How to Design an Exceptional Home Office
As technologies evolve and workforces become more diverse and specialized, more Americans are avoiding the traditional model of going into an office from 9-to-5. Individuals and companies are both realizing the value of having a flexible workforce that can work from home, taking a blended workplace/home office approach to their job. This approach has several advantages including the opportunity to respond to problems and needs as they arise, the ability to work in a quiet space away from corporate distractions, and cost savings relating to minimizing operational expenses for the business. You may also have the added advantage come tax time of being able to deduct $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet as a business expense with a simplified deduction on your earned income.
If a home office is something that your family needs now or may in the near future, there are several things to consider when shopping for a new home, looking for a rental, or considering renovating an existing space. These same considerations can be made when staging a home for sale, since home offices can add significant appeal to families looking for homes in your neighborhood!
The location of the room relative to the rest of the house is one of the most important variables when designing an effective home office. Obviously it should be in a quiet part of the house away from a high traffic area to avoid distractions. Ideally it would also be separate from the bedroom since studies have found that working in the same room that you sleep tends to lead to less productivity, probably due in part to the overwhelming urge to take a nap from time to time. Other variables to consider include finding a place that gets a lot of natural light with a window. While watching the grass grow while working on a report may seem unproductive, little breaks of down time can help your brain recharge and get its creative juices flowing.
While practicality and usefulness is certainly important, you need to make sure that the space is one you’ll enjoy being in, rather than something purely functional but devoid of personality. Take some time to decorate in bright, energizing colors and fabrics. Make sure that the desk is not only functional and supportive of your work style, but also a pleasant place to sit for hours on end. Think about adding a touch of whimsy that reflects your personality, such as displays of your favorite collectables or collections of inspiring artwork. And don’t be afraid to experiment with paint colors. Who really wants to spend hours a day in a boring office beige room? It’s your space, color it the way you want! Bold, bright colors can also help inspire creative thinking.
Furniture and Equipment
Just like the rest of your home, your furniture is what can make or break a room. Don’t be afraid to spend money on a high-quality chair. You’ll save on later replacements, and in back and shoulder pain. Consider even using one of those standing desks, if you find those types of things more comfortable. If you type a lot and have problems with wrist or hand cramps, an ergonomic keyboard can be a real lifesaver. Another option when designing your space is to look into furniture on wheels. A filing cabinet or work table that can be rolled out when needed and tucked back under a desk when not can dramatically improve the flow and utility of your space.
While you are having fun with adding bold colors, unique pieces of furniture and your own personal touches, don’t lose sight of why you are building a home office. Your ability to conduct meaningful, effective work in the space is really the primary purpose for having the room. Good organization is key. Consider floating shelves above the desk, storage bins for office supplies that are easy to access, and reference materials stored in a handy location. You may also find a lot of value in using a whiteboard or other visual display to post a daily list of tasks you want to complete each day, then cross each item off as they are accomplished. Good organization can also help you make the most of a smaller space, reducing desktop clutter and increasing the effectiveness of your workspace.