The Home-office Evolution - October 2022
October 20, 2022 / Written by Rich Harvey
Before the pandemic, working from home wasn’t the norm. In fact, most workers actively avoided bringing work into the home so it wouldn’t interfere with family life.
But that all changed in 2020. When stay-at-home orders were issued, we found ourselves logging onto IKEA and JB HiFi to help us set up a desk and plug into the work server. That way we could be productive while isolated.
Now, in late 2022, remote working is no longer mandatory for the average employee… but a funny thing has happened. Society has taken to the idea and workers are actively seeking work-from-home arrangements from their employers.
And the statistics tell the story.
ABS data shows that on census night in August 2021, approximately one in five Aussies worked from home. That number rises to one in four when looking at metropolitan centres.
Hybrid work weeks are now entrenched with employees splitting their work time between home and the office. A survey by the company Adaptavist showed Australia had a higher percentage of hybrid workers at 34 per cent compared to the US, UK and Canada all of which averaged around 29 per cent. The survey also showed 50 per cent of employers were offering hybrid work options to staff. The study indicated around half of Australian workers want a work-from-home component in their employment as well.
The home office evolves
As you can see, we are in a new era. As such, properties that prioritise working from home as part of their design are gaining an advantage in the market.
Long gone are the days of setting up on the dining table. The level of distraction is too great and the inability to create workable space with enough connectivity, power points and space was frustrating. Who wants to pack up their laptop every afternoon at 3:45pm because the kids are home from school and getting restless?
No. Premium-priced homes are acknowledging that design incorporating work productivity while in the house is essential.
To that end, here are some key evolutions in office design that have become expected in the market.
Silence is golden
Noise reduction around the workspace is essential when you’re part of a bustling household.
Not so many years ago, families craved open-plan design. Rooms felt more spacious and allowed for easier interaction between everybody, even during meal preparation times.
But this shared isn’t great for workspaces.
Now it’s an imperative to have a dedicated area for work. It should be well away from the hubbub of family life or, at the very least, well insulated to keep the noise outside.
Storage, space and power
Adapting a spare bedroom to become the office is fine. They are often roomy enough, but you must also invest in connectivity.
A home office needs to be able to get a decent WIFI signal or, even better, be hardwired into the modem so you can stay connected.
Also, appropriate furnishings are essential. You don’t need to spend thousands on bespoke cabinetry. A well-positioned desk and standalone bookshelves are a great start. Using flatpack cabinets that meet your needs can be an inexpensive solution.
Finally, plenty of power points for running the printer, laptop and phone charger will be a must.
Light, air and climate control
Being situated in your home’s basement isn’t the most conducive for productive work.
Try and make the home office somewhere that’s light and airy to keep your mind clear and thoughts focussed. Having some sort of view gives plenty of inspiration too. Be able to open a window and catch some breezes.
Also, air conditioning is a must. You need to be able to cool and heat throughout all seasons. Sweating through a QLD summer or freezing in a Melbourne winter will hardly help you get that work report out by deadline.
Separation from the bedroom
This is another element which is sometimes not factored in by designers, but it should be.
I know of plenty of work-from-homers who need a little distance from their sleeping area. If the commute from your bed to your work desk is only a few metres, cabin fever will set in quickly. It shouldn’t feel like you live in the same few square metres 24 hours a day.
While you’re at it, make sure the office has a closable door. It’s not just for noise insulation. There’s a psychological benefit to being able to close the door at end the workday. It signals you are stepping away from business and toward your family.
This is another element we‘re increasingly seeing in upwardly mobile households.
Many households are double income, and couples don’t always want to share a workspace. So, two offices are being allowed for in smart design to meet this demand.
Separate offices allow you and your significant other to have individual areas for productivity. It permits you to make calls, speak freely, and do whatever quirks help get your creativity going. If five minutes of juggling gives your mind a reset that’s great for you but it might be a bit distracting for your co-working partner.
I suspect we’ll increasingly see double-office design become the norm.
Face it, the work-from-home lifestyle is here to stay, so making allowance for it in home design is crucial.
It’s not just about improving your own life either. Properties that make this element a priority will be far more rentable and/or saleable both now and in the future. So, getting it right is extremely important.
If you don’t have the means or inclination to extend and renovate your way to a great home workspace, then perhaps it’s time to upgrade your house.
A buyers’ agent can help identify the best possible property for your circumstances. One that will be a home delivering on both the work and family front, and that will maintain its market appeal for decades to come.
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