More people are making a living by working at home. According to the most recent census:
- 13.4 million Americans work from home to earn a living.
- The number of home-based workers jumped by 41 percent over the past decade and continues to grow due to advances in information technology and economic conditions.
- Of those working at home, 1 in 10 is over age 65.
There is a growing demand for home office space. What does this mean for homeowners and remodelers? For homeowners, a home office can be an asset not only as a base for working but also as a feature that adds value to a home at resale. For remodelers, the trend requires they be knowledgeable about both products that can be used to create an office and ergonomic design.
Many people working from home need a space where they can work without distraction, stay organized and separate from their job at the end of a day. The space should be functional and aesthetic because they may spend 8 or more hours in the room each day or meet with business associates there.
If you work at home consider comfort, organization and productivity in designing an office.
First and foremost determine the amount of time you will be working in your home office each day. You can be susceptible to the same type of problems workers encounter in office buildings including eyestrain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and factors that reduce productivity. Plan your office space by addressing the following:
- Location. How much space do you need to work comfortably? Offices can be created in a closet, landing, loft, attic, basement, garage, kitchen, den, family room or a bedroom. The space you select should be sufficient for not only your equipment, professional resources and storage but for you and anyone you work with.
- Lighting. Architects and designers of professional buildings recognize the importance of natural, direct and ambient lighting in workspaces. Why not make this a priority at home? Numerous studies have found that eye strain is a primary physical complaint among office workers and significantly impacts productivity. It may be worthwhile to discuss your lighting needs with a contractor if you plan to remodel a space in your home for an office.
- Ventilation. Heating and cooling is often overlooked when planning a home office. A cold office is not a place to be in the winter and a room with a loud air conditioner will not be a productive place to work during summer months. Pay special attention to the location of vents and heat ducts in the room when determining the set up.
- Flooring. When you sit in a chair for more than four hours a day it’s important to have a floor surface that allows you to move around comfortably. Some of the best flooring options for an office include industrial carpeting, hardwoods and laminate flooring. Also, consider flooring products that will absorb sound to limit noise.
- Soundproofing. There are often distractions when you work at home. You may want to soundproof your office to control noise from the street or from other occupants of the house. A contractor can help you determine the best solutions for soundproofing your space such as adding soundproof insulation to the walls, floors or ceiling or installing a door or windows to reduce noise.
- Selecting a desk and chair. A comfortable ergonomic chair and desk area are two of the most important tools in any office. Select a chair that has lower back support, an armrest, a head rest and that can be adjusted at a height appropriate for you. Choosing the right desk may increase your efficiency and if you work from home it could be a write off.
- Color. Color affects your mood when you spend a lot of time in a room. According to Benjamin Moore, greens, grays and blues seem to impact mental clarity while reds energize. Take some time to think about wall colors for your office.
Disorganization can cause a business or individual to fail. Consider these three things when designing a home office:
- Layout. The layout of your office will depend on the space available, your profession or needs, and the furnishings you select. You may want to take a look at home office photos on Houzz and create an Ideaboard.
- Requirements for equipment. The basics for a home office are a computer, display screen, printer, scanner/copier, telephone and perhaps a television. Be sure you have adequate power outlets and surge protectors. Keep cords from becoming hazards.
- Shelving and storage. Wall shelves and bookcases help to keep an office organized. If space is limited consider built-in office shelving where you can add base cabinets to camouflage equipment and supplies, and keep papers and books out of sight. Built-ins also help to optimize floor space if your office is small.
If you have designed a comfortable, organized office you will have created an environment in which you can be productive. Try to set regular hours to have time for a life away from the office.
- A door to close. No matter where you decide to set up a home office, try to include a door for privacy and productivity during the hours you are working, to keep other family members out of your work space and, most importantly, to end your work day by shutting the door.
An investment in a home office is an investment in you. Please contact us with any questions you may have about making your work place comfortable, organized and productive.