Work From Home Is Here to Stay
According to the 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, a report from the National Association of Realtors, the median distance between the home that recent buyers purchased and the home they moved from was around 50 miles—previously, the median was 15 miles.
For perspective, that’s like moving from Denver to Loveland.
What’s behind this change? The most likely conclusion is the pandemic. Millions of people went fully remote during the lockdown and millions now remain fully work from home or have a hybrid schedule. And it has allowed people to buy homes further away from jobs in major metro areas.
In fact, research shows that around 5% of full-time work was done from home in 2019. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that number increased to over 60% by April and May of 2020.
As the world and workplaces reopened, the number has come down greatly—yet experts predict full-time remote will stabilize at about 25% with even more workers having a hybrid schedule.
Whether you’re part of that twenty-five percent or now work from home just a couple of days a week, a comfortable home office is essential. Even if you’ve thus far managed from a makeshift desk in your bedroom or taken over the dining room table, it’s time for a long-term setup.
To help you out, let’s take a look at the five key elements of the perfect home office.
1) The Right Location
Like anything in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Ideally, you want a dedicated area where you have privacy, minimal distractions, and great natural light.
If you have a spare or guest bedroom, that’s perfect. If there’s a bed in there, consider switching it out for a daybed, pullout couch, or even a Murphy bed. That’ll give you more room to make the room feel first and foremost like an office.
Don’t have a spare room? Perhaps, you can take over your unused formal living or dining room, a rarely used breakfast nook, or that weird corner of your living room that’s more of a pass-through.
You can also post up in that nook under the stairs, or the landing above. A closet used for storage could also be cleaned out and transformed into a cute “cloffice.” Get creative!
2) The Right Workspace
Once you’ve chosen a room or carved out a spot, it’s time to set up a workspace that balances comfort, function, as well as style.
Buy, build, or thrift a desk with more than enough surface and storage space. If you take over the dining room, feel free to swap out that table for a proper desk or some sort of hutch situation that allows you to close up shop and “leave” the office every day. And go with an adjustable desk if you want to stretch your legs throughout the day.
Because you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting, invest in a comfortable chair with good lumbar support. You may be surprised at how expensive this can get, so keep an eye out for bargains on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Letgo—wherever your shop for used local items.
Bring in a filing cabinet, bookshelf, desk organizers, and whatever you need to corral the clutter. And top it all off with great lighting. While you might have overhead or light from a window, you may need a desk lamp for reading or jotting down notes, or just for a little ambiance.
3) The Right Equipment
A powerful computer is essential. While cost is absolutely a factor, it’s best to invest in the most reliable hardware. Beyond laptop or desktop, and Mac or Windows operating system, research and choose the right processor, memory, storage and graphics card for your specific needs.
If you’re used to working on a laptop, adding a second or even third monitor is a new frontier. You can have chat screens, along with your browser, docs and spreadsheets, all within easy view and reach. Just make sure you get the right ports/cables to connect monitors to your computer.
Don’t forget to check your home’s WiFi speed to prevent lag, especially if your work involves downloading or uploading large files from the cloud or a remote server. You may need to upgrade to a new router or add an extender if your office is located far from your router.
Get an ergonomic mouse and keyboard (Bluetooth for less cord clutter). Add a printer that scans and makes copies if those are bells and whistles you use often. On the phone or frequently have Zoom meetings? Get a comfortable headset or earbuds with a built-in mic.
4) The Right Vibe
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your space needs to feel like a boring office. This is your opportunity to create an inspiring space that reflects your personality and style. Here are a few ideas:
- Paint a wall (or all of them), add a neon sign, wood detailing, or a funky wallpaper
- Bring in plants for color and air purification, faux if you don’t have a green thumb
- Use lamps for mood lighting instead of sitting under glaring overhead lights
- Add a couch or comfy chairs so you can take a break from working at your desk
- Hang energizing artwork or family photos that inspire you and make you smile
- Put down a rug that adds color and texture, as well as a cozy, comfortable feel
- Office supplies can now be found in a rainbow of colors, choose your favs
- Add Bluetooth speakers that give music a richer sound than computer speakers
- Bring in bonuses like a record player or coffee maker, perhaps a mini fridge
Finally, play around with your layout to make the space feel more inviting. Your desk doesn’t need to face a wall or window. With the right cord management, you can easily float it out in the middle of the room to give you more space to breathe and move around.
5) The Right Routine
It’s easy to fall into the trap of waking up five minutes before your work day begins and basically spending the entire day in your pajamas. It’s also easy to lose track of time and continue working well past standard business hours. Boundaries easily get blurred.
The key is to create a balanced routine. The challenge is to maintain it.
As if you were going into work, set an alarm to wake up at the same time each day. Get ready and dressed. Have your coffee or breakfast. Officially “clock in” when a normal work day starts.
Use a pen and paper, or apps like Trello or Asana, to plan your day. Create a realistic to-do list for each day (as work allows) and prioritize your tasks.
Take a proper morning break. Then lunch. Then an afternoon break. Get away from your desk. Throw in laundry, do yoga or stretch, make an epic sandwich, or just sit on your front porch and scroll social media. In the long run, it will make you more productive.
Along the way, keep your workspace clean and free of clutter. And at the end of the day, turn your computer off, tidy up and file away papers, and walk away. Go home. Go hang out with friends or family. Make dinner. Use the time you’re not driving home in traffic wisely.
While working from home can be an incredible experience, it does take some time to dial in the perfect home office and daily regimen for long-term success.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get things off to a great start.