A Thought Piece by James Balmond; Creative Director of Balmond Studio & Azara Jaleel; Editor-In-Chief of ARTRA Magazine

Covid-19 has altered the existential and societal landscape forever. Its reach and consequences have been undeniable. Ultimately, how one interprets the pandemic boils down to a matter of perspective. Yes, there have been negatives, but one cannot ignore the positive change birthed from adversity. We have been forced to re-examine and redefine our relationships with both private and public space. In brainwaves of creativity, we are finding new ways to obtain more from our surroundings on multiple levels of which the home office is a very tangible reference, which in fact gives us the opportunity to create a work space that is conducive to our own mental wellbeing, even better than that of the conventional, monotonous office structures and layouts. As we explore the contingencies of the concept of home offices, we re-comprehend the integral components and physiognomies of the human need and space, in its essence, of living.

Location is key

It would be easy to rush into your list of home office elements. However we need to take a step back and look at the space itself. To work to the best of our ability, we need to be comfortable, focused and energised. To obtain these physical and emotional states, certain environmental elements and conditions need to be aligned. Choose a space with plenty of natural light, a moderate internal temperature and ample ventilation. All these factors are key when it comes to augmenting comfort and concentration. Think about privacy and noise reduction as well. There’s no point setting up a home office in a space with a high volume of foot traffic and disturbance. This limits concentration and by default productivity and efficiency. Find a quiet and partially (if not fully) secluded space where you can have singularity of focus.

Lay out your office plan

Now that you have a chosen home office space, the next thing to consider is layout. Don’t worry; this doesn’t have to be some Herculean task. Essentially you are simply mapping out some basic practical positioning for your furniture. It’s a good idea to start with your larger pieces such as your desk, chair and storage options. Once you have found a place for these, you can integrate smaller details and features into the layout. Your principal workstation should be the main focal point. Ensure that there’s both ample space and easy access around your core work area.

Don’t think in terms of items. Think in terms of outcome.

When it comes to choosing all your office must haves, it’s tempting to just focus on the items themselves. With this approach one can become lost in the temple of technology or the minutia of stationary. It’s not about the item itself, but rather the outcome. In other words what beneficial value does the item possess? We have created three organisational parameters to help you define your list of office must haves – functionality, comfort, and mental wellbeing.


At the end of the day, the majority of your items should facilitate the working process itself; meaning each item serves a purpose within a set of work-based needs.


For most people the desk (or similar flat surface) is a home office fundamental. Not only does it spatially ground and position the individual, it also provides your key engagement zone. This is the place where you keep your essential work tools within close proximity – the hub of your processes and activity.

Ergonomic and comfortable office chair

If the desk is your fundamental work zone, your chair is the fundamental object that determines your physical body state. Therefore comfort is everything. A proper chair should enhance your posture, maintaining blood circulation and a beneficial muscular state. If you are uncomfortable, or if your chair puts you in an unnatural position, you could experience joint pain, muscle inflammation and loss of circulation – all of these will have a negative impact on your work performance. Pick performance over aesthetics when it comes to your office chair.

Desk lamp and general lighting

It is fairly obvious, however the importance of sufficient lighting cannot be underestimated. The right lighting helps concentration, energy levels and cerebral focus. It also negates the potential overworking of the eyes that can lead to headaches and lower productivity levels. Keep things bright where possible, and perhaps incorporate some dimmers if you want lighting customisation possibilities.

Inspiration & Incentive

Works of Art

Art, like nature, is significant in its ability to transport individuals to an alternative mental plane — an experience often termed as ‘awe’, or “experiencing perceptual vastness: the sense that one has come upon something immense in size, number, scope, ability, or social bearing.” When people experience awe, it can significantly lower levels of inflammation, according to studies that can lead to chronic illnesses including depression, and cardiovascular disease. It can also kindle a more efficient processing of information, allowing individuals to feel less rushed and more patient.

Sometimes it’s easy to become lost in the work vortex or hit a creative block. Works of art on the walls provide a new and disruptive visual stimulus. When we work, we are often performing leaned and repeated tasks that can lead to loss of concentration and things becoming a little stale. An artwork will therefore create a new pathway for new signals to the brain which can re-invigorate focus and concentration.


Incorporating a little bit of nature into your office can work wonders for your mental state. Plants have a calming effect on mind and body lowering heart rate and increasing relaxation. These two physical states improve your ability to complete work related tasks.

With this simple overview, you should now have a basic plan of action to follow, turning your home office into a hive of productivity and performance.

21st December, 2020 Applied Art