The Covid epidemic has meant we’ve had to look at doing our work from home. As the exodus from our ‘battery’ offices has come into effect, there has been a realisation that we can indeed be productive from the couch…. ok maybe not the couch, but certainly from our homes. For a long time it may have been a laptop on the kitchen table, but now you are wondering how you can make it a comfortable arrangement. So how do we go about turning our domestic castles into a fully functional replica of our normal workplace..?
How do I find space for a home office?
The short answer is to perform a review of your home to understand what space there is. Assess if any rooms could be re-purposed, what furniture could be sacrificed to create space, or what outbuildings could be converted. Then draw up a plan to see if that space is enough, or if you can further optimise it to suit your requirements.
This article will layout the steps needed for those that have started, or are about to turn part of their home into a mini editorial studio, Google campus or Apple HQ. It will be the first of two articles which will guide you through the process of establishing your own workspace – your own home office.
Let’s get started…
Step 1 of the Home Office Journey – Identify a suitable location.
Yep – this may be stating the obvious, but there are a lot of factors to consider, above and beyond the question of space!
1. Do you have a room that you can use as your home office?
Your home office doesn’t have to be something Google would be jealous of, an Employee Slide in your lounge area is not required! Though if your home office is something you plan to use a lot, then it needs to be the functional space that will aid your work. You need a Workspace!
The ideal scenario is where you have a spare room that you can ‘liberate’ and adapt to be your office, it needn’t be huge, but big enough to fit in a desk, chair, IT kit and whatever other essentials you may need. Ensure you read Step 2! An absolute essential would be a window, at a subconscious level having exposure to natural light will enable you to concentrate longer, and also will be a welcome distraction for those times when you just need to look outside for that ‘Eureka’ moment. It is also ideal for you to stand up and take a break, to look at the world outside, reset, and stretch your limbs without facing the temptation to get away!
Having a window may not be an option for some people, but you might need to get inventive to stop it feeling like you were sat in a closet or baggage room. A quality lighting solution may be key for those that won’t have access to natural light.
If you do have a whole room then you have the very best ‘blank canvas’ on which you can design an office that fulfils your needs, but of course it will be relative to the square footage available to you.
Your next battle will be what budget do you have, and how do you maximise it to realize your best laid plan!?
2. If you don’t have a room, do you have an area that can be utilised, an open landing, part of a utility room, dining room or space under a staircase?
Well, this is where I fit in as I write this article right at this moment. I don’t have an extra room, but do have a space under a Dormer window that is in between two of my children’s bedrooms. The plus side is I can receive natural light and take the odd moment to look out of the Window and have a think. The downside is my floor and desk invariably becomes an extension of the kids bedrooms, and the dumping ground for Lego, dolls, and other plastic kids ‘stuff’.
But, you can’t have it all, right?
It is not perfect, I’d love to be NORAD and have my own command center, but I make the most of what I have. I have a mid size height adjustable desk, that enables me work standing up or sitting – yep its a cool luxury… but I’d love to fit in a bigger one! I make the most of the desk space by having dual Monitor Mounts which clip to the rear of my desk, so they don’t need to be mounted on it. For flexibility I opted for a Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse, they are easier to place towards the back of the desk, or remove completely if I ever need the space for writing, reviewing documents, etc.
The best component in my home office though is my chair, I invested in a Herman Miller. Simply put, if you think you will spend a long time in a chair then buy a good one. That said, mine is not the very best ergonomic chair, but can be classed as being at the higher end of office ergonomic chairs. I opted to buy one for my home as I’ve used one for years at my regular office, and as well the ergonomic comfort factor, I just liked the look of it.
A plus point about having a height adjustable desk is if you have finished using it for the day, simply pop it up, and slide the chair in completely. If you have a filing cabinet, and maybe a larger desk than me, it is a neat way to ‘put away’ your office and reclaim a bit of space – for the kids to put their plastic stuff back!
It works, and I guess that is the main thing!
It is probably this scenario which may be the most common for people, to steal a portion of a room, landing, or under a staircase. An area in which they can establish a home office. There should be a corner, or a wall where a desk can slot in nicely. It might just mean that old cabinet you inherited from Aunt Jess has to go!
3. If you don’t have a spare room, do you have a lofted roof space that could be converted?
Now we are starting to go into territory where someone is quite serious about their home office journey, if they are willing to convert the roof space into a viable office space. It could be a costly way to provide an office, but would allow you to approach it with many options at your disposal, allowing it to be designed to suit your need. It would add value to your property, as it could be converted for use as a bedroom or snug by a future owner if they so wished. For those who may have that space available, then providing it has good access, power, light, heating and ventilation; it would just be down to how you would like it to be decorated. You could then look to purchase the main office items you’d need.
The only real obstacle could be the roof angle. Assuming it has decent head height then you’d have to consider if your office furniture will fit within the angled pitch of the roof. Even then, many people who opt for this type of home office can have bespoke fitted furniture to maximise usage of the available space, perhaps even having a desk built in. It may look great, but you would lose the option of it being adjustable, or the ability to re-arrange it. But all is not lost, if further down the line you wanted that built in desk to provide an option for you to work standing up, then there are a range of desk converters that will give you flexibility between sitting down and standing up.
4. No spare room, landing, utility or loft space…. MAN CAVE or WOSPACE (WOmanSPACE)?
Well I said we were heading into serious territory, and this home office solution is for those that are probably the most serious. The scale from low end to high end could be massive. On one end we could have a guy who has utilised a garden shed, expelling the lawn mower. To a top-end designer log cabin filled with luxurious fixtures and fittings for the lady of the manor.
The considerations here, if this is perhaps what you have in mind, are potentially far greater. First and foremost you may have to consult your local authority planning department to confirm you can add a structure. You would have to find an area on your property to position the structure, which would need to be suitably located for it to be integrated into your existing power, and maybe plumbing? It would need to be insulated – of course your location would decide whether this is needed, and to what extent. All achievable if you are prepared to do a little more work.
Your options are only limited to your imagination! Ok, ok… and how much you can finance your home office venture… oh, and maybe planning regulation. But your options really can range from a tool shed, to a log cabin, to a shipping container, to an old Airstream caravan, from a Locomotive carriage to a retired Boeing 737… You could go crazy!
But your home office could be one heck of a statement.