Create the most efficient use of space for a successful homeworking environment.

Some of you might be able to switch off from all distractions and knuckle down for the 9-to-5, but the biggest drawback with working from home is keeping your attention on the matter at hand. 

A home office needs to be a personal space where you can concentrate without being interrupted every half an hour by the dog wanting a walk or another episode of A Place In The Sun. Whether it’s the new normal or just a temporary measure, homeworking has suddenly become a consideration for employers across the world. 

Why a home office?

Thousands of new jobs have been listed as ‘remote working’ as more and more people re-evaluate the way they work. 

Is it enough to set up with a laptop on your sofa? Has the dining room table been transformed into a workstation? We’ve seen some surprising and innovative office space on our video calls lately, but here’s what you might want to consider when making the transition to working from home. 

Things to consider

You’ll be saving money on your commute, saving on parking, and your lunch break might suddenly become a lot cheaper – but have you thought about the areas where spending might increase?

Electricity bills will increase just from having the computer on all day, the lights on, and the kettle’s workload may be increasing too. If you’re going to be at home all the time, look at energy-saving measures that will keep your costs down. Similarly, if you’re on the phone a lot more, you may want to consider having a landline in your new office. 

Perhaps most importantly, however, is your comfort. There aren’t many places more comfortable than the sofa (the bed, perhaps), but hours a day hunched over a laptop isn’t going to help in the long run. 

Buy your desk and work chair together where possible to make sure you are working at the right height, but any surface you’re using as a desktop needs to be a good height for ergonomic purposes. It’s worthwhile to invest in a good quality chair too, because you could be spending many hours in it now.

Easy ideas and top tips

Think about your normal day in the office – do you keep files on your desk or file paperwork in drawers? Do you write ideas on a whiteboard? Do you like to keep some snacks to hand? 

If it helps you work, then it’s worth setting space aside in your new office. 

Are you going to be doing many video calls with important clients? You may be able to hide wearing your slippers, but the growing piles of ironing won’t be so easy. Make sure you give some consideration to the best place to host your calls or a simple way to tidy your space up.

Make the garage or loft your new domain

Janine Toms, from Carlisle-based Croft View Construction, says: “Most of us have a room or a space in our home that we don’t utilise properly, perhaps because we don’t have the time or inclination to sort out. Garages are often underutilised – our cars don’t fit comfortably in them, perhaps. 

“We need some storage for the deck chairs that we dust off twice a year and the bike that we bought last spring with a view to riding a different route every weekend. But if you’re looking for extra space for an office, a garage conversion doesn’t mean losing the whole garage. You can convert and split it – half for your office with a window overlooking the prettiest aspect, and half for deck chairs, bikes, the lawnmower, or even a laundry room or downstairs shower room. The possibilities are endless.”

If you’re having a room in your house totally transformed into a workspace, or perhaps half a bedroom is now an en-suite office, think about what equipment will be in there once you’re all set up and ready to go.

Janine adds: “You need to think about what’s important to you, such as peace and quiet, how much space you need to work in, and even how many sockets you’ll need for the many and various devices your work requires. You’ll need to think about how you’ll access the internet and phones.”

Take your work into the garden

We’ve all been at work on a sunny day looking out of the window and wishing we could be out there enjoying it. As far as desk-work goes, being outside seems like the impossible dream. 

However, those with the space should certainly consider the possibility of a garden office. 

A simple transformation of a shed might tick some of the boxes, but for many, a tailor-made building would be the best way to keep work and home separate.

Lynn Fotheringham, from Over Kellet, who is editor of The Independent Guide to Garden Offices, says: “Budget is the most important factor when choosing a garden office. However, if you buy a ready to install office from a manufacturer that seems too good to be true it probably is. 

“There are many routes to choosing a garden office, from installing a shed and insulating it yourself, buying an office from a garden office company or employing an architect to design one for you. The choice depends upon your budget and how practical you are.”

Lynn’s 5 key considerations for a successful garden office

  1. Does the office of your choice need planning permission? Check with your local authority.
  2. Even if the office doesn’t need planning permission, are you positioning it considerately so that you don’t impinge upon your neighbours too much?
  3. Don’t position your office so that it gets full sun through the windows at the height of the day, if you can avoid it. 
  4. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of the foundations and the electrical connection. The connection must be done by a qualified electrician.
  5. Is the building sound proof enough? You can’t expect the children next door to stop playing in the garden, or people not to use lawnmowers just because you’re working in your garden.
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