Home office design tipsTips and Advice, Lifestyle
In today’s world home offices are very commonplace. Even those who have an external office still like to have a space to work from at home.
But what few people realise is the importance of good design when it comes to building a home office.
Whilst running a business from home makes good economic sense as it dramatically lowers overheads, your home office also needs to be functional and comfortable, otherwise productivity, and therefore profits, will be adversely affected.
After all, there are few things more frustrating than being uncomfortable or distracted when you are trying to work.
If you run a business from home, and your business is important to you, then you simply cannot afford to skimp on the design of your home office.
So let’s look at just some of the factors that need to be considered when creating a home office.
Our Home Office Design Tips focus on the following considerations:
One of the first things that needs to be considered is how you prefer to work. Do you prefer privacy and peace and quiet, or do you prefer to have some connection to the rest of the house and the people within your home? Or perhaps there are times where you need to be isolated from the noise and goings on of the household, but at other times you want to feel included.
Understanding the way you prefer to work allows for a home office to be designed that caters to your needs. If you are someone who is easily distracted, or perhaps a writer that needs peace and quiet, you will probably want a home office that has a high degree of separation from the main living areas of the home.
Of course, you may, at times, need isolation, whereas other times you would like to feel more connected to the other occupants of the house. In this situation solutions like sliding doors or windows, shutters or operable walls or rotating bookshelves, like those commonly seen in the movies, can help you achieve seclusion when necessary and inclusion at all other times. The advantage of this system is that it allows your home office to double as a homework space for the kids whilst still keeping a connection to the rest of the home. Commonly when used in this way bi-folding timber framed obscure glass doors are used to privatise the area when needed.
Following on from how you like to work, the next step in the process is to look at the other occupants of your home. If you are a single person, or have a husband or wife who also works, either from home or in an external job, then privacy is potentially not a major issue. However, if you have young children, regardless of whether or not they are school age, noise and distraction issues will probably need to be addressed.
Of course, it’s not only about you, the person working from home. The needs and lifestyles of the other occupants of the home need to be kept in mind as well. For example, it is not reasonable to expect children to sit quietly during office hours. Similarly, if you work odd hours, such as early mornings, or late into the night, it is not reasonable to expect the people you live with to be woken by phone calls, or other office noises.
By understanding the lifestyles and interests of the people who share your home, it is possible to produce an office that accommodates everyone’s needs.
Regardless of how removed your office is from the main living areas of your home, external noises still need to be considered.
The sounds of televisions, computer games, people talking and children playing can all create challenges for the home office. But other external factors need to be taken into account as well. Road noise can be a distraction, as can noisy neighbours. Even if your neighbours are typically quiet, there is no guarantee that they will live there forever.
Of course, there can be limitations to where your office can be placed in terms of noise reduction. It is not uncommon that homes have no practical areas that are noise free. In this situation noise insulation is often the best option. Soundproofing insulation can be applied to walls, floors, doors, windows and even ceilings if required, can allow you to work without distraction regardless of external noises.
When designing your perfect home office, thought also needs to be given to light levels, and the type of lighting that you prefer.
Whilst many people would choose natural lighting for their office, others prefer to be able to control light levels using a switch on the wall. At any rate, it is not uncommon that some form of electric lighting is required to supplement natural lighting levels, particularly for those who don’t always work during standard business hours.
The position of your home office in relation to available natural light sources is an important consideration any way you look at it. In addition to this, there are many types and styles of light fittings that can make your workspace more functional. All of these options need to be explored if your home office is to lend itself to productive output.
Room temperature is another important consideration when designing a home office. Ideally, most people will want to keep their power bills down, by removing the need to air-conditioning or artificial heating as much as possible.
Positioning your office so that it does not heat up like an oven in summer, yet still manages to capture cooling breezes, can go a long way towards achieving this aim. Ideally, your office will still get the benefits of warming winter sunlight, allowing you to use any artificial heating/cooling sparingly without compromising on your personal comfort.
Home Office Outlook:
If you are the type of person who needs inspiration when you work, then the outlook from your office will be an important factor in the overall design of your home office.
Obviously not everybody has the luxury of ocean views, or scenic mountains and fields; however, that does not mean that the view from their office needs to be unpleasant. Using some forethought and careful planning it is possible to create an inspiring outlook by utilising a courtyard, or a view of your own backyard.
Often people operating businesses from home do not need to meet with clients on their premises. But there may still be times when you will need to, and besides, wouldn’t it be nice to have that option?
By planning for this eventuality from the outset, it is possible to create a design that allows for external access to your home office, without clients needing to walk through your home.
It is fair to say that most people running home businesses do so by themselves, or with their partner. However, even businesses that start off small can soon grow to the point where at least some additional employees are required. And whilst many people at that stage choose to move out into an external office, it is not always practical, nor necessary to do so.
If there is a chance that you might want to have one or more additional employees at some point in the future, then it is worth planning for that right from the outset. Even if you do not go ahead and build a larger home office at this stage, by considering the possibility now it is possible to create a home office design that will enable you to easily expand to cater for additional staff in the future.
As you can see there are many, many factors that go into planning a home office. And given the importance of your business (it is most likely your livelihood after all), then clearly the design of your home office will be crucial to your future financial success.
DION SEMINARA, DION SEMINARA ARCHITECTURE
Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.