Back-to-school reminders are all around us now, and that’s also a nudge that it’s time to get into the back-to-work mode. You may already have a room – or a corner – in your home that you use as an office. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 23 percent of U.S. workers did some or all of their work from home in 2017. In the DC Metro area, 32 percent of non-self-employed workers at least occasionally worked from home in 2016, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
If you’ve vowed this year to remodel your home office to make it a more beautiful, more efficient or more relaxing place to be, here are some ideas to inspire you and keep you on track.
1/ Think vertical.
If you don’t have a lot of floor space or just want to keep your desktop clean, put the walls to work. Take advantage of vertical space with floor-to-ceiling built-ins and a pegboard, magnetic board or corkboard. If you like to “think big” when you brainstorm, you can turn part of a wall into a whiteboard or a chalkboard with special paint, like Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint. Take a snapshot of your work with your smartphone, then wipe it clean and start over!
2/ Technology is your friend.
Use the cloud for document storage and backups of important files. Scan documents and then shred or recycle them. (But first, learn what papers you need to save for tax and legal purposes.) Go wireless with your devices whenever possible. The more wireless devices you can include, the less you have to worry about containing cord clutter. Just make sure you have plenty of handy outlets in the room layout for plugging in everything for recharging.
3/ Multi-level lighting.
What’s one of the best things about an office at home? No overhead fluorescent lights! Put your desk near the window for natural light, then supplement with a desk lamp, pendant lighting and task lamps that add illumination right where you need it. Make sure that it’s all arranged to avoid putting annoying glare on your monitor.
4/ Look behind you!
When you work remotely, chances are you do some video conferencing. Remember that what’s behind you is what the other person will be looking at. It doesn’t need to be a bare wall but keep the view as simple and neat as possible. (You might be able to keep the fuzzy slippers if they stay hidden under the desk!)
5/ Cut out the bulk.
Big desks with giant leather chairs are for big formal offices. A smaller scale writing desk, a standing desk, or an adjustable-height work surface might be better suited to your work-at-home style. Mesh chairs, like the Herman Miller Aeron, or a desk chair in white or a bright color add a fresh and airy ambiance. Adding built-in cabinets, shelves and bookcases can be a great way to maintain a clean look and provide a place to get papers out of sight when you have a meeting or video conference.
6/ Enjoy the view.
An efficient office doesn’t have to mean a bare, sterile office. Add a large window for a view of the backyard. Surround yourself with things you love to look at, whether it’s art prints, photos, or plants (which also improve the indoor air quality) and you might even increase your productivity.
7/ Working “at” home but not “in” the home.
If you don’t want a commute, but still need a quiet place to think, away from the comings and goings of family life, consider a detached home office. Depending on codes and covenants in effect where you live, an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) can be a room over the garage or a small out-building similar to a guest house that’s your own private work space just steps from your door. It combines the convenience of a home office with the physical (and psychological) separation between “working” and “relaxing” that is often missing when you work from home.
Whether you run a home-based business, bring work home regularly, telecommute a few days a week or simply need a place to put your laptop to pay household bills, we can help you create a home office space that suits your style and works for you while you’re working. Just give us a call!