For many self-employed, freelance and remote workers, their home is their office.
Design and turnkey fit-out company Oxiba Interiors in Dubai helps clients to create professional sanctuaries and non-disruptive spaces in apartments and villas.
“There are many things to consider, but the most important is to invest in an ergonomic chair,” says Oxiba’s chief executive, Rami Fakhouri.
“They can go from around Dh400 up to Dh4,000, and while workstations also need to meet several criteria, I’d advise investing more in the chair than the table.”
While foldable workstations and free-standing bureaus are a more discreet and home-friendly option for some, furniture can be kept to a minimum for those who prefer a permanent set-up in a spare room or the corner of their living room.
When buying a table, or commissioning one from a design house, bear in mind wooden legs are cheaper than chrome or aluminium.
If money is tight, an alternative solution is to upcycle furniture you already own.
“To reduce costs you can use your own table,” says Fakhouri. “You could perhaps fix it to the wall with just two legs. Or just use one leg, two-wall supports and a mobile pedestal unit.
“Cabinets are usually expensive, so shelves above a desk are great for cost and space saving, and you can also fit lighting under them for a good aesthetic.
“I’d consider smart cabling solutions to avoid wires everywhere, too, and electrical outlets can be fitted on top of or under your desk, with data points and USB points if necessary.”
When considering the palette and design flourishes for your home office, busy wallpaper and primary colours might not be the most conducive to work.
“We generally recommend plain white walls,” says Rami Salous, the chief executive of design company Lamar Interiors in Dubai.
“Sometimes with a hint of grey or black to keep things looking very modern, but minimalist colouring only.
“It’s better for people’s mentality, as is greenery and plants.”
Costs and duration of work vary greatly for private fit-outs, depending on the requirements of the client and the condition of their residence.
“An average budget to set aside might be Dh1,000 per square metre,” says Salous. “But it is really impossible to say without a full brief and seeing the space we have to work with.
“In some cases, the walls of an apartment or villa are not even, so we need to start from there.”
Those with less cash to spend might want to source office furniture themselves.
Ikea stores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai offer an in-house customisation service, that creates desks to fit into awkward or restricted spaces.
Alternatively, flat-pack workstations start from Dh595 and chairs from just Dh49.
For security, when important documents and cash have to be kept in a home office, Ace Hardware sells electronic safes for less than Dh500.