Around the world, over two-thirds of people work from home at least one day a week. A functional home workspace is crucial for these individuals to maintain comfort, convenience, and productivity. If you’re joining the ranks of remote workers or self-employed individuals, adding an office to your home will change the way you do business. Make sure you’re creating a sleek space that will meet all your needs by taking these key considerations into account as you plan.
Renovation vs Addition
The first thing you must determine is whether your home office project is a renovation of your existing space or an addition to the home. If you have unused space in your house, this may offer prime square footage for a workspace. Consider overlooked areas like a sunroom or attic that may get a new breath of life when converted to an office.
If you don’t have any acceptable space for a home office, you’ll need to plan an addition. This type of construction project is more extensive, but an experienced contractor can help you design a brand-new room that’s up to code and carefully designed to meet your needs.
Keep distractions at bay while you’re working. Consider where your home office is located and what types of noise you may encounter there. Adding extra insulation or soundproofing material may help if you’re dealing with a space that has significant bleed-through. Consider distractions both inside the house and out. Whether it’s the kids’ television in the next room or the buzz of traffic outside the window, it’s important to identify potential pain points so you can address them in the construction phase.
Exposure to natural light increases productivity and improves health. A study by professor Alan Hedge of the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell revealed that workers in daylit offices experienced an 84% decrease in headaches, eye strain, and blurred vision. Research at Northwestern University in Chicago found that increased daylight improved quality of life measurements and overall sleep quality.
Workers in a traditional office don’t always have control over their exposure to sunlight, but you do. Design a home office with plenty of natural light. Consider furniture placement carefully so you’re not creating a glare on your computer screen. Rather, you should place your windows where they’re in your line of sight so you can enjoy the light.
Exterior Access Points
Determine whether your home office needs exterior access and what this should look like. If you’re entertaining clients in your office, you’ll likely want a separate entrance so you can keep your professional and personal lives separate. Building out an attractive and highly visible entrance will make it easy for customers to find the right door. Work with your architect to design a door that’s distinctive, yet well-coordinated with the overall style of your home.
Workflow and Traffic Patterns
Carefully consider your workflow throughout the course of the day. This will vary greatly depending on your job.
You may spend the day alone, tied to your computer. If this is the case, design an office with plenty of room for a spacious desk. You may want a large expanse of wall space for multiple mounted monitors, or an arrangement that allows for an L-shaped desk where you can move from computer to pen and paper smoothly. If you’re moving from your desk to filing cabinets and bookshelves, make sure you have smooth flooring that allows your chair to easily glide from one area to another.
If your workflow involves a stream of clients coming in and out of the office, plan their path. Can they easily move from the door to a comfortable seat opposite you at a desk or table? Is there a clear path to a restroom or coffee pot in the room? You don’t want to spend your day edging awkwardly around key pieces. Design an office where you can flow freely from one important spot to another.
What types of items do you need to store in your office? If you’re running a home business selling handmade goods, you might need several rows of shelving to store your supplies, products, and shipping materials. Perhaps you have enough professional books to fill a wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
Built-ins are a great option if you want to maximize storage space in your office. Consider whether this is the right approach for your space. If so, you should address this idea with your contractor in the design phase so you can sketch out the proper placement for your shelving system and include it naturally in your construction.
Indoor Air Quality
It’s easy to overlook the invisible factor of air quality when you’re designing your home office, but this is a critical consideration. Better air quality in work environments leads to greater productivity and fewer absences. Make sure you’re performing at your peak every day by addressing the air quality in your home office. The ideal setting will:
- Have low levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are off-gassed by certain building materials, adhesives, furniture, and office supplies.
- Maintain humidity levels between 30 and 60%.
- Have excellent ventilation.
- Utilize an HVAC air filter with a minimum removal efficiency of 75%.
Discuss air quality with your contractor to make sure this element is considered carefully in your renovation. You can utilize low-VOC building materials that help keep the air clean. If you’re connecting a new addition to your existing ductwork, you may need to upgrade your air conditioner or heater to accommodate the extra square footage and maintain high levels of air quality over the coming years as you settle in and begin using your space.
A well-designed home office will give you the space you need to get your work done efficiently. Thoughtful features like ample sunlight, mindful soundproofing, built-in storage, and high-quality air filtration will boost your productivity further so you can do your very best work in this space. Work with a skilled contractor who can help you develop a workspace that caters carefully to your needs.