Tag Archives: home office

Planning a Home Office? Check Out These Budget-Friendly Tips

Working from home has its perks. There’s the money saved from skipping the commute, and just think about all of that time you get back by avoiding crowded freeways or public transit during rush hour. As far as workplace attire goes, few employees would trade “work-from-home casual” for dress slacks.

But while working from home affords some new freedoms, it also creates new challenges. One of your biggest tasks is to create a productive, ergonomically correct workplace in your home without breaking the bank. If this sounds familiar, you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I set up a home office on a budget?”

Whether you’ve always worked from home as a freelancer or started during the pandemic, these expert tips will help you get started as you design your home office on a budget:

From finding the right location to choosing the ideal furniture, these tips will help you create your home office on a budget.

Strive for an ergonomically correct home office

Being home all day creates an unexpected obstacle: pain. Many workers find that transitioning from a well-equipped office to a makeshift setup at home leads to discomfort. That’s because many of them go from having a spacious desk, comfortable chair, and monitor and keyboard in their office building to working from a laptop in their living room.

If you suffer from neck pain or eye strain when working from home, you may be feeling the effects of poor ergonomics. Ergonomics, commonly known as the science of work, aims to optimize productivity and health in a workspace.

As a physical therapist with more than 25 years of experience, Karen Loesing, owner of The Ergonomic Expert, knows this issue all too well. Loesing’s company performs ergonomic assessments for businesses and home offices. Over the years, she has seen countless clients suffering from neck, back or other health issues due to poorly designed workspaces. But it doesn’t have to be that way, Loesing says.

“Having an ergonomically correct workstation enhances productivity and generally overall happiness at work.”

– Karen Loesing, owner of The Ergonomic Expert

There are relatively easy ways to transform an ergonomic nightmare into a well-functioning home office on a budget—even if you’re stationed at the kitchen table, she says. And the investment is worth it.

“Having an ergonomically correct workstation enhances productivity and generally overall happiness at work,” Loesing says. “For those who are able to designate a certain space in their home where they can work without distractions—maybe even a window with a view and the flexibility to work at your own pace—it has been proven this makes for a happier employee.”

Who doesn’t want to boost their health, productivity and happiness in one fell swoop?

Find the optimal location for your at-home workspace

When setting up a home office for remote work, location should be your first decision, says design consultant Linda Varone, author of “The Smarter Home Office.” Depending on your living situation, there may be an obvious answer, such as that spare room you’ve always thought could become an office space.

If you don’t have a dedicated office, don’t despair. While you design your home office on a budget, think creatively about where it can be.

Varone once visited a client’s home to help reconfigure her workspace. The client was running a business from a table in the hallway. “At the end of each workday, she had to pack everything up and store it in the closet in the guest room,” Varone says.

But as Varone learned, guests only stayed over two weeks a year, leaving the room empty the rest of the time. It hadn’t occurred to the business owner, but turning the guest room into a home office for most of the year was the perfect solution.

If you’re setting up a home office for remote work, picking the optimal location for your workspace should be your first step.

“There are some simple, simple ways that people can rethink their home office without a big investment and make that space really work for them,” Varone says.

In addition to using a guest room, a dining or living room can also function as a home office on a budget.

Establish the ideal setup for your workstation

Once you’ve decided on the room, determine the location for your workstation, Varone says. As you plan your home office, consider placing your desk or table near a window, allowing for natural light and an occasional glimpse of nature. Don’t face directly outside; instead, aim for a line of sight that’s perpendicular to the window, Varone says. That’s because, even on an overcast day, you’d be looking into too much bright light if you’re facing the window.

“What’s happening is your eyes are adjusting back and forth between the bright sunlight that you’re facing and the darker light of your computer screen,” Varone says. “And that ends up being really fatiguing for the eye.”

If you live with others, the biggest challenge will be privacy. Try to clearly define the boundaries of your “office” if you can, such as with an area rug, she says. Then ask your roommates or family members not to enter your space while you’re working, apart from an emergency.

