The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly shown homeowners the need to create alternative spaces in their homes. Many have identified the need for mudrooms, storage pantries, upgraded guest rooms, backyard play areas, learning areas for children, and even home offices. Major companies around the U.S. have been shifting away from needing to bring employees back into the office after finding that there hasn’t been a significant decrease in productivity during the pandemic. This potentially could mean the shutdown of expensive office real estate around the country as the recession will take its toll.
As architects we are asked to see the creative solutions in everything while managing codes, life safety, the environmental impacts, and economic indicators. It is our belief, at AGD, that providing innovation at home for times like these is an exact representation of the creative solution calling mentioned. There is no solution two small for anyone with architectural training to partake.
Our solution to the need for a Home Office comes down to three questions that must be answered to identify how to design this space. First, if you have a smaller home with limited funds where can you create space for an office? Second, if your business still requires privacy and personal meetings how do you adapt rooms in your home to become your “corner office with a view”? Third, will this be a permanent solution?
The best options we have found for potentially temporary solutions with limited funds is to create an office space in an unused or underutilized closet. This is a great option to store needed equipment out of sight when your family is around. This organizes clutter and does not costs much. It also does not require permitting for any construction in your home.
If you require a bigger space it is good to look at a construction budget to tell you if the backyard office shed is a solution or if adding a bedroom to your home will be possible. Do not forget that adding a bedroom will help with resale while adding a larger space in a hallway or to an existing room may not. Get value out of your project.
All designs should incorporate views and daylight when possible. Building in storage shelves or bookcases will not only improve your organization but can also come in handy as a backdrop for Zoom meetings or recordings. Shelves and furnishings also help with mitigating noise. Lastly, the connection with nature through biophilic design is important. The views through windows are one thing. Adding plants and greenery will help a lot, as well.
No matter the solution for your home office, make sure that it is right for you. We spend most of our waking hours in our offices (speaking from experience) and a well designed office space will change your life. It does not have to change your pocketbook, and it should never negatively change the environment.