More of us are working from home than ever before. According to data gathered by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people working from home has grown by 103 percent since 2005 (and that’s not including those who are self-employed). In total, 3.7 million employees (2.8 percent of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. So where are they working and what does that space look like? If you work from home, or are considering making the switch, home office design is likely on your mind — namely, how to design a home office that will minimize your distractions, increase your productivity and inspire your creativity.
Here are five tips to consider for your next home office design project:
1. Create a Dedicated Space
Homeowners today often use rooms for multiple purposes. If you only use your home office for tasks like paying bills, checking email or occasionally working from home, you can get by with this setup. If working from home is your bread and butter, then you may need a dedicated space to minimize distractions. Preferably, you want your home office to be away from any hubbub or chaos. If you don’t have the luxury of choosing the location of your home office, think about ways to create boundaries for your design — both physical (a door that closes) and psychological (making it clear to others in the household that your office is a quiet space). Unless you need it for work purposes, avoid putting a TV in your office. If you need to block out background noise, consider playing quiet music or using a noisemaker.
2. Consider the Psychology of Color
Before you paint the walls, consider what research has shown about different color associations. For example, the color blue tends to inspire creativity, while the color green has a calming effect. And red? It can awaken your inner fire and drive. Like the recent book Drunk Tank Pink points out, details as subtle as wall color can greatly affect your psychological state. The reason “drunk tanks” at jails have historically been painted pink is because pink walls have been proven to calm people down and make them feel physically weaker. Start by asking yourself how you want to feel in your home office space, and then design around a color that will bring out that emotion.
3. Think Outside the Box for Creative Reuse
If you browse online long enough, you’ll find a lot of ideas on how to creatively repurpose old pieces of furniture, household items, salvaged lumber and building materials. The trend of repurposing items in unexpected ways is big. Old doors can be made into desks, skateboards can be made into benches and wood pallets can be made into shelves — the possibilities are endless. Salvaged furniture isn’t for everyone, but if your job requires you to channel creativity, having a fun, creative environment that’s full of unexpected and interesting details (that are still functional) can help boost your productivity.
4. Have the Right Equipment and Organize It Effectively
Getting all of your technology organized can be a challenge. But even once you have the tech stuff figured out, there are a number of more practical, logistical details to figure out. Cords from computers, printers, chargers, lights, fans and other devices can be a major eyesore. From labeling power strips to wrapping unruly cords with binder clips, keeping your home office space organized will help you to do your best, most creative work in the space without feeling overwhelmed.
5. Consider Resale
Creating a home office purely for the sake of reselling your home is probably not in your best interest. If selling your home is on your mind and you don’t need a home office, you’re far better off leaving that space as a bedroom. “An office isn’t going to sell a home, but a bedroom could,” says Jackie Patrick, senior sales vice president at Star One Realtors in Cincinnati. Buyers will always find a way to create a home office if they need one. However, if you need a home office for your job, design a fantastic one with the idea that you could sell the space in the future. This will help you to create a neutral design that will lead to the highest return on your investment.
Whether you work from home or just need a nook where you can sit and pay your bills, a home office is a great dedicated working space to have. To design a space that will give you the most return on your investment, follow these tips and considerations. And if you don’t have room in your current home for your own office, consider starting to search for a larger home on Owners.com.