From Victoria Carter
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in March of this year, working and studying from home became a necessity for many Americans. Companies rapidly switched gears to help accommodate the shift, schools offered classes remotely, and #WFH started trending on social media as people reorganized their everyday routines. On July 27, 2020, 4-months into the pandemic, Google sent an internal email advising, “To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office.” Many universities are delaying fall move-ins, and it would seem that our previous life patterns may not return anytime soon, if at all.
According to data by Statista about the work situation of US adults during the COVID-19 outbreak, 20% of adults that can work from home or remotely are doing so. The data point is more significant than it looks at first glance because 32% of those polled were unable to work from home, and another 31% were retired. By the most recent numbers, 8% of colleges plan to begin the fall semester completely online while another 21 percent plan a hybrid or mixed online and in-person semester.
You might imagine that a home office is more important now than ever before. People want inspirational spaces, not just functional ones. They are also looking to create spaces with permanence in the home, not a corner table to keep papers. Some families are moving away from major cities given the leeway to work or study from home. Most importantly, office spaces are now evolving into family hubs accommodating working adults and children learning remotely.
Here are 5 tips to help you create the perfect family home office:
1. Find a private space for your home office hub
Start by identifying and then designating a place in your home that’s reserved for one singular purpose: a family home office. Whether it’s a spare room or sitting room, you need to create a quiet space that is just for office work or studying. Designating a specific area will help the family distinguish between work and leisure modes. You don’t want to stare at a sink full of dishes or a big-screen television when trying to focus.
Home office space should also afford a sense of privacy. This secluded space will help avoid disruptive home and work crossovers as well as provide a place to have long stretches of work time. There are many do-it-yourself (DIY) modifications that homeowners can do to repurpose a room for a family office hub. For bigger projects such as a new room over the garage or an extension to the residence, speak to an interior designer or architect, and see how they can help you create more space.
2. Map out what you will do in your family home office
It is important to decide what you will be doing in your office space. If you can go to the office, you may just need room for extra 9-to-5 work. Perhaps you are doing graduate work in the evenings and need a quiet place to take online courses. Some people manage their finances from a home office and pay bills, which require space for stamps, envelopes, and filing cabinets. If students are studying in the home office, it will need lots of light, outlets, and ample writing and reading spaces.
Regardless of what you do in your home office, excellent WiFi is certainly a must. If your work requires a computer, you will need to incorporate space for a desktop or a laptop. Make provisions to boost the WiFi signal if your work requires you to do so, and consider a charging station for your cell phone, spare laptop, or wireless headphones.
3. Clear the clutter as you prepare to set up your home office
Video conferencing calls may well be a fact of life now as people spend more hours working from home. A clear desk will help you focus and project a professional appearance to your colleagues. Situate your desk in a space that is free of over-personalized or distracting décor. Consider the backdrop for the workspace, which will translate to your video conferencing background. If it’s impossible to manage the backdrop, create a virtual background, and upload it via your video conferencing settings.
Look around and clear the clutter that might get in the way of using the writing, reading and technology spaces that you create. Consider desks that have laptop trays so the family can tuck keyboards and laptops away. Use storage spaces for files and make room for printers, routers, and modems. If table space is limited, use wall sconces, floor lamps or overhead lighting to keep surfaces clear.
4. Create an inspirational home office space
Cultivate a home office where you actually want to spend time. Make it your own by incorporating colors, patterns, and textures that inspire. Purchase ergonomic seating, use a functional desk with plenty of storage, and give yourself a view of the outdoors.
If space permits, include elements of comfort, such as a blanket thrown over a chair for long meetings or a chaise lounge for less formal work time. Accent the walls with inspiring images and mementos that keep you going—perhaps favorite family vacations or children playing sports. Hang awards or frame a few photos for a little inspiration while you work.
5. Maximize lighting in your home office
There are many reasons to situate a home office in a location that gets lots of natural sunlight. Studies show that working in natural light helps increase productivity, boosts mood, and enhances sleep at night. In addition to being a natural source of vitamin D, it is also good for the immune system.
Good lighting is also essential for video conferences with clients, coworkers, and business prospects. Make sure to face your best light source to illuminate yourself properly and convey a professional work environment. If your current home office does not have natural lighting, consider whether it is worthwhile to change the location. Another option is to add a light therapy lamp that mimics the sun’s natural rays.
If the pandemic has you rethinking your living space, I would love to show you around some of the beautiful homes available in northern New Jersey. Contact Victoria Carter on (973) 220-3050 or email [email protected].