When you're planning a home office, try to clearly define the boundaries of your workspace if you live with others.

If you use a multipurpose space, be sure to tidy everything up at the end of the day, Varone says. Taking the 10 minutes or so to clean up your “office” will reduce clutter. Ultimately, a clutter-free space can reduce your stress and boost your productivity.

“That also has a benefit of becoming a little ritual and helping you say, ‘All right, my workday is over,’” Varone says. “‘Now I can focus on my personal life.’”

Choose your furniture wisely

Now that you’ve found the perfect location for your home office on a budget, focus on finding the perfect work surface. Maybe it’s a traditional desk. Or it could be your dining room table or kitchen counter.

If you do need to buy a desk or chair, don’t feel like you need to spend a fortune. Try looking for a used office furniture store or liquidator in your area, Varone recommends. You could even try searching online marketplaces for a gently used model.

When planning a home office and considering your work surface, what matters most is the height.

The average desk is 29 inches high, Loesing says. This will likely accommodate someone who’s 5’8”, she acknowledges, but for everyone else? It will take some adjusting to make it fit for them.

That’s where your chair comes in. Most people don’t need a high-end office swivel chair to work comfortably. As long as you can adjust the height of your chair to fit you and your desk, you’ll have a comfortable setup.

It’s important to adjust the height of your chair to achieve a neutral position, Loesing says. If you don’t have the instructions from the manufacturer on how to adjust your model, try searching for videos online, she adds.

One more chair takeaway from Loesing?

“If you can’t spend a dime, at least get as comfortable as you can where you’re sitting, and sit all the way back in your chair,” Loesing says. “When you don’t sit so your back is against the backrest, you’re using your back muscles all day long instead of them being at rest.”

When you design your home office on a budget, make sure your chair and work surface allow you to get into a comfortable sitting position.

Adjust your furniture and equipment

As you continue planning a home office, you’ll likely find that your computer is your most important piece of equipment. But it can also lead to neck strain. Whether it’s a laptop or an external monitor, Loesing says screen placement is key. In fact, she says it’s the single most important feature to address—as well as the most commonly disregarded one.

While you plan your home office, Loesing recommends keeping the following ergonomic guidelines in mind to help avoid neck strain:

  • Align your monitor so your eyes are level with the screen. (That’s typically about 4” from the top of the monitor.)
  • Place your feet flat on the floor and your knees at about a 90-degree angle with the ground.
  • Place your arms at about a 90-degree angle from the writing surface so your shoulders are relaxed.

If you only have a laptop, and no monitor, you still have options for raising your screen to eye-level. “There are budget-friendly laptop risers on the market,” Loesing says. “If you don’t want to spend any money, you can place books or reams of paper to bring the screen up to eye level.”

When setting up a home office for remote work and thinking about your arm placement, note that Varone is a strong advocate for an external keyboard. If you’re working at a desk that has a keyboard tray built into it, that’s a great way to keep your arms at about a 90-degree angle, she says. If you don’t have a built-in tray, she says you can improvise by placing your keyboard on an inexpensive laptop table situated directly under your desk.

While the exact adjustments will vary depending on your equipment, height and budget, the focus is on acquiring a neutral position or a position where there’s no strain on anything, Loesing says.

“With the addition of standing desks, which encourage movement, employees often find they have significantly more energy at the end of the day.”

– Karen Loesing, owner of The Ergonomic Expert

Stand if it suits you

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a standing desk, you’re not alone. Standing desk sales have soared over the last decade, buoyed by reports of the dangers of too much sitting.

“Static postures (e.g., sitting all day in front of a computer) present more fatigue than dynamic working,” Loesing says. “With the addition of standing desks, which encourage movement, employees often find they have significantly more energy at the end of the day.”

