Post by Scarlett de Courcier, contributing Women On Business writer
It’s everyone’s dream: getting up after the sun rather than with it, slumping on a sofa with a cup of coffee, and not standing up again until lunchtime. Which is, of course, dictated by you, not the boss. Because in home working, there is no boss but yourself. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Where to start? How to succeed? What are the primary principles of a properly-run home office? In my first few posts, I’ll be looking at what makes a comfortable home office and a successful home business.
Working from home has become increasingly popular now that the Internet has grown to such a monstrous degree that many of us are now either employed or self-employed to spend most of our time on it. If, like me, a large proportion of your working day is spent sitting in your home office, you will know how important it is to be comfortable – but not too comfortable. Thus we arrive at the problem of home office furnishings.
Step One: The Office Chair
Arguably the most important element of an efficient home office is a good, solid chair. It may even be more important than the desk it accompanies. Chairs have that wonderful quality of being able to effect a mood in the sitter: a good sofa makes you want to fall asleep; a good armchair makes you want to curl up and read; a good chaise lounge makes you want to lie down and spill your inner troubles. What, though, of the humble office chair? Is its quality really linked to the level of productivity achieved in it? Does the fact that it is leather, wicker, or fabric make a difference?
“The large executive chair elevates the sitter, and it is covered with the skin of some animal, preferably your predecessor.” Thus believed Emilio Ambasz, anyway. If the grand proportion of your working day is spent sitting in your home office, you will know how important it is to be comfortable – but not too comfortable.
A leather chair can provide a good, solid companion for work. It makes that satisfying squeaky noise when you sit in it; it gives you the ‘executive feeling’; and it isn’t so soft that you sink deep into it and begin dozing off mid-email. There is, however, the annoying problem of sticking to it in the summer, and being frozen by it in the winter.
To combat the temperature-sensitive-legs problem, we have the wonderful invention of the fabric-covered chair. These are generally formed of a base of plastic, with fabric molded over the top to roughly the shape of a back. Considering that the spine is one of those ultimately important body parts that is far too often forgotten in day-to-day working life, the least we can do is take it into consideration when choosing an office chair. Fabric-covered chairs are forgiving enough to allow you room to move; and, ideally, they move with you and give you the support your spine needs when sitting in one position for large amounts of time.
The more I get to know other homeworking ladies, however, the more I realize that the majority of us have very strong ideas of personal taste, and aren’t going to settle for the latest in churned-out factory copies from the nearest furniture store. For all you amateur designers, therefore, I recommend your local charity shop. Character and individuality guaranteed – probably slightly more so than you were hoping for, in fact – and who knows? You may even pick up a bargain.
For my home office, I followed my own advice and bought a wicker chair from a children’s trust shop nearby. Having noticed it in the window, I realized it would look beautiful in my study; and, whilst this is not always the best method when choosing furniture for practical reasons, there is no real reason why the two cannot go hand in hand. My own chair has a large, straight back with little room for maneuver, so I remain upright whilst working and can resist the urge to slouch over the computer screen. Adding a couple of cushions made the general rigidity easier to bear, and had the added advantage of ensuring it matched the rest of the furniture.
The choosing of a chair is a delicate procedure not to be taken lightly, and one in which your individual needs and preferences should be paramount. The most important thing is that you are comfortable enough to work in your home office, but not so comfortable that you forget the ‘office’ part.