Prior to COVID-19 a mere 7 percent – or about 10 million out of 140 million American workers – had jobs that offered the ability to work from home (according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center). Today, research conducted by the online real estate marketplace company Zillow indicates that more than half of those employed in this country are working remotely, with a significant percentage signifying they will continue to do so for the open-ended future.
As such, designated and functional work-from-home spaces have never been more sought after than now. In fact, real estate professionals are predicting that the home office is here to stay for the long term with many agents encouraging sellers to dedicate and stage a room as an office when putting their house on the market.
And the real estate market is hotter than ever, as an increasing number of people trade urban dwellings for life in the suburbs where homes are larger and better able to accommodate a home office.
But there’s more to consider than adequate space when setting up a home office, beginning with location. Quiet is key to working productively. If possible, select a room that is distanced from high-traffic spaces. Setting up shop next to the kitchen or living room where noise levels are most high should be avoided, when possible.
So, what are the essentials to outfit a home office? Begin with a good lighting source. Sufficient indirect light is necessary but avoid working under the glare of overhead lights. Create ambient light with well-placed lamps and/or adjustable desk lamps that can place light directly where you need it. And don’t overlook the many benefits of natural lighting from windows or skylights.
And what’s a home office without a desk at the proper height? While industry standard is 29 inches from the floor to the top of the work surface, the taller among us do better with a higher height and conversely, the shorter with a lower height. No question, the properly adjusted desk can help with both posture and productivity and today many desks are available with adjustable height.
Desk: check. Now for a good desk chair. Just like desks, chairs are not one-size-fits-all commodities. Be sure to select an ergonomically designed chair with adjustable height, one that offers lumbar support and that can roll. An adjustable seat pan tilt, arm height and lateral arm position are extras well worth the investment considering the number of hours a week spent in it.
Shelving is another must for the home office – at the bare minimum one shelf will do depending on space and storage needs.
A major advantage of working from home is total control over office appearance. Personal touches like pictures, paintings, plants and other décor can all add a layer of informality to the environment, but avoid making it too casual, especially if video conferencing is a regular part of the daily schedule.
There is no doubt that working from home is a trend – or rather a theme – that will remain for years to come. Be it a dedicated home office or a double-duty guest room/office, the importance of a designated workspace is not going away.