Many of us want to work from home these days, even as offices reopen.
The way that we work has changed, and this change has been coming long before most offices closed. According to the Federal Reserve, the number of people who work from home has tripled in the past 15 years, to 3.2 percent of the total labor force. In the past month, the number of Americans working remotely jumped to 37 percent, and many of those workers likely won’t return to the office full-time, even when their office reopens.
The flexibility of working from home saves time, prevents co-worker distractions, and reduces stress. But when your entire family is also at home, new distractions and stressors arise. So what home office ideas encourages productivity?
Carve Out A Remote Workspace To Work From Home Efficiently
Having a reliable home office may mean reallocating space. For example, my husband and I are moving from one three bedroom house to another. In our old house, our two small boys had separate rooms. But now that the adults both work from home, we need a quiet, dedicated workspace with a door that shuts. So in our new home, we’ve decided to make one bedroom an office, which means our boys will share a bedroom.
When you move into a home that is already build you may find yourself making compromises that you wouldn’t have to worry about if you were remodeling a home or building from scratch. Good design takes time, but it’s worth it to get what you want.
Your Home Office & Multifunctional Residential Spaces
Space is in high-demand and short supply at the beach. If you choose to work from home, your workspace may need to double as a guest room, a craft room, or an exercise space.
Built-in storage is a great way to keep exercise equipment from cluttering your home office during “working” hours. Foldable or mobile equipment, such as a Peloton, make the transformation easy—simply push the equipment against a wall or tuck it in a closet when not in use.
Gyms need durable flooring, but what if you don’t want industrial floors in your home office? Snap-together rubber mats will help protect your wood floors from pounding and heavy equipment. If you’re doing a custom built home, we could also add extra bracing to the floor of your home office/gym.
Murphy Beds Make Any Room A Bedroom
Need a guest room but don’t have the space? A Murphy bed, which folds into the wall, can transform your work from home space into a bedroom. Many of us have this black-and-white movie concept of Murphy beds, as something ugly and flimsy. But these days, custom-built Murphy beds are clean and streamlined. When folded, they look like high-end cabinetry.
A media room or man-cave is another popular place for a hide-away bed. If the room has a sofa, TV and mini-fridge, it can quickly become an in-law suite.
Work From Home? Check Out These Design Elements For Your Home Office
Built-In Filing Cabinets & Shelves
Organization is key in any space, but it’s especially important in a home office. And if your office will be used in another capacity after hours, you need to be able to shut things away without disrupting your work systems.
Studies show that an organized workspace directly correlates to enhanced productivity. Cluttered spaces lead to anxiety and lack of focus. This lack of focus is actually visible on brain scans, when people are exposed to multiple stimuli. Disorganization increases procrastination and triggers unhealthy “coping” mechanisms, such as snacking or watching TV.
Built-in shelves, filing cabinets, and drawers are key to keeping your work area conducive to productivity.
Wiring Your Home Office
When we design an office, we walk through the space with our cabinet-maker and our electrician, mapping out exactly where the client is going to put their computer and printer. We discuss if they’ll use multiple desk-top monitors and where the outlets need to be. Home offices need to have all the electrical outlets, in all the right places.
Sound-proofing Your Remote Office
Sound is part of that whole “multiple stimuli” phenomena we mentioned earlier. Trying to work from home with loud or distracting noises can be highly stressful, especially if you’re in the middle of a video meeting or conference call. If you’re doing a ground-up build or full remodel, we use special insulation in your home office area, to cut down on unwanted sounds. (This is also a great option for children’s spaces.)
If you’re redesigning an existing room, area rugs or wall panels (go with wood or upholstery) can prevent sound from traveling.
Lighting Your Workspace
Lighting can affect energy levels and mood. For multifunctional spaces, we recommend a variety of lighting options, so that you can have cool, energizing light for work time, and warm, soothing light when you’re ready to relax. We often use light-blocking liners behind window dressings, to prevent glare on computer screens.
Traditional or Standing Desk?
A standing desk that converts to a seated desk is a great option for a home office. If you’re using the office as a crafting or hobby room in the evenings, it’s helpful to have a desk that converts to a counter.
You want your home office to be inspiring. Mentally, you need it to be distinct from your living space. To help differentiate the area, you may want to use a color scheme that contrasts with the rest of the house.
You can do a lot with paint and finishes to create the kind of ambiance your home office needs. If work makes you anxious, relaxing blues and soft shades may help you feel calm. If you want to encourage alertness, try pops of greens and yellows.
Need a blend of soothing and energizing vibes? Light cabinetry with natural wood accents and colorful window dressings could work. Bronze hardware adds a touch of masculinity. I like plants in workspaces, too. Not only do they purify the air, research suggests they increase productivity by 15 percent.
Your Space Is Your Sanctuary
Your home office should be a place you want to be, where you can lose yourself in your work. A large part of design is making your home run more efficiently. A home office that boosts your productivity and lowers stress is an investment that literally pays for itself.
Thanks for reading,
Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.