How to turn your office space into a home away from home

If you're spending more hours in the office than out of it, you might as well make it comfortable and an enjoyable place to spend your time. Whether that's your working-from-home office or your small business office, it IS possible to create a homely feeling while you work...

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Although the office is a place to work, it doesn’t mean it has to be cold and unwelcoming. Many companies are now seeing the benefits of making the work environment more comfortable for their employees and are thus attempting to make offices feel more like a home away from home. If you are working in your own home office, you can still make subtle changes to ensure it feels comfy and welcoming but just as useful for your business activities.

If you are the type of person that always seems to be in the office working, then you most likely see your office as often as you see your living space. However, although the office might be somewhere you spend a lot of time, it might not feel particularly homely. How can you change up your work environment to make it more inviting?

Let’s take a look at how to turn your office – whether at home or as part of your business – into a home away from home.

Change Up the Furniture

Most offices are cold environments with lots of metal, white and chrome. If you want your office to feel more homely, consider changing the furniture. Use softer furnishings like fabric-covered seating to make it feel more comfy and don’t be afraid to change the desk to something more tactile as well.

You could choose natural materials for your storage, shelving and desk such as wood or sustainable bamboo. Look for desks with a natural wood finish and interesting table legs to help them stand out. If you’re a small business owner, you can even let your employees have their own style of desk so that they feel part of the office environment.

I DIYed this desk myself using an old drawer and new mid-century-style legs

Suitable flooring

Although you might choose real wood or carpet for a cosy office space within your own home, if you’re working on a business where you’ll be doing messy activities or need to easily roll around on an office chair, you’ll probably need to consider a more practical flooring choice.

For example, resin flooring is durable enough to last for years of daily business use and easily be cleaned down at the end of the working day, no matter how messy it gets during the manufacturing process if you’re using paint, foodstuffs, craft supplies etc. Plus, having a smooth surface in your office will mean it’s extra easy to pull out any storage trolleys or office chairs.

Create a Relaxing Zone

Sometimes you just need to take a few minutes during the working day to relax and unwind. If you have a rest area in your workplace, try to make it feel as comfortable as possible. Cold plastic chairs and plain tables won’t make you feel relaxed and just means you won’t feel rested or ready to go back to work.

Try changing it up a bit by adding comfy sofas and some rugs to add a little bit of comfort to the room. Try adding some real plants so you get a splash of natural colour – and don’t forget to water them or they will just look sad! Plants and flowers have been shown to reduce stress and improve concentration so they’re a great addition around the office.

Although it might be tempting, don’t take any work calls or hold any informal meetings in this space. This needs to be a chill zone where you can feel relaxed.

I created this coffee table from pallet wood and roller wheels

Relax in the Meeting Room

Ok, so you don’t want people to fall asleep in the meetings, but sitting in a sterile room can also make people feel trapped and unnatural. If you have a meeting room in your independent business, you don’t need to have everyone sitting around one big desk – you can split up the seating area and introduce comfier chairs.

BUT try not to use this area for relaxation, you should ideally have a separate room for this. It’s key to get a balance between making people feel relaxed and creative, but still making sure that the meetings feel important.

I revamped these old office chairs with vinyl spray paint

Refurbish the Kitchen

When you’ve got employees, hygiene is of utmost importance in the kitchen area – but it shouldn’t be too clinical and bare. Try to add some comfy elements such as natural wooden tables and soften the colours on the walls. This will go a long way to helping people enjoy their lunch break instead of feeling stressed.

Also, see if you can replace those overhead fluorescent lights with something a bit softer and easier on the eye. Add some lamps or drop lights over the tables so it feels homely and more like a place you want to be. And be sure to provide tea- and coffee-making facilities to keep everyone going!

I hope these suggestions will help you to create a working environment that you (and your colleagues) will want to spend time in. Let’s face it, if you’re feeling relaxed, this will certainly help you to feel that work is enjoyable and it can help you and your co-workers to be more creative too. Let me know how you’ve enhanced your working environment – at home or in your day-job office – to improve the space in the comments below. I’d love to hear your tips for creating an office that feels like a home away from home.

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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