The pandemic created the opportunity for many of us to work from home, whether we had space or not. While some people already had a dedicated office, many of us had to make do with whatever we could set up — from clearing off a space at the kitchen table to fashioning a desk in the garage from an old door and a couple of sawhorses. Now that we’re a year into the new normal, many organizations are open to work-from-home options for their people, either full-time remote or through a creative alternative, such as a 3-2-2 work schedule.
“We’ve seen a substantial increase in requests to create space for a home office in our projects in Victoria,” said Blaise McDonald, owner of MAC Renovations. “Whether it’s repurposing an existing room, adding new space, or building it into an ADU or outbuilding, our clients are telling us this is a necessary feature in their homes.”
If you’re considering a dedicated home office, here are some essential aspects for you to review with your renovation team.
Tip #1 – Plan for Success
To get the most out of your future home office, create a plan to accommodate the different functions and people the space will serve. Smart planning can help you do a lot with a little, such as having the office do double-duty as a craft room or library. You might be tempted to make space for guests by including a Murphy bed or pull-out couch, but working around other people’s sleep schedules is not fun.
Tip #2 – Protect Your Privacy
No matter how understanding your family is about respecting your work time, stuff happens. Barking dogs, crying children, loud TVs and general noise are all unwelcome distractions and prevent you from doing your best work at home. Your dedicated space should have a functioning door to keep the noise out and the productivity up. Adding sound-proofing insulation can help you stay focused on work so you can get more done in less time, allowing you to enjoy quality time with the people who matter most.
Tip #3 – Technology Tools
If you can’t securely and consistently connect to the internet from your home office, productivity is just a pipe-dream. If you’re adding a dedicated office to your home, make sure that you have plenty of power, multiple lighting options, a landline (optional, but nice to have), and a wired connection to the internet.
WiFi should be a backup, not your primary connection. If you’ve ever been in a Zoom meeting while someone in the house is running the microwave, using a cordless phone or any number of issues that mess up your WiFi connection, you’ll appreciate having a wired connection to your modem. If WiFi is your only option, look into a mesh network to provide a consistently strong signal throughout your home.
Headphones are another essential piece of office equipment, especially if there will be two or more people working in your office. Not only will it help prevent crosstalk, it’s a great way to slip into work-mode and boost your productivity.
Tip #4 – Location, Location, Location
Depending on your floorplan, you might have multiple options for your new home office. If it’s hard to resist the siren call of the fridge, then moving the office downstairs might be helpful. Separating your office from your living space creates a division between work and home. Sure, your commute might only be 30 steps, but it gives you the ability to focus on work when you’re in the office, while ignoring it the rest of the time.
Tip #5 – Sharing is Caring
Another important consideration for your home office is the number of people who will be using it. If you’re running solo, this isn’t a big concern, but if your entire family is working from home, designing a space that fits everyone’s needs is challenging, but definitely possible.
Sharing a desktop isn’t ideal, so plan for dedicated workspaces. Fold-down desks give you the space when you need it, and can be put away when you don’t. Talk with your designer to go over potential layouts that make the best use of a small space.
Bonus Tip – Sitting Pretty
You might not consider your chair an essential part of your home office, but if you’re sitting for long stretches in front of the computer, it’s a vital asset. There’s an ergonomic chair for every budget, but you only have one body, so splurging on a decent chair will help you stay focused on the work in front of you without neck strain and back pain. In your twenties, a hand-me-down office chair is probably fine, but as you get older, you’ll appreciate the comfort a quality chair offers.
Planning is the key to success in your home office. To make your space efficient, effective and enjoyable, contact a local renovation professional to see what their design team can do for you.
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