Making the change to a home office was similar to moving into a new home. At first, it seemed simple: just set up and get to work. Then, it seemed like a huge task as I realized there was more to working at home than opening a laptop on the desk. But in the end I embraced the challenge and everything turned out better than expected. Putting together a home office is an exciting adventure, with a few key details to consider.
Is your home office-ready?
Many homes really aren’t compatible with the home office ideal. It’s necessary to have a spare room that is totally unused. Those with kids may find this difficult with playrooms and den areas using up their extra bedrooms. A guest bedroom will suffice, but a spare room with no furniture would be the perfect blank slate. Consider whether the house really has enough spare room for an ideal office. Try not to have the door to the office even opening onto the main living areas, as this makes the worker seem accessible for any and every need. A room down the hall with the bedrooms is best to ensure uninterrupted work time, but leaves you accessible for emergencies.
Many people assume that working from home will be just like working at the office but don’t take any steps to make it so. Setting up shop in the living room or kitchen may work well for some, but the majority of people can’t concentrate in such a setting. Especially with a spouse or kids at home, simply setting your “work hours” is not a solution.
There is too much temptation to take breaks, interact with the family, or help around the house. These activities shouldn’t enter one’s mind while at the office. The “out of sight; out of mind” philosophy is why separate offices are so prevalent even among the self-employed. This is why I knew there needed to be a clear divide between my living space and office space. Luckily, the house had the perfect spare bedroom set back from the living areas across the upstairs hall from the master bedroom.
Setting up the Office
First there was the problem of the bed. That was the most difficult part of setting up the office. Most people end up putting their home office into a spare bedroom, but being crowded into the corner by a queen bed made it hard to consider the room as “office space.” The solution was obvious, but deciding to take on such a big home improvement was difficult. Realizing the bed had to go was a moment of clarity: the home office was an investment that needed real work.
I replaced the huge queen bed with a “Murphy Bed.” A Murphy Bed is one of those old-style beds that folds up into the wall when not in use. There are a huge number of DIY versions available online, but not being much of a handyman I simply bought one with the easiest installation method. Once it was secured to the wall and folded up, the room opened with possibilities. A work desk was a must, and an office chair. Nothing focuses the mind like sitting down in a rolling office chair at a real desk. I recommend buying your office desk online because you can find the best deals and if you need a specific size desk they are easier to find.
It All Worked Out
The carefully considered setup of the home office paid off. We set “office hours” which are adhered to as much as is possible. Of course part of the joy of a home office is the ability to run some errands, take care of the kids, or sign for a package mid-day, but for the most part when the work begins there are few interruptions. Away from the hustle and bustle of the household, and with daily life “out of sight” it’s easy to relax into the office mental space and get to work.
Unlike most people working from home, I haven’t found that the hours have expanded. The forethought and care put into setting up an office space pays off with increased productivity, meaning shorter work hours overall. I can confidently say that this wouldn’t have been the case had we put the “office” in our living room or kitchen. The “apart” aspect of the office is what makes it work. But it does work, and I’d recommend setting up a true home office to anyone who wants or needs to be home during the day.