You don’t have to buy an official standing desk to reap the benefits when planning a home office. “The least expensive way would be to take a laptop and place it up high on a built-in high counter using a compact wireless keyboard and mouse,” Loesing says.

Even if you don’t have a standing desk—makeshift or otherwise—you can still incorporate movement and circulation into your workday. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and stretch every 20 minutes, Loesing suggests.

For an even better boost, combine this with a popular guideline known as the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a break by looking out a window at something at least 20 feet away, and do so for at least 20 seconds.

Don’t forget the ambience and accessories

Your desk, chair and computer are the major players when you’re setting up a home office for remote work. But there are a few additional items to consider, like lighting, plants and sound.

Setting up a home office for remote work should include some thinking around ambiance, like lighting, plants and sound.

Your overhead light fixture likely isn’t enough, as it will create shadows and can be too weak by the time it reaches your workspace, Varone says. She recommends investing in a table lamp that creates a wider spread of light in your area. Pick one with a translucent shade that will softly diffuse the light and make it easier on your eyes.

As you’re planning your home office, Varone also recommends incorporating a potted plant or flower into your workspace. Not only can it help purify the air and boost your mood, a natural element can contribute to a restful atmosphere.

Working from home means working with home noises—especially if you’re in an environment with roommates, a partner or little ones. To keep the noise down, consider noise-canceling headphones for a quieter workspace and clearer meetings. Other budget-friendly options? Try placing a towel under the door to block out noise from other rooms, Loesing says. Consider curtains instead of blinds, since they’re better at blocking out sound. Even pillows or large cushions can help reduce noise, she adds.

After you’ve taken care of the essentials and if you have the space and money, think about adding a reading chair to your home office. You can use this as a space to review documents or do some deep thinking, Varone says. It can be a welcome respite from your desk while keeping you in the office area, she adds.

When planning a home office, think about adding a reading chair to your space.

One last tip? Add a personal touch, whether it’s a framed family photo or a souvenir from your travels. It’s your home office, after all. Let your personality shine.

Set up a home office for remote work that allows you to thrive

Now that you know how to create a home office on a budget, you’re ready to make a space that works well for you. Whether you’re an experienced remote worker or a newbie, you can apply these expert tips to set up an office that’s functional and keeps you motivated day in and day out.

Ready to break in your new home office? Keep that motivation going by learning how to increase your earning potential this year.

The post Planning a Home Office? Check Out These Budget-Friendly Tips appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

Tips And Services To Help Your Bookkeeping Go Paperless

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t a catalyst to shift businesses toward digital transformation, it merely sped up the process. Businesses needed to scramble to move much of their operations online so workers could efficiently collaborate with each other and maintain business continuity during a difficult time.

Fortunately, departments not traditionally associated with the digital universe, like Bookkeeping, had an easier time adapting thanks to online services like Bookstime.com, a provider of digital bookkeeping tools with unique experience in difficult areas like sales tax automation, health benefits administration, and more.

Advantages of digital bookkeeping

Keeping track of every business transaction is among the most important and perhaps underappreciated tasks. Failure to keep track of transactions in a professional manner can result in a business owner making wrong decisions because they have inaccurate information.

Even worse, they might think they end the year with a profit but in reality, a bunch of small bookkeeping mistakes over several months means the business owner really lost money.

A shift to a digital platform eliminates these concerns. Online digital platforms make use of the most up-to-date accounting automation software that erases nearly every careless mistake. This is especially useful for a business owner who does the tedious but necessary job of bookkeeping themselves to save money. The more time a business owner spends on ancillary tasks, the less time they have to generate revenue and keep clients happy.

Some of the other advantages associated with going online include:

  • Eliminating clutter: keeping a clean home office is challenging enough but a digital platform means more space for higher priority files.
  • Save time: A digital bookkeeping platform is always available online with a few short clicks of the mouse. It can be accessed as needed and when needed in a few short seconds.
  • Environmental benefits: It isn’t unusual for a company to use at least 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Shifting resources online may seem like a small benefit but everyone has a responsibility to do a little bit more to protect our environment.

