray bought in a rush will be with you for your entire career – your heirs will probably inherit it one day! Rather save up to get something that is as beautiful as it is functional, an accessory you absolutely love, even if it’s just a pen holder.”
“The home office is the most important room in the house, yet often we treat it like the least important,” Elize concludes. “It should be functional, it should be practical, but most importantly it should be a place that reflects who you are and complements the work you do there. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if you are eager to spend time there. If that is the case, you will find the creativity spills over into everything you do and you will feel so much more fulfilled in life. See the money spent on getting your home office as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done and the hard work you’re going to do.”