7 Home Office Tips from the Pros

Interior designers John Barman and Joe Ginsberg offer suggestions to help you wow colleagues on your next Zoom call

09 Apr 2020 | 12:55

Maybe posting up on the sofa with your laptop worked fine for the first week of #CoronaLockdown, or perhaps your cellmate – er, spouse — has asked you to vacate the kitchen table to make way for their newfound love of baking. Whatever your situation, an appealing and functional home office can help re-establish workday normalcy as we settle in for more social distancing.

For tips on setting up your corner (of the bedroom) office, Straus News turned to two of Manhattan’s premiere interior designers, John Barman and Joe Ginsberg.

1. Get Comfortable

“Comfort is essential in these stressful times,” according to Ginsberg, whose portfolio covers some of New York’s most stylish lofts and penthouse apartments, as well as commercial properties including Christian Dior and the Marmara Park Avenue Hotel.

For Barman, whose high-end residences have featured in multiple design books including “John Barman Interior Design” and “City Living: Inspirational Homes in the Heart of the City,” a good home office is all about personalization:

“People have different feelings towards their workspaces. Some people like to be more cluttered, as it would be in their office, some people like to be more Spartan because they can think better.” Barman encourages WFH beginners to “think back to the way they work in their regular office,” and draw from what worked there.

2. Tidy Up

“The important thing is to find a space that you can devote to your work and keep it neat,” Barman told Straus News. For his own home workspace, the designer prefers a minimalist set-up of white walls, white carpet and a black desk.

“Have whatever you need handy for storage to keep things organized and reduce clutter,” Ginsberg recommended.

3. Shine a Light

“Lighting is critical!” Ginsberg wrote, adding “no fluorescent.” He recommends task lighting to brighten up workspaces when burning the midnight oil.

4. Get in Gear

“Efficient technology for uninterrupted workflow” including “an appropriate size monitor” is crucial for a productive day at the home office, according to Ginsberg.

5. Separate Yourself

For both designers, elbow room isn’t as important establishing a place to work that’s separate from homier spaces.

“People working on a laptop don't necessarily need that much space, but it's nicer if it's a space devoted to it that doesn't become something else, if possible,” Barman explained.

6. Stage Your Calls

For on-camera appearances, like teaching or being interviewed, Barman recommends replacing family photos with more generic artwork, and adding a plant to distract from domestic clutter.

Even off camera, “flowers and other greenery and/or music are a very soothing addition,” Ginsberg noted.

7. Suit Up

As a finishing touch, Barman encourages housebound workers to forego the all-day bathrobe look, telling Straus News:

“It changes your attitude for the whole day and makes you feel much more business-like,” that combined with having "a space that's definitely a workspace, and an attractive workspace” is a recipe for work-from-home success.

"Comfort is essential in these stressful times." Interior designer Joe Ginsberg