Top tips for planning the perfect home office

Over recent months it’s been interesting to follow the posts of homeworkers who have been brave enough to show the reality of their workspace outside of the Zoom window: Laptops placed on makeshift piles of toilet rolls; quiet spaces created in the corners of bathrooms; ironing boards turned into desks. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to think differently about how and where we work.

Many will be dreaming of the day when they can hot-foot it back to the relative tranquillity of a shared office, complete with desk dividers and canteen coffee. However, for others, the mould has been broken. So perhaps now is the perfect time to make home-working part of the ‘new norm’ by creating a workspace that’s individual, tailored to you and somewhere you can enjoy working without fear of the overflowing wash basket appearing on the screen.

So where to start?

More than ever, we are now aware of the need to create multifunctional spaces around our homes that can adapt to working, exercising and homeschooling. So it’s important to decide early on what your lifestyle really requires and can actually accommodate.

In reality - is this space going to be multifunctional or a dedicated haven just for you and your laptop? If you’re a busy mum, you may still need to maintain a connection to the main living zones in your home but introduce the clever use of partitions and sliding doors.

However, if you’re desperate to create a truly separate space, away from household distractions, then an extension or conversion of an outbuilding may be the most sensible option. If this is the preferred direction, think about soundproofing early on and don't rule out going off-grid or introducing innovative ways of including solar power.

The all-important bookcase

The bookcase in the background may have become a joke in recent weeks, but the internal fitting requirements are a real consideration when planning your new home office.

It sounds like stating the obvious to say ‘allow enough internal space to work comfortably’, but it’s often overlooked as it’s easy to underestimate how much space you need when all the fittings and storage are added in.

The rule of thumb used by professionals is to lay out a workstation with at least 150cm in width and 210cm in depth. Remember you need to walk around it comfortably and even have someone else in there to chat or meet comfortably.

One of the first things we do with any conversion or new build project is to physically sketch out ideas with internal layout considerations (old school we know!). This helps recognise any limitations upfront and also helps visualise potential ideas quickly and effectively.

Light up your life!

An individual’s environment has long been acknowledged as one of the profound influences on their wellbeing. So when your home is also your workplace it is critical to consider key features from the start, such as light, traffic noise and humidity.

It’s no surprise that when it's sunny outside, sitting in an office with artificial lighting all day can make you feel miserable - and new research has shown working without natural light can also be detrimental to your productivity.

After 30 years extending and adapting residential homes in this region, I’ve come across a few tricks of the trade that can help adapt traditional buildings to a 21st century way of living without destroying the original character. Although there are many aspects to a conversion or new build, thinking creatively about windows is often one of the most crucial.

From new-builds to domestic extensions and barn conversions, NWA Architecture has been supporting regional communities, landowners and property owners to maximise their properties for many years. If you’d like to discuss how we can create a stunning and flexible workspace for you, you can contact our in-house specialist, Greg Gilding, by calling 07969 994945 or 015395 66248, or visit our website for more information.

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