18 Jan Dream extension: The perfect home office
The media have been telling us for months that the number of people choosing to work from home has doubled during the pandemic. With those who have been sent home to work by their companies having to find space, those who have been furloughed investigating a side business, those made redundant who decide to go it alone, and those who already have their own ‘small’ business looking to upgrade their work surroundings, the demand for home offices has soared in recent times. But what makes a ‘perfect’ home office?
Whether you have a spare room/space to convert into a home office or you need to extend up, down or out to create the space you’ll need, there are certain factors you should consider when planning your perfect home office.
You may be someone who loves to work with the radio on, or you might prefer complete silence, but your starting point should be to find/create a space that is separate enough from the hustle and bustle of your home and the outside world that you can avoid distractions. Babies crying, traffic noise, TVs blaring, are not conducive to work focus. And this works two ways – while you won’t want the kids running in whenever they have a question (all the time), you also won’t want your business calls disturbing their nap time. So, typically we’d look to keep your home office away from kitchens, bathrooms and playrooms. You would normally have a space separated from your home by at least a door and your room should be designed to dampen sound, not to echo with it.
A home office is as much about the mood it puts you in as the space it provides. You want a space that offers the right environment for your work needs – creative, tranquil, dynamic, trendy – or just neutral to avoid any distractions at all. You have an opportunity to create a space that inspires the right motivations and behaviours from you so make the most of this. This may involve natural light or mood lighting, plenty of indoor plants to add to the room’s oxygen levels, or minimalism in the furnishings.
Natural light is going to be important, no matter your preferences for everything else in your home office. Windows and doors to the outside world that flood your room with natural light for as long as possible during the day. Natural light makes people more productive, fights seasonal mood issues and keeps the utility bills down as well. However, quality ambient lighting is going to be vital as well because it’s not always going to be sunny and you may wish to work into the evening, so to avoid eye-strain make sure that your room is planned with adequate luminosity in mind.
While minimalism is often the best way to provide a distraction-free work environment it’s also important to have reminders of why you are doing all of this, dotted around the room. This may be pictures of the kids and family or images of aspirational purchases you wish to make when you make your first million. Your office should put you in the mood for work, hard work.
You want to make your home office inviting, a place you enjoy being in and will be happy to spend time in, hour after hour. Warm colours, but not bright ones, clean walls not cluttered spaces. Artwork on the walls is ok, but its purpose is to make the room feel more like a sophisticated office space, not a home space.
As already mentioned, clutter is bad for productivity, so make sure that you design your home office with plenty of storage space so all your files, paperwork, equipment and so forth, can be kept neat and tidy and away from your main work area. Resist the temptation to allow other family members to use this storage space as this will inevitably result in clutter returning to your work world.
OK, so the title may be a little confusing at first, but bear with me. Sometimes there simply is no space in a house for a home office, sometimes there’s no extension possible – either up, down, out or to the side. However, if you have a garden, why not consider a garden room home office? It hits the solitude criteria on the head, it could receive more natural light than any room in your home, and garden rooms can be quite sizeable and affordable these days. Your home office could be truly separate to avoid little people popping in while you’re on an important call, and, as pleasant environments go, they don’t get much better.