Does your brokerage lack an office space? Or is it just a tiny, four-cubicle room intended for emergency printing and filing? If that’s the case, you’re probably working from home when you’re not out and about, and it’s likely you’ve experienced multiple unnecessary distractions.
Designing a home office doesn’t have to be an HGTV-sized project. Start with the three basics: a desk, a chair and a computer.
1. Look for a clear, large workspace.
You don’t have to purchase a solid wood and oversized executive’s desk to enhance productivity. Even basic folding tables can be dressed up with a tablecloth or painted to add pizzazz.
If you want a real desk but it’s not in the budget, buy secondhand. Craigslist and garage sales are great sources for savings, but make sure what you purchase is structurally sound. In fact, aside from the piece itself, aesthetics like color and finish can be changed. Prioritize wood shape and quality over color.
Some people just prefer that brand-new feel, and Ikea is always an option for easy-to-transport, quick furniture solutions.
In terms of size, make sure there’s space for your computer and notebook. A lot of real estate professionals rely on electronic filing and note-taking applications, but having a paper pad for quick scribbles is never a bad idea.
Desktop filers and letter holders do wonders for organization. Otherwise, you’ll end up with overwhelming clutter strewn across your workspace.
Drawer space is obviously convenient. If you plan on having a separate unit underneath your desk, allow enough room to sit comfortably without knocking your knees.
Finally, don’t get picky about the height of your desk as long as it fits in your space. Desk height is standardized, and your chair can adjust as necessary.
2. Work comfortably with an ergonomic chair.
Modern, midcentury chairs are design-savvy, but not a comfortable option for extended periods of sitting. And although they may seem like the coziest option, avoid armchairs. Big, comfortable seats practically beg you to sit back and go to sleep. They are also not the best for your back, as you’ll spend more time leaning forward trying to reach the keyboard.
Instead, you’ll want an ergonomic office chair designed for upright support. It’s important to customize the specs to fit your body, so testing a few out before you commit is recommended.
First, make sure that while seated you can fit three or four fingers between the back of your knees and the front edge of the seat. Chairs that are too long might force you to lean forward, straining your legs and back. On the other hand, seats that are too short might cut off your circulation. Opt for an adjustable seat to err on the safe side.
The optimal chair height (usually adjustable) allows the feet to rest comfortably on the floor, thighs and forearms parallel with the ground below. Also consider lumbar support and armrests, which both provide an extra level of comfort. For more information on desk chair options, check out this infographic:
3. Pick your tech poison.
Are you more of a PC or Mac person? Try to be consistent for easy transfers. Many Android or Windows Phone users may already default to Microsoft products, and iPhone users to Macs, out of design preference.
Being loyal to a brand or platform isn’t a necessity, but uniformity takes out a lot of the guesswork out of transferring files, especially if you’re not a tech whiz.
Once you’ve decided on your operating system, consider laptops versus desktops. Obviously, laptops are more convenient for working on the fly. Nowadays, though, a tablet can easily replace a laptop — unless you’re regularly writing long-form articles or require constant access to development software.
Surface, for instance, has an attachable, portable keyboard. Alternatively, iPads have keyboards you can sync via Bluetooth.
If you really want to make your workspace impressive, look for interior design inspiration online. Better yet, snap or save a few photos of cool home offices while perusing the MLS.