Case in point: Fill in a W-4

Every business owner is happy to hire new workers because it means they are expected to provide value to the company above and beyond their salary. But that doesn’t mean that the formal process is enjoyable.

One of the more undesirable parts of the hiring process is the pesky W-4 form that every employer has to ensure is properly filled in before a worker’s first day. Simply put, the W-4 form confirms how much income tax a worker wants to have withheld from their recurring paychecks. Under-withholding taxes means a worker will likely experience a shock come tax season as they owe money to the government. Over-withholding taxes means a worker is paying the government too much money and has to wait for a refund.

Digital bookkeeping can help simplify this process so you're less prone to errors. When other people’s finances are at stake, small careless mistakes could impact a worker’s desire to give the business owner 100% of their focus.

Businesses that shifted their bookkeeping process online to better navigate through the pandemic quickly realized this was a move that should have been done years ago. The advantages of having access to a clean and organized online tool far outweigh the costs.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

A Cozy New Rug Collection

Hello friends! Praise be, the election is over and I just marked my birthday over the weekend – my official holiday season milestone. Whenever the calendar passes November 8, I feel like I can finally turn 100% of my attention to all things holiday. Obviously, the holidays are going to look and feel very different than years past. Perhaps instead of the holiday season, we should start referring to the next few months as the hunker down season. Because that’s what holidays in the time of Covid are going to require of us. But I’m not entirely mad about the idea of holing up at home. I’ll take a very valid excuse to look for ways to make my home as cozy, comforting, and beautiful as possible.

Enter the new rug collection from Beni Rugs, designed by my style soul twin, Colin King.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

Called the Shape of Color, this new rug collection offers eleven Moroccan style rugs. Each rug features shocks of color inspired by Tangier and Marrakech. The hues are deeply saturated in simple geometric shapes or big bold stripes.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

While I typically eschew color, rugs are a wonderful spot to inject something fresh into a room. I used a bold colored rug in my own living room. The particularly nice thing about a rug – it’s an easy way to reenergize a space without really having to change anything else.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

There are a few secrets to picking out a rug. First, you want to think about size. A common mistake is getting a rug that is too small. You want all (or nearly all) your furniture in a space to sit on your rug. That helps a room feel anchored and like everything is working together. A too-small rug will actually make a small space feel even smaller!

Next, you want to think about foot traffic. If you’re looking to put a rug in a high foot traffic area, you’ll want to ensure any rug you select will withstand an onslaught of dirt and use.

Finally, when adding a colorful rug to your space you don’t need to “match your decor. You just want to keep everything in the same design family. Do you decorate with mostly warm colors or cooler tones? That will help you pick your colors.



 

If you’re looking to upgrade the coziness of your home before the holidays hit, I definitely think one of these rugs would be a great way to do it. I’m already debating which one I might add to our house. I do have a home office refresh in the works! If I pick out one of these rugs – I’ll be sure to share.

How are you planning on sprucing up your spaces for the holidays?

images c/o beni rugs

The post A Cozy New Rug Collection appeared first on Apartment34.

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Source: apartment34.com

It’s a Shake-Up! These 10 Drastically Different Design Trends Will Be Everywhere in 2021—and Beyond

2021 design trendsInterior Obsession/Houzz

We’re finally closing the book on 2020, and many of us have never felt more desperate for a fresh start and a new beginning. And since it’s not like we’re leaving the house anytime soon, it makes perfect sense that the first place to start anew would be at home. (Plus, decorating and home renovation projects are a pretty good distraction from ever-present existential dread, if we do say so ourselves.)

If you’re looking to do a design overhaul, you’re probably also looking for some inspiration—so we asked real estate and design experts to weigh in on what they anticipate will be the biggest home trends of 2021. It turns out, with all the stress that 2020 brought to our lives, it also influenced some defining changes in the way we decorate, design, and live in our homes.

