Twenty-twenty seems determined to teach us a thing or two about what we thought possible. When offices were forced to close in March, we all quickly adapted to new situations. In person meetings became Zoom meetings, dining tables became desks and we readily embraced the wardrobe of waist-up professionalism. As the world begins to consider what life will look like after the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems that remote working may be here to stay. While winging it worked for a few months, it is now time to get intentional about your home’s long-term office solution.
Remote Working is Here to Stay
According to a PwC survey of U.S. executives and office workers, “73% said shifting their respective workforces to remote working situations has been a success.” And, “55% of 120 company executives said most of their employees will have opportunities to work remotely at least one day a week after COVID-19 issues ease.” Journalist Art Raymond of the Deseret News poses the question, “Is it time to kiss the office goodbye? The upsides of remote work are winning the hearts of employees—and their bosses”
A Well-Designed Office is an Investment in You & Your Home’s Value
Looking to the future, setting up a permanent work space in your home is going to be important. Not only for your own productivity, but also for resale. Our Niche Homes team anticipates that showing a home as a dedicated work space is going to be an important factor for buyers. Designing a home office can be highly personalized and dependent on your job description, space constraints and personality. However, there are some universal design principles that can be applied in everyone’s home.
Before You Start, Talk With Your Employer
Many companies across the country are offering stipends to help employees outfit their home office area to maximize productivity. According to CNN, “E-commerce company Shopify announced in March that it would give its newly remote employees $1,000 to set up their new home office. Teleworkers at Twitter will get up to $1,000 for the same purpose.” Before you begin your office redesign, check in with your employer to see what you can expense or what they will provide.
Prioritize Healthy Ergonomics
In order to safely work from home, your space needs to facilitate healthy ergonomics. Working in awkward positions can lead to quicker fatigue and serious issues with muscles and tendons.
Invest in Your Neck
First, protect your neck by investing in handsfree phone use. Handsfree phone capability can be achieved with something as simple as a desktop phone stand and utilizing your cell phone speaker feature. Or purchase wireless earbuds such as the Vista from Park City based company Jaybird.
Invest in Your Back
Secondly, protect your back with a good chair. The first step may just be moving from the sofa to a dining chair that allows for your thighs to be parallel to the floor. However, if you are required to spend several hours sitting at a time, consider investing in an ergonomic task chair. Task chairs can be decent looking and integrated into any home decor. A good task chair has arm rests, adjustable seat height and a back that follows the natural curve of your spine. A classic and ergonomically sound option is the Herman Miller Mirra 2 chair. It comes in several fun color options. A more affordable option to consider is the Modway Articulate Chair.
Optimize Your Light for Videoconferencing
Use Natural Light as Much as Possible
Now that your body is aligned for productivity, how about looking your best when video conferencing. I recommend sitting in front of a window so that natural light brightens your face from behind the web camera. Not to mention, according to an article on squarefoot.com, “employees who work in offices with natural light experience improved sleep, an increase of vitamin D, and less weariness in vision throughout the day.”
Opt for Flattering LED Monitor Lighting
Invest in Organization
There is a learning curve to working from home. While the chatty office mates are gone, now we have our laundry, unfinished house projects, pets and our remote-schooling children staring at us. Dedicated work time, even in short burst, needs to be structured for optimum productivity. This can be achieved by having a well organized space. This will also help you keep your workspace aesthetically pleasing if it sits out in a public area of your home. The two most important things to consider for organization are cord management and paper organization.
A spider web of cords is almost always hideous and always easily remedied. When considering cord management, first consider outlet locations. It is hard to achieve a floating desk layout in a home office without a dedicated floor outlet. When I am laying out a home office, I often put the desk facing the wall at the outlet or running perpendicular to the wall, at the outlet. Once I have selected the location for the desk, I measure the distance I will need the cords to travel. I recommend using white extension cords that won’t stand out harshly against light colored residential walls. Lastly, I recommend D-wing cord clips in a color coordinating with your desk to run the cords straight from your device, along the furniture and down into the outlet. Having good cord management also means having the correct cords when and where you need it. I recommend having an extra phone charger and laptop charger to always stay at your home work station. This will ensure you do not lose power in the middle of an important conference call.
Paper organization at home, doesn’t JUST mean you have a good filing system. It also means being able to artfully disguise work papers or put them away completely when not working at your home work station. I love the Marten Collection from the Container Store. The document boxes are great for holding the paperwork and materials of an active project. The lid conceals everything so you can stay looking tidy. If you have a particularly paperwork heavy job, I recommend a filing cabinet on casters that can be rolled under the desk or out of the living room and into a nearby closet when not in use.
Turn Any Room into a Home Office
Speaking of desks in the living room, if you don’t have a spare bedroom to convert into your dream home office, that is ok. There are so many ways to stylishly incorporate a workspace in several areas of your home. Try one of these options below.
This is one my favorite places to add a desk because you can still work behind a closed door when you need to shut out everything else. An easy way to incorporate a desk into a bedroom is by swapping out a nightstand for a writing desk that is 36” to 48” wide by 24” deep.
Try swapping out your sofa credenza for a writing desk. You only need something about 15 to 18” deep for your laptop and a small chair. If your sofa is against a wall, a stylish desk and chair make a great accent along another open wall or in front of a window.
When school shut down in March we converted our own playroom to an office. It was a great opportunity to purge toys that weren’t getting a lot use and move the rest to the basement or a small shelf on the other side of the room. Having a desk in the play area of our home also has allowed us to get work done while keeping an eye on our daughter.
Looking to the Future
2020 has been heavy with challenges and change. As we look to the future, my hope is that intentional design and beauty will help lightly ease the burden of that change. The Niche Homes team is ready and eager to help you whether that is with incorporating a great work space into your current home or finding a new home that will better fit your needs.