Remote work is increasingly common. Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work in the U.S. That’s millions of people working outside of the office, often from their own homes. Those who want to design their new house for working from home could benefit from this round-up of top considerations.
First, a couple more interesting trends among remote employees and the changes in how we work. For one thing, virtual work is more common for people who live in cities with high income levels. After all, remote employees are often knowledge workers (such as engineers or accountants). We’re already incorporating home offices into our builds around Charleston, SC, Charlotte, and the Raleigh-Durham area in NC.
Working remotely is not a flash-in-the-pan trend. Of 2,500 respondents in a 2019 survey, “99% said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.”
Why? Because employees typically enjoy a more flexible schedule, greater autonomy, and reduced workplace stress.
Remote work also offers the business benefits. In fact, the remote worker is actually more productive. This can be because they have more difficulty unplugging. But, according to Stanford University study, the productivity increase among remote workers is equivalent to an extra day per person per week.
A research finding that really resonated with us at Saussy Burbank is that “remote workers may have location flexibility, but they love to stay home.”
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is mentally differentiating when they “are on the clock” from when they are not. It’s a good idea to create a distinct space for work from home. Designating an area your home office space can help ensure you are actually working when you’re able to convince your bosses and colleagues to let you work from home.
Home builders make conscious decisions about where to lay emphasis in their designs. When it comes to emphasizing a space as a place to work, it can help to make the desk the focal point of the room.
Plan the space to be a functional one that lets you keep clutter to a minimum as well. Ideally, you’re not cramming your computer into a room alongside the washer and dryer or with your bicycles and tool boxes.
Avoid designing a home office that is too small and cramped. If the space you are going to spend hours of your day is unwelcoming and uncomfortable, it will be harder to motivate to get work done.
Working from home, while it provides flexibility, can also mean struggling with more distractions. In designing a home with space to work, don’t underestimate the importance of being able to close a door. You’re a lot less likely to end up arguing with kids about allowance or dealing with barking dog distractions during a conference call if you can close yourself off from the rest of the household when needed.
A home office with lots of natural light can also help your mental health (unless you’re a photographer in need of a dark room). A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found office workers with windows get 46 more minutes of sleep a night on average and tended to exercise more. Both of these have big psychological and physical benefits.
Designing a home office with abundant natural light can also help you keep some potted plants in your work space. Research tells us that being around plants can help us better manage stress and refocus our energy. “Psychologists have found that bringing some flora into a workspace can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.”
If you’re looking to build a smart home, think about what that will mean also for your home office technology. You’ll want to be sure the space for your home office has the power plugs you need for changing that desktop, printer, scanner, smartphone, laptop, tablet, smartwatch…the list goes on.
Voice controlled virtual home assistants can be useful too. In planning the design, you can be thinking about our Wi-Fi network needs. Perhaps you’ll need separate Wi-Fi networks to accommodate your work-related devices without fear of competing with another family member simultaneously streaming of all of the Lord of the Rings movies.
You may even need to design a co-working space if more than one individual in the house is going to work remotely. Or maybe you need to plan for the possibility of welcoming clients or colleagues into your home office for meetings.
It’s always best to think long-term when designing a home. Maybe your business hasn’t grown to its full potential. You don’t want to have to move from your dream home down the road because you didn’t dream big about the potential for your business and work from home.