So get cozy on your sunken-in couch cushion—you know, the one you’ve barely left since March 14—and join along for some inspiration as we prepare for the new year.

1. Dedicated home offices

Photo by Gina Sims Designs 

We can probably all admit: Working from the kitchen table was kind of cute when you thought you would be doing it for only a few weeks. But now? Not so much. That’s why, in 2021 (and beyond) home offices will be more important than ever.

“One of the most prevalent design trends currently is adding or renovating home offices. People are working from home and do not want to field calls from the kitchen table,” says Simon Isaacs, owner/broker of Simon Isaacs Real Estate.

If you don’t have a spare room for an office, there are plenty of ways to get creative and set up a space with some personality. In fact, one of the biggest trends on Pinterest this year is the rise of the “cloffice,” a portmanteau of “closet” and “office.”

“I’ve seen clients transform hall closets into amazing offices with high-gloss paint, some wallpaper, and a few shelves,” Isaacs says. “A can of paint can go a long way.”

2. Clearly delineated spaces

Photo by Nicholas Design Collaborative 

It’s quaint to think back on our obsession with open floor plans. They’re not completely passé (yet), but people are increasingly interested in closing off those wide-open spaces we so used to covet.

“The pandemic has completely shaped home design trends for 2020 and 2021,” Isaacs says. “Not only do people want to create a cozy shared living space, but they also are carving out areas to have some space to themselves.”

“The trend will be to create different living spaces within the open floor plan so people will have pockets or nooks in the home for e-learning, Zoom calls, a conversation, lounging, exercising, etc.,” adds Julie Busby, founder of the Busby Group at Compass in Chicago.

The need for separate spaces is also shifting home buyers’ priorities in the new year.

“New buyers are asking for homes with more separation, as sometimes multigenerational families share a home and need space and privacy amongst themselves,” says Yorgos Tsibiridis, a Hamptons broker at Douglas Elliman.

3. Houseplants and indoor gardens

Photo by Chris Barrett Design 

“During the pandemic when it was difficult for some to get their daily dose of nature, people started bringing the outdoors in with natural materials in their home,” Busby says.

With the pandemic raging on, the pros say the indoor houseplant trend is here to stay—which is good news for your collection of monsteras and air plants.

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Watch: Exclusive: Lindsay Dean of Frills and Drills Dishes on DIY

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“For houseplants, definitely do your homework before investing,” she says. “Take into account your natural light, exposures, and how much you will remember to water.”

4. Rattan accents

Photo by studio three beau 

In line with the houseplant trend, natural materials are having a “huge moment,” Busby says. In particular, rattan is the material du jour, appearing everywhere from drink holders to bed frames.

Try out the trend by choosing a rattan accessory or accent piece that you love; just don’t go overboard.

“Rattan is best in small doses, so pick your favorite piece and work from there,” Busby suggests.

5. Wood-grain kitchen cabinets and counters

Photo by Buckminster Green LLC 

Organic touches are also sprouting up in the heart of the home: the kitchen.

“For the kitchen, our designer members are seeing more minimalist styles with touches of organic and natural materials such as wood grain—perhaps as part of a desire to connect with nature,” says Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

Instead of painted kitchen cabinets or the ubiquitous all-white kitchen, expect to see homeowners embracing a more natural look with wood-grain cabinets and wood countertops on islands.

6. Next-level playgrounds

Photo by RVM Construction Inc.

Speaking of connecting with nature, 2020 has taken our cabin fever to record levels. Experts say enhanced outdoor spaces will continue to trend in the new year—including elaborate custom playgrounds, which Isaacs says are one of the hottest trends he’s seeing right now in South Florida.

To create the ultimate kids’ club, homeowners are even going beyond store-bought swingsets and adding zip lines, adventure courses, and climbing walls to their backyard playgrounds.

