What Every Home Office Needs to Make Working from Home Actually Work
Open floor plans have secured their place in home renovations for the last 20 years, creating expansive spaces for large family gatherings and multi-generational living. But more recently we have learned that while openness is valued, so is a carved out space for a productive work-from-home experience. The well appointed home office has definitely been the winner of the quarantine era we find ourselves facing.
Here are the five home office must-have features to make working from home productive and pleasant for everyone in the house:
1. Practical Boundaries That Work for Your Space
When you’re on that Zoom meeting, it’s problematic when background noise is overheard. Whether it’s a spouse on another call or a child running through, it’s helpful to have in place some healthy boundaries (both tangible and intangible).
Do you have a formal living room, dining room or playroom that does not get much use? Can these spaces be closed off with a modification to the floorplan – perhaps some pocket or french doors? Let us help you brainstorm how your existing space can serve you better in your need to get away.
2. Proper Lighting and Sound Proofing
Good natural light is a must. Dark rooms with poor lighting may leave you longing for a return to your corporate setting. Large windows with light filtering shades is a great choice to lift your spirits and give you that healthy glow on your video calls. Light fixtures that provide ample light in the evenings are a must so you can use your home office whenever work calls.
For natural light, don’t assume that skylights are the answer. While they let in great light, they also can produce problems of their own – glare that can’t be blocked without unsightly shades or that epic rainstorm that’ll produce thunderous noise from above. These are not the statements you want to make on that important business call.
For some creative ideas on sound proofing your office that go beyond good insulation and noise masking, check out Boston Globe’s webinar How to Create a Quiet Space in an Action-Packed Home.
3. Reliable Power and WiFi
Nothing is more frustrating than spotty wifi. It either prevents work from getting done or it significantly increases the time it takes to do it. A glitchy presentation is unprofessional and it loses the punch that it could have had if the wifi was fully functional. If your connectivity is unreliable, now is the time to invest in that much needed upgrade.
A well designed office will include the plan for getting power where it needs to go – well placed outlets, power strips and separate systems for phone and wifi when possible.
4. An Organized Workspace
Shelving and cabinetry provide structure
Uncluttered space is crucial to a productive environment. Think about what you need and then plan your space around these elements. Use shelving for your books, papers and folders. Cabinets can hide unsightly peripherals, components and cords.
Idea boards promote creativity
Desks are a must
It sounds relaxing to work from your couch or bed, but short-term comfort can cause long-term back pain. Plan your room around a desk – some of our clients love traditional heights and others prefer a standing desk – whatever tickles your fancy!
While desks are important elements, remember that productivity can happen anywhere at any time. Check out Forbes’ article, When Your Employees Are Remote,You Have to Stop the Body-In-Seat Mentality. You can be more productive, effective and satisfied with your job when you take advantage of your time at home and get into a groove that brings out your best work.
5. Accessibility for the Whole Family
Let’s face it. You may plan the perfect home office designed for all of your needs, but there’s always others who want in. Whether your middle schooler needs to print a homework assignment or your spouse needs to access the family’s file cabinets, you may be interrupted. So plan with those interruptions in mind.
Consider putting a spare printer elsewhere in the house as a backup. Keep separate file cabinets for family use and store them in a different room. This is the time to rethink how everyone uses the home, so be creative and move commonly used items to locations that work best for your family.
Home offices aren’t just for quarantine times. Employers recognize that their employees are very efficient at home and business can operate with reduced costs to the bottom line. Employees enjoy the flexibility of working from home and definitely don’t miss the long commute on the Pike every morning. As long as the home office is conducive to a productive work environment, it’s a win-win for both employer and employee.