Six things to consider when setting up a home office


COVID has certainly forced us to make significant changes to our lives in a way we would have never imagined. Many of us have had a taste of working from home and have had to adjust to a new way of balancing work and everyday life.

The "new norm" of working from home, at least part of the time, has presented a variety of challenges, whether it be juggling children and pets or co-working with your spouse or room mate.

We have come to terms with the fact that this new way of life is here to stay for the foreseeable future, along with the realisation that a dedicated workspace is not only essential but a great value-add to any home. Let's look at some home office renovation tips that will allow you to be productive.

cost of setting up a home office

1. Plan it properly

Clearly your requirements for your home office will depend on the type of work you do. You may require both a small desk for your computer and a larger table or workspace for your artwork if you are a graphic artist.

A consultant might require additional space for filing cabinets or an area set aside for meetings with clients. A photographer might require an in-home studio or storage space for props and lighting equipment.

Before you claim a corner in one of your rooms and decide that it's "good enough", create a detailed list to ensure your home office will meet those "must-have" needs.

Converting an existing underutilised space in your home into your home office is ideal, whether it be your garage, spare bedroom or outdoor storage shed.

However, if these options are not available to you, there is always the possibility of extending your home.

From renovating existing areas to building completely new ones, it is important to create a workspace that fulfils your specific requirements, keeping you productive.

2. Lighting

Consider the lighting that is available to the dedicated area.

Do you have enough natural light? If not, you will need to look at the fixtures that are already in place and potentially invest in quality lighting. A mixture of natural light from a window that is supplemented by an additional lighting plan will work well.

To help you avoid glare:
• Use an additional desk lamp for your paperwork. It will cut down on eye strain.
• If you have lighting overhead, make sure it runs parallel to your line of vision to your computer screen.
• Place your desk/workstation in such a way that it runs alongside your window.

3. Storage

We all talk about a paperless office these days; but the reality for many of us is still a significant paper trail. If keeping paper documents on hand is a requirement for you to function, you will need to consider your storage options.

Consider open shelves, boxes, baskets, desk drawers or desk organisers.

Built-in storage or cabinetry will save on space as the area you dedicate to your home office may not be spacious. You will then need to be creative. For example, if your home office has a staircase, the space underneath the stairs is ideal to build a wall-mounted desk that includes shelving and some storage.

4. Desk

Your desk is very important in enabling you to settle into your work. Looking for something more streamlined with no clutter?

Opt for a simple desk with a few shelves and cabinets to create a functional workspace. If you require something larger or if space is not a concern, go for the largest desk that fits in your space comfortably. For greater work surface, built-in desks are better options since you can customise the design.

A standing desk is also a great option to alleviate sitting for long periods of time. It will enable you to move around while working.

5. Aesthetics

Given you will be spending a lot of time in this space, go for some creature comforts.

Adding anything that aligns with your style can be perfect for your home office. Consider your personality and whether minimalist with monochrome colour schemes suit, or perhaps a soft colour palette with some inspirational quotes above your desk that will give you the positive energy for your workday.

Additionally, add some plants for the organic character of your home office - after all, it is proven that they lower workplace stress and enhance productivity.

6. Extra furniture

When renovating your home office, the idea is to create a space where you can be comfortable as well as productive.

To create a sleek and minimalist space, it is best to apply the "less is more" motto, with well-defined lines and furniture that seamlessly blends with everything else in the room.

A clean and well-organised office such as this is bound to create a productive environment. There is no reason why your functional and productive workspace can't look elegant and sophisticated.

For those who require a home office but have no spare space to convert, the best solution is often to extend their home.

The best part about an extension is that your space can be crafted from scratch to match your specifications and needs. It can be as big or small as you need it to be and have the ideal shape and design to make it as efficient as possible.

How much it costs

Renovation costs for a home office space vary depending on your requirements.

Are you transforming a bedroom? Adding a wall in a living space? Installing a new window, maybe? Costs you will need to consider include electricity, demolition and structural elements.

Indicative costs of a home office project include (but are not limited to):

Converting a bedroom to a home office will cost an average of $3500, whereas building a home office from scratch can be substantially more and vary from $18,000 to $35,000 and more, depending on the extravagance and size of your new space.

There are so many ways in which you can make your dedicated home office space productive, throwing in your personal touch to make it comfortable and functional.

Whether you work full-time from home or need to complete work at home from time to time, a dedicated home office is a significant value-add to the modern home. A well-designed home office will have a direct impact on the quality and quantity of the work you produce.

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Tracie Ellis is the founder and CEO of Renovators Directory the platform that brings together business owners in the renovation sector and consumers requiring their services. She is also the managing director of TAE Projects. Tracie has had a long career in construction and is well respected for her industry knowledge.