One of the biggest home remodeling project drivers during COVID-19 has been the need for dedicated home office space. With a growing percentage of employees now working from home and 54% never having had a remote work setup before the shutdown*, more people are scrambling to piece together home office solutions.
Here are some considerations for designing the ideal home office space:
There are three primary options for determining where to design your new home office. The first is renovating an existing office. Many home offices weren’t designed with every day, long-term use in mind. Renovating an existing, dedicated home office is likely the easiest and less-costly option. A review of the additional factors below can help you create a wish-list for a basic office upgrade.
Another option is transforming an existing room in the house into a new office space. This may involve an extra guest bedroom, a craft room, a garage loft, or a basement or attic space.
The last option is building an office addition, which could include bumping out a primary area of the home such as a kitchen, master bedroom, or great room.
Determining the location of your home office often requires a thorough examination of its purpose. Noise level is a major concern here. If your work requires deep thinking, quiet and privacy, an office separate from the primary (and often noisiest) areas of the home is ideal. Your best options for ultimate privacy may be in a garage loft, an addition, an attic or a basement.
However, if you’re running a small business from home and/or you need to also watch your children and assist with distance learning, you may need your office near the kitchen or a sitting room. If routine household distractions aren’t an issue, you may also consider integrating office workspace into a living area or recreation room.
It’s important to consider the layout of your home office to include an ideal area for videoconferencing if that’s an aspect of your day-to-day job. Ensuring your background is clean and clutter-free and you have adequate lighting, either natural light from windows or spotlighting, are important factors for videoconferencing. Your background should be as warm and inviting as any space where you would gather with coworkers or meet with clients.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of lighting in your work environment when trying to haphazardly throw together a home office space. In addition to lighting considerations for videoconferencing, a thoughtful home office design should include sufficient indirect light to illuminate your workspace so you can easily read and find physical objects. Overhead lighting, such as recessed lighting or a ceiling lamp, is often best for this purpose.
Natural light is pleasant in any area of the home, but can be distracting when the window is beside or behind you creating a glare on your monitor or backlighting you during video calls. If you don’t have the option to arrange your office so windows are not located behind you, consider window treatments to diffuse the light with shades or curtains when necessary.
5. Storage & Equipment
Storage seems to be an issue in every area of the home! While most work is now done online in virtual environments leading to less need for paper storage, there’s often still a need for file cabinets, bookshelves, and space for office equipment, such as bulky printers. While custom built-ins may be more costly, they tend to hold up better over time and often give a more professional, “clean” look to a home office.
6. Tech Needs
Inadequate wire management, outlet and USB shortages, the need for multiple monitors, video camera setups—redesigning your workspace for the longterm is the perfect time to address these common issues from makeshift home office designs.
*Study conducted by YouGov in partnership with USA TODAY and LinkedIn companies realizing this may be a longer-term situation.
It is predicted that a large percentage of the workforce will be working from home at least a couple of days a week for the foreseeable future, and possibly for good. A thoughtful, well-designed home office should be a place you want to be, have a positive impact on your wellbeing, and enhance the work you do there.