Do you have a home office, craft room or other work-related room that you rarely use? Do you find yourself taking things from those rooms — bills, laptop computer, sewing, art supplies — and setting them up at the dining room table or in front of the TV? It might be maddening to other members of your family, who resent your supplies taking over their tables and living rooms when you “have a perfectly good office/craft room/etc. to work in.” But for whatever reason, you never work in those spaces.
Almost always it’s because the work room is lacking some key element that would make it a welcoming space. In fact, what I see missing from these spaces most often is good, natural lighting, a stable temperature and proximity to others.
Good, natural lighting comes from one place: windows. I have often seen home offices created out of rooms without any windows. People take leftover rooms in places like the basement or attic and try to turn these into offices. You will even see home offices carved out of walk-in closets or reach-in closets in magazines. It seems like a clever use of space on paper.
But we as humans are drawn to open, light-filled areas. We thrive surrounded by natural light, and studies have shown that we are more productive when we have a view of the outdoors. Those home offices created out of closet space and leftover rooms will be subconsciously shunned because they are lacking in natural light.
Another crucial, but often overlooked element in a good workspace is temperature. We can best concentrate in rooms that are a steady warm, but not too warm temperature. Most people will find themselves avoiding a room that is just a few degrees too warm or too cool without even knowing why. We want to be comfortable when we work, and being overly hot or overly cold sucks a lot of energy and attention from us.
What’s the best temperature for a room? That might be a different number for each person, but it is probably safe to say the average is between 68 and 73 degrees.
Finally, I often see work spaces neglected because the people for whom they are designed do not actually enjoy working in solitude. Many of us think it would be ideal to have a space that is just for us and our things, where we can spread out as much as we like. But if you tend to be a more social, extroverted person, you might come to dislike being shut up in a room by yourself. Some people work best in quiet spaces, but more extroverted types might find themselves being more productive when they can see or at least hear others.
That’s why we might find ourselves hauling our stuff to the busiest part of our homes and setting up our projects where everybody else is working and playing. It might be a nuisance to the others in your family, but you find a certain warmth and comfort in working close to others. For you, a separate home office or craft room is a waste of space.
If you realize you never use your home office or craft room, it’s not because you are lazy or a slob. It’s probably because something key is missing, and your inner self is refusing to set foot in that room until the situation is fixed. Your inner self knows how and where you do your best work, so listen to what it tells you about your work room.
Image of workspace with excellent nautral light courtesy of Little Luck Tree. Wouldn’t you love to have a workspace this warm and welcoming?