With mobile technology, it’s easy to work in any room of a house. And yet, the home office is becoming one of a home’s must-have features.
Dedicated office space might not always be a full room. In fact, it might be a nook with desk space on the landing of a staircase or a corner of a bedroom or family room. As people do more work away from the office and kids do more work outside of the library, the home office is growing in importance. Some say it is as essential as the family room no matter how large of a home it is, from a small apartment to a large single-family home.
There’s also some evidence that home offices can make a home more attractive to buyers. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost versus Value report, you can recover an average 48.9% of the cost of a home office remodel at resale. A midrange office remodel, as defined by the report, is a $28,000 investment that involves installing custom cabinets that include 20 feet of laminate desktop, a computer workstation and wall cabinet storage, along with rewiring of the room for computer, fax machine, cable and telephone lines.
If you don’t currently have a home office but want to kick off 2015 with your own workspace take a look around your home, it’s possible you have a hint of space here or there that can be transformed with the addition of a desk. You may find the room in a nook under the stairs…
For those of you that have a home office, use these tips make your home office work better for you.
1. Look at nature or water. Looking at green, leafy scenes helps us de-stress and restocks our mental energy, something that gets depleted when we perform knowledge work. No nature to look at? Add a fountain with burbling water outside your window, if possible. Even three or four green, leafy plants in your field of view are better than nothing.
2. Use unpainted wood. Seeing wood grain while working calms us in the same way that nature views do.
3. Stare into the distance. Most people stare at computer screens and cubicle walls all day. But it’s important to look up from your work and stare several yards into the distance. This allows your eyes rest. The 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes stare at something 20 yards away for 20 seconds — can help reduce eye strain.
4. Use reconfigurable furnishings. Control of our environment has been linked to improved professional performance. This means leaving yourself options to rearrange things and move around as you work. A rolling chair and multiple work surfaces will give you the freedom to switch positions and manage tasks more efficiently.
5. Build in options. Go for built-in shelves or drawers, or create a whole new room using extra space for a home office.
6. Paint the walls green. Seeing greens on surfaces has been linked to thinking creatively. The sage color on these walls is pleasant and energizing enough to optimize performance. The red flowers have to go, however. Seeing even a small amount of red, even briefly, diminishes performance on analytical tasks, according to recent psychological research.
7. Show yourself the door. Whenever possible, you should have a view of the door to the room in which you’re working (along with that nature view). We humans tend to get a little on edge if we can’t be sure that someone’s not creeping up on us — and that distracts us from the work at hand. Combining both is tricky, however. When you must choose, choose to look outside.