If you’re one of the millions of Australians who have been asked to work from home as a result of Coronavirus, you might be struggling a little to get your home office set up properly and could use a few tips.
The current COVID-19 situation has required many of us to self-isolate and work from home. Some of us are lucky enough to have a designated study or work area, but for most of us, we’re utilising our couch and coffee tables, dining areas, and some even the odd kitchen counter.
This experience has taught us how setting up a functional home office can be an increasingly valuable asset to your home.
“With more people working and studying from home, the home office is now a central part of the house,” National Communications Manager Stewart Bunn said.
“Home offices have long added value to properties, but it’s hard to consider all the traditional factors in good design when people are scrambling to get set up – especially as so many of us are now video-conferencing to keep Australian business working.
“Buyers have long wanted houses equipped with home offices that deliver a proper working environment. They’ve become as important as a spacious living room, or well-designed kitchen. But if you’ve had to hastily set up your office in the past few weeks, some of your immediate considerations are things like how do I separate my workspace from family interruptions and how can I best position my computer for video conferencing.”
But, if you’re going online to order equipment to improve your set-up, what features are most important in a home office and which are most likely to add long-term value to your home?
“Getting the electrical fittings, layout, lighting and furnishings right are considerations for both the comfort and performance of the person working from home as well as boosting the value of the property, but we have to work on the essentials first” Mr Bunn said. “The serious home office is designed by professionals; in the same way a kitchen or bathroom is.”
First National Real Estate’s tips for establishing a suitable home office include:
Consider the basics. Before renovating a home office, consider issues such as usage patterns, the amount of natural light, proximity to noise, and appropriate entry and exit areas. “Think about how many people will use the room, if additional insulation may be needed to ensure someone can work in peace and privacy, if the room should have separate access, and how natural light will interact with computer screens,” Mr Bunn said. “The well thought out home office is a lot more than a desk and computer. Your computer’s camera should not, for example, be pointed towards a window otherwise your face will be inadequately lit for teleconferencing.”
Consider Occupational Health and Safety regulations. “It can be tempting to by-pass the various regulations businesses are required to meet,” Mr Bunn said. “But safety is a critical feature of a proper home office.” First National Real Estate recommends investing in ergonomically designed furniture, correctly positioned technical components and the accurate positioning of shelving and storage.
Make it comfortable. A good home office will be efficient but not utilitarian, Mr Bunn said. “If the room is also to be used by children to access the computer, plan appropriate seating,” he said. “If it will also act as an adult retreat, consider wiring for another television and even basic kitchen facilities such as a coffee making and mini-bar area so that the room’s potential is fully utilised.”
Mr Bunn said any investment in a professional home office would be likely to be recovered.
“We think it will increasingly become a key selling point, which is why we recommend careful consideration of design issues,” he said.