Long-term home office solutions for remote workers.
Even back in 2019 studies were clearly indicating that remote work was sharply on the rise, with an Upwork annual report predicting that by ‘2028, 73% of all departments are expected to have remote workers’1. There should be no doubt that the upcoming generation is reshaping the workforce and the pandemic appears to have only accelerated this trend towards hybrid work. Many of us experienced this lifestyle in some form or another over the last two years, but what seemed once a temporary solution has become a staple feature of many peoples’ working lives.
Perhaps your home work station involves setting up shop on the kitchen table every morning or manoeuvring a desk somewhere with acceptable zoom lighting and background. Depending on your situation, you may be finding the lack of permanence, comfort and privacy tiring when it comes to solutions like these. If you predict that remote work will be a common feature in your working life in the future, as it will most likely be for many of us, it may be time to consider more long-term home office solutions.
In this article we compare different home office solutions to help you decide which might be most suitable for your living situation.
There are several factors personal to your situation which determine the kind of solution that would be right for you. Deciding whether you will opt for an open or closed office station is the first important step. This choice should be made relative to the type of work you do, where and how many people you are living with, your budget and, of course, your personal preferences.
The 3 levels of change for creating a home office:
1. Structural Changes
These changes refer to large scale projects which involve some degree of demolition and construction, recommended for those who envision a closed plan office with the highest degree of privacy. However this also requires sufficient space and the budget to dedicate to a larger scale project. Demolishing walls and creating new partitions can effectively section off an area within the home which would become an enclosed office space. Depending on the location of the property, there are also options which do not involve disturbing the existing structure of the building. For example, assuming planning permission can be granted, a small studio could be built as an extension on the terrace of as a top floor apartment. Alternatively, if located on the ground floor, perhaps an extension or a little studio at the end of the garden could work well, see here for potential garden office inspiration2.
2. Layout Changes
If you do not wish to make such significant structural changes or would simply prefer an open plan office, adjusting the furniture layout of your current space could be a very effective solution. With regard to layout this might entail rearranging the furniture in a room of your home to clear an appropriate space for a desk. There are several factors that should be taken into account when planning this approach, such as making sure there is enough natural light available in the space whilst also avoiding glare on your computer screen. You might also consider the use of a moveable partition or a plant wall to create an appealing background for video calls and to establish a better separation within a room. Our article on optimising bedroom space suggests a variety of different ways to temporarily convert a bedroom for an alternative function when not in use.
3. Feature Changes
The main challenges that arise as a result of working with an open-plan office space at home is the potential to clash with surrounding activity within the house. Perhaps you have a family, roommates, or a partner who is also working from home. This situation often leads to sound and visual distractions. If you opt for a workstation in an open plan, you can add to these solutions for those specific distracting moments. Making use of a room with a door offers a good solution here, for those moments when calls overlap for example. You might like to consider incorporating a standing desk in the bedroom designated just for calls, not only would this lessen distractions but standing for periods of time throughout the day is highly beneficial for the health. Acoustic dividers positioned on the main working area could also help if you work alongside others at home. They are made of sound absorbent material like felt for example which can double as a pinboard, bringing more office-like features to your space. Our previous article on home office furniture provides a range of specific furniture suggestions that would elevate your set-up to support the healthiest home working lifestyle possible.
The kind of home office you can create is highly dependent on your current space and the nature of your working life. Architects and interior designers can offer insightful perspectives on how to make the most of small spaces to suit your unique criteria. Upon evaluating your available space, specialists are usually able to come up with creative and cost-effective solutions which may have never considered before, even simply regarding layout adjustments and incorporating new features. Consulting a specialist is particularly recommended if you have found yourself in need of a closed office space but don’t simply have a ‘spare room’ available to convert, or a clear space you can ‘wall-off’.
Whether you opt for the use of a specialist or not, it is so worthwhile to take the time and effort required to create the best possible home office for yourself. Your environment has a direct correlation to your mental state and thus your ability to work happily and productively. With some creativity, aspects like light, sound and your visual frame can be significantly improved at any level of change mentioned above.
If you need assistance designing a home office or are planning on constructing or renovating your home would like some help, get in touch with us. We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.