7. Outdoor kitchens

Photo by E2 Homes 

Multiseason spaces that feature “fireplaces or fire pits, patio/deck areas, or screened-in porches that can be used year-round” are on the rise, Darcy says. That includes outdoor kitchens, which have become more popular than ever during the pandemic.

An outdoor kitchen can be as elaborate (read: expensive) or as modest as you like. Some homeowners may simply add an outdoor refrigerator and dining area to the backyard to create an expanded entertaining space. Others will invest in a stovetop, ample counter space, and appliances to create a fully equipped outdoor kitchen.

8. Smart bathroom innovations

Photo by Change Your Bathroom, Inc. 

We won’t soon forget the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, when grocery shelves were cleared of Charmin and bidets sold out at home improvement stores.

Never embraced the bidet in your home bathroom? Well, hold on to your butts: That’s just the start of things—you can expect to see a slew of new bathroom innovations in 2021 as homeowners continue to focus more than ever on hygiene (and perhaps prepare for the next Great Toilet Paper Shortage).

“Touchless appliances, including motion sensors for lighting, and smart temperature control for bathroom floors will be more popular in the next year,” Darcy says.

9. Retro furniture and color palettes

Photo by Elad Gonen 

The pandemic brought on a serious wave of nostalgia for people seeking comfort from the past, and Busby says that wistfulness will influence our home decor in 2021.

Expect to see funky color palettes (think mauve, forest green, and burnt orange) and furniture throwbacks like ’80s curves and ’90s traditionalism.

“I think people are nostalgic for simpler times, and we are seeing this desire reflected back in home design,” Busby says.

An easy way to try the trend for yourself is with a quick coat of paint.

“Pick a bold color and one wall, or a smaller bathroom, and paint your way back to the ’80s or ’90s,” Busby says.

10. Cozy, layered vibes

Photo by Urbanology Designs

“Overall, the design pendulum is swinging to be more traditional,” Busby says.

That means warm colors and natural wood in lieu of cool grays and blues. Instead of stark white minimalism, expect to see more color and personality in 2021’s home decor—less uber-modern and more boho chic.

So go ahead and pile on those mismatched blankets and throw pillows, and don’t be afraid to embrace a design that reflects your personality.

“People want to feel at ease in their homes now more than ever,” she says. “Before the pandemic, people may have put form before function to create the out-of-a-magazine look for their living room. Trends now lean toward a more casual and layered aesthetic.”

The post It’s a Shake-Up! These 10 Drastically Different Design Trends Will Be Everywhere in 2021—and Beyond appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Back to School: Home Office Essentials

Back to school season is in full swing, and that means your kids will be coming home with more and more homework. They will need a productive space to study, and your home office can be a good option. But the office may need a few essentials before it’s ready for the school year.

Get Good Lighting

Studying in the dark can strain your eyes or put you to sleep. To avoid the likelihood of snoozing during study time, you’ll want to have adequate lighting. Add a small desk lamp, a floor lamp, or a brighter bulb in your overhead lighting.

Create Comfort

Your kids will ideally spend a lot of time studying in the office. Make it comfortable. Invest in a good chair or a lumbar support cushion.

Keep Supplies Within Reach

Your kids may need pens, pencils, paper clips, glue sticks, and all of the things on their long back to school shopping list. Try to fit the necessary supplies in arms reach. Set up pencil holders on the desk surface, or dedicate a drawer to school supplies. If they can simply grab what they need, they’ll be likely to save time and stay on track.

Be Organized

People are more productive when they work in an organized space. So instead of throwing supplies and papers anywhere, make sure everything has a place. Invest in folders, binders, and a file cabinet (and make sure the entire family uses them).

Decorate

Creative work is done best in a visually pleasing space, so don’t skimp when it comes to interior design. Personalize the space and make it one where your family actually enjoys spending time.

Get your home office in shape. Your entire family may be more productive as a result.

The post Back to School: Home Office Essentials first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com