Postgraduate Study

Five Tips On How To Set Up The Perfect Home Office

Working from home due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? We've put together some useful tips with advice from our current online students on how to set up a productive home office.

The chances are that in the last week or so, you’ve found yourself suddenly having to work or study from home – potentially for the first time in your life.

To get you up and running as quickly as possible with the minimum of stress, we’ve come to the rescue with five handy tips on how to set up a productive home office. Now that you’re studying or working completely online for several hours in a day, it’s important to set up an environment which will help you to deal with all of those extra emails, chat groups and Skype meetings.

Keep reading to find out why it’s so important to get some natural light in your new home office, plus discover how to establish boundaries with any fellow housemates you might have.


light and airy office space

1. Find somewhere with natural light

If you’re wondering where to place that shiny new Ikea desk, try and find some space for it near a window or skylight. This will ensure that you get plenty of natural light while you work, which in turn will do wonders for your productivity.

Studies have shown that exposure to natural light will greatly improve your physical and mental well-being. You’ll have less chance of suffering from things like headaches and eye-strain after working in front of your laptop all day.

Plus you’ll need some direct sunlight to keep all of those stylish desk plants looking green and healthy (see point number 5!).


2. Try to maximise privacy where possible

When you’re working from home, it can be hard to establish a quiet area that will give you space to concentrate. This is especially true if you share a house with a roommate, partner and/or children.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room in your home then this can come in very handy, especially if you’ll be holding regular Skype meetings. You can shut the door and minimise disruption when you’re trying to focus on those all-important conference calls.

However, if you’ll mainly be working in a communal area such as a kitchen or living room, it might be a good idea to establish some ground rules with your fellow housemates about how best to maximise privacy during working hours. Maybe having your headphones on means ‘do not disturb’? Or you could set up a calendar on the fridge marking times when you’ll be in webinars or important meetings during the week.

This can be handy both for your housemates and yourself too…

“For anyone else trying to handle multiple things at once, make sure to outline a schedule! It really is a big help.” 

Mark, MSc Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases



3. Establish a list of everything you will need

This might sound obvious, but once you start working from home there’s no immediate stationery cupboard or physical IT service to back you up.

Make sure you’ve made a comprehensive list of everything you will need for your home office, from files and notepads to docking stations and extension cables. You’ll appreciate it when you wake up on Monday morning, ready for work, and don’t have to spend two hours sourcing the right HDMI cable for your monitor.

home office set up


4. Decide whether you want an established work space or if you’d prefer to move around

This is really up to you and how you work best.

If you have the space and know that you’d prefer to work at the same desk every day then go for it! Having a routine which mirrors your old office dynamic each day can be very beneficial for some people.

However, if you’d like to keep things more relaxed then you could think about moving from room to room every few days. As long as you’re comfortable and able to get some quiet time, you should find that you’ll be able to concentrate at the dining table or on the sofa with relative ease. Working in different surroundings can really help some people to focus.

Whether you’re sitting at a desk or not, do make sure to give yourself regular breaks. Some of our current online students have realised the benefits of breaking up work and study with exercise and time outside. Nancy studied our MSc Equine Science while running a full-time thoroughbred farm:

“During Autumn season here in the midwest USA the trees change to vibrant colors. One windy day and all that color will blow away so I aim to ride my Welsh pony throughout the farm while it lasts.”

Nancy, MSc Equine Science



5. Think about some plant life

As well as making sure you have all the ‘essentials’ on hand, why not treat yourself to a desk plant or two?

Since 2014, studies from researchers across the globe have lauded the long-term effects of office plants. Having some greenery around can significantly increase your concentration levels, improve perceived air quality and overall satisfaction.

All of this means that you’ll be much more productive with some plants in the vicinity. And of course, your work space will be that much more Instagram-ready with a few succulents dotted around the place!


Related Links

Top 10 Study Tips for PhD and Masters students

Online Masters degrees in medicine and veterinary

Online Learning at the University of Edinburgh