How to Optimise Your At-Home Workspace
Working from home might feel like the dream until you can't tell the difference between your bed and your work space. Whether you have a full-fledged home office or you're using the dining table as a temporary desk, there are many easy ways to elevate your space for productivity, as well as to create boundaries between your lives at home and work.
Whether it be adding a signature backdrop for Zoom meetings, or decluttering to allow the light to circulate better, we speak to some of Hong Kong's top interior designers for advice on how to quickly refresh and decorate your home office.
Nelson Chow of NCDA
Nelson Chow founded NC Design & Architecture Ltd (NCDA), which is recognised for their unique storytelling style of interior design. One of their most interesting designs was for Mrs Pound in Sheung Wan, which featured a James Bond-esque concealed door painted as if it were part of the wall. His company has won numerous awards over the years, including a Silver at the Hong Kong Design Awards in 2018.
- Ensure you invest in an ergonomic chair. Don’t forget to move around and stretch once in a while.
- Burning incense will create a calm and soothing space helping you to relax your body of any tension and focus your mind. There are also studies showing that incense smoke can reduce bacterial counts and purify the air, creating a healthier work environment. Choose an incense holder that is both great to look at and small enough to be tucked away when not in use.
- Be mindful that lighting at home may not be best suited for a working environment. Avoid fluorescent light as they may strain your eyes and have a table lamp which provides a soft ambient glow––something that gives good lighting to your Zoom conferences but again choose a fixture that is good to look at.
Ed Ng of AB Concept
Founded in 1999 by interior designer Ed Ng and architect Terence Ngan, AB Concept provides the full package. Ng's style is defined and consistent: elegance without losing a sense of creative energy, contemporary yet timeless. Their portfolio ranges from designing spaces at the K11 Musea, to the Four Seasons Hotel in London, to the Rosewood Hotel in Sanya.
- When setting up a video call spot, put your back toward the window, so that there is an abundance of natural light (but not harsh sunlight) on the screen.
- I define multiple working spaces at home for different tasks––for drawing and top task, I would do it on my dining table; for a Zoom meeting spot, I would set it in the sofa; and for my tablet drawing, I would set it up at the balcony. Multi-location working could at least get you moving task from task.
- If your work space is too far away from the kitchen, set up a beverage spot or some kind of dry pantry nearby. This is especially useful during lengthy video calls, when you may not be able to disappear from the camera for too long!
Founded in 1997, Steve Leung has expanded his business to include architecture, interior, and product design––taking over spaces everywhere from Kuala Lumpar to Malaysia. They have not forgotten their Hong Kong roots, designing popular spaces such as Hokkaidon to Ying Jee Club. His designs tell unique stories of the project with a contemporary touch, taking inspirations from Asian culture and arts; and his company has been acknowledged as one of the largest design practices in Asia and the World’s No.1 Residential Design Firm.
- Be smart and fully maximise your spatial layout: instead of having a lot of furniture, select only a few “smart” pieces that can have multiple functions. For example, you do not need an office desk to get your work done: a dining table with a wide surface would work just as well!
- Create your own signature backdrop. With the increased frequency of online meetings, it’s important to specify a specific corner in your house with a nice and professional backdrop. You can’t go wrong with a clean, white wall; a wallpaper in bright tones or your favourite paintings could also be good alternatives.
- Add some green elements to your house: enjoying a bespoke home garden can help sooth your nerves and your mind, especially in Hong Kong where it is difficult to have a full-fledged garden of your own.
Peggy Bels founded her interior design label in 2008 and has been based in Hong Kong ever since. Known for her clean and modern style, Bels has made her mark on residential spaces across Hong Kong, from Clear Water Bay to Bonham Strand.
- Work with natural light, If possible, move your desk near a window so that you can work with natural light. Multiply also the light source around your desk, adding some table lamps helps to create a warm atmosphere when the sun goes down.
- Tidy up your working space, make some space in your cabinets to store you work files, laptop, hide all of your cords. Clean your space each day and do your best to keep it organised. This can allow you to separate your work from your home life.
- Leave some empty space in your home to get the feeling of the larger open space and let the light circulate better. The lighting fixtures are also essential to add character to the space. Incorporate multiple points of light, use a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, and down-lights from false ceiling. Use the directional recessed spot light to bounce reflected light off walls and open out the space. Put all these lights on dimmer switches to allow for flexibility depending on the time of day, event, or mood.