Founder of HADO

It’s been a little over a month since the national government began announcing community lockdowns around the country. In that time, millions of Filipino workers have begun to experience for the first time the benefits and challenges of work-from-home arrangements.

And with talk of extending the current ECQ, or mandating intermittent lockdowns over the next few months, that struggle will only continue.

Beyond connectivity and logistics concerns, one major issue many of us who have become used to reporting to office spaces designed for productivity is: What can I do to make my personal space more conducive for work?

Here are five simple tips you can use to build the best possible workspace at home:

1. Dedicate a space. Keep it clean and uncluttered, distractions are the enemy.

This might sound simple, but it’s an important distinction to make. Your home is meant to be comfortable and is designed to help you relax. But now that you need a place to get things done—mixing business with pleasure will not work.

Whether it be a desk in your bedroom or spot in the living room, make sure you designate your work area, and stick to it. The clearer a distinction you can draw between what is a workspace, and what is a relaxation space, the quicker and more effectively your brain can switch into work mode when you need it to.

2. Light it up.

Research shows that natural light significantly increases productivity. So, as much as possible, find a spot by your window. Daylight will minimize eye strain from exposure to computer screens and the view always helps keep your mind stimulated.

If that’s not an option, a good task lamp with a white or daylight color bulb is best. Avoid warm lights, they promote relaxation and will get you ready for bed (even more than the back-to-back Zoom calls you have on deck).

3. Organize – Your space and yourself.

Make sure there is a place for everything you need—books, reference materials, chargers, a pen and paper, and the like. You do not want to be procrastinating by getting up now and then to go on a scavenger hunt. A drawer or desk organizer should do the trick as long as it’s within your reach. In a pinch, a nice wooden crate or a shoebox can also be used.

Put up a calendar, a scrum board, or a ‘to-do’ list to keep track of your progress. Set your working time for each day and be firm about it. Humans thrive on routine, and now that we don’t have excruciating daily commutes to help us delineate our schedules, it’s time to practice some self-discipline.

4. Remember—”Less is More.”

This saying, attributed to modernist architect Mies van der Rohe, perfectly describes the minimalist philosophy.

Your work space is a reflection of your mind, and a clear mind is a productive one. Stick to the essentials and save the rest for your down time. Avoid putting distracting gadgets or toys near your work area. Put a natural touch instead—we suggest a plant or a fishbowl.

5. Make it yours – functional and personal.

Now that you’ve experimented with all these previous tips, the real goal is to find what works best for you.

The beauty of building a personal workspace at home is you have total control over how to set it up. So be flexible. Add a personal touch to keep yourself inspired and motivated, your favourite artwork or a family photo would be perfect.

Try out different configurations or even different spots around your home until you find what feels right. Your most productive days are ahead of you—so get designing.

HADO is an architecture and design studio based in San Juan, Metro Manila. They focus on a people-centered design process, believing that good design should be accessible for all. You can find them here at their website. (