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Working from Home in 2021

Well, since COVID-19 interrupted our daily lives, working from home has become the norm for many people.  But in order to be effective at your job one thing is for certain, you need an organized, comfortable space. 

A home office needs to have complete balance between form and function.  It needs to be more than just a stylish place that you enjoy being in. A home office needs to have space to properly house all of the equipment you utilize, store supplies and sensitive documents, and provide a workable desk surface.  

COVID-19 and working from home does not reduce PIPEDA requirements…in fact, it makes it more challenging to meet in a home office.

To create your perfect home office, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Location! Location! Location!  Real estate is not the only thing affected by its location – The effectiveness of a home office is very dependent on its location.  Choosing the location for your office can be difficult and renovations may be necessary to accommodate proper work from home protocols: 
  • To work effectively, create a space that allows you to keep your personal life separate, whenever possible. 
  • How will your work tasks be affected by the comings and goings of other members of your household, noises from the television, stereo, a nursery, home schooling areas, kitchen, laundry, HVAC system, and bathrooms. 
  • What about the noise you create and its impact on your household? Do you leave and return to your office regularly or do you ‘burn the midnight oil’? (i.e. an office placed in an area of a bedroom that is not solely yours is likely to create issues)
  • Consider how you will maintain privacy when dealing with customers/clients verbally and via stored documents. 
  • Will clients, peers or workers attend your home office?  Where are your access/egress areas and how will that affect your household and visitors?
  • The walls of your space may need to be insulated in order to reduce household sounds, reduce distractions and keep your conversations and work private. 
  • The addition of a functioning lockable door may also be necessary for some home offices for noise and protection of documents and electronics. For others, pocket doors may suffice.
  • Natural light and sunny surroundings will help save on energy costs but also helps to promote clarity and creativity. 

 

  1. Establishing storage vs work space is a must.  If all you need to do your job is a desk, chair, computer and telephone, the layout and location of your office may be easy to establish.  However, if your job encompasses a combination of digital and paper work, you will need to consider so much more.  If you do not create an effective filing and storage system, it’s likely that your office will become overrun with ‘stuff’ (papers, files, books, policies/procedures, drafts, plans, etc.) that impedes your work.
  • The layout must support the best functionality for all of your objectives.  Careful measurements and custom cabinets are instrumental in designing an efficient space.
  • You may need cabinets or closets for storage and to lock away documents/digital storage in order to preserve privacy.
  • Your desk space should be set away from any traffic or noise areas to avoid distractions.
  • Office equipment should be setup in an ergonomic manner close to the desk area.
  • Proper desk placement to take advantage of natural light while still ensuring privacy for your work is imperative.  Appropriate window coverings are a must.
  • Make sure your desk is suitable for your tasks and is ergonomically designed. (i.e. transitional sitting/standing desk for long work hours, executive desk with drawers, etc.) 
  • If you have colleagues or clients that meet at your office, ensure that you plan for a boardroom or sitting area away from your desk and documents in order to preserve confidentiality.
  • If you need to share your home office with someone else…creating multiple desk space and lockable storage will be a must.
  • If you need to put your home office in a multipurpose room, you will need to be inventive.  Fold-away desks can be built-in to custom cabinets.
  • Utilize vertical and horizontal space for the greatest efficiency.

 

  1. Carefully plan your electrical and lighting.   Plan ahead for your task and ambiance lighting. 
  • Ensure that lights can be dimmed for a presentation and that they are positioned appropriately to avoid glares on computer screens. 
  • Since technology changes over time, ensure that enough outlets are in the appropriate locations for any additions to your equipment or lighting needs.
  • Some jobs require hard wiring for electronic security – make sure you know what is required of you for privacy protection. To avoid serious accidents, do not have cords stretched across traffic ways in your office – Ensure that your electrical is done by a licensed professional… proper preplanning for your equipment placement is vital.
  • Make sure you plan for all of the necessary equipment you will need, singularly or multiples. (i.e. printer(s), fax machine, television(s), computer(s), shredder, laminator, hole puncher, telephone(s), etc.) 

 

  1. Flooring and working surfaces should be carefully thought out.  Flooring choices are not just about aesthetics.
  • Plush carpet is not ideal for a home office; it can create a problem of static for electronic equipment/computers from foot traffic and desk chairs.   If you need carpet in the room, choose a more commercial carpet version than a plush one.
  • A solid surface can reduce this issue and usually offers ease of maintenance.  Tile or hardwood are likely your best options for those reasons. 
  • Hard surfaces, like tile, however do not absorb sound and therefore you may need to incorporate other materials to reduce sound levels.
  • Desk and table surfaces should be chosen based on their purpose and your ability to maintain it. Glass scratches easily, but can make a room appear more spacious, and wipes up easily if there is a spill.  Wood adds warmth, but is affected by spills.  Metal and stone surfaces are more durable but can add to the noise levels in the office.   Choose the best material for your tasks.

 

  1. Facilities should be close to your office. For efficiency, your office should be located close to a washroom and a place for drinks (i.e. water, coffee), but not so close that you are affected by noise. 
  • It also helps to maintain professionalism and safety if you have both nearby if you have clients and/or colleagues attend your office.

 

  1. Create your own individual flare.  Even if you do not have clients come to your office, your space should embody your style, and look like your office not a recycled space.  You will be spending many hours in this space and it should stimulate your creative side and positive thinking. 
  • Pick a wall colour that is cheerful yet helps you remain calm if you have a stressful situation.  
  • Choose your style – it may be modern, contemporary, eclectic or traditional.  Make sure it complements the rest of your home.
  • Decorate your walls with artwork or a mural that you love and that suits the rest of your design.  This is a good backdrop for video conferencing and adds to the tranquility of your office. (e.g. a landscape, architecture, ocean or aquarium simulation)
  • If your office does not and cannot have an actual window, perhaps consider the creation of a faux window wall to provide the illusion of one.
  • Perhaps bring an ‘executive’ flare to your space with built-ins, a specially designed desk, a sitting area and beverage bar, or some other facet that makes the space your own.
  • If you have to spend 8 hours a day in your office, ensure that your chair not only reflects your style but more importantly offers great support and comfort. 
  • The perfect home office is one that promotes your creativity and focus and allows you to be as productive as possible every day.

COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our workforce.  For those that work from home, the home office is or will be one of the most important rooms of your home.  If you spend 8 hours a day on the job or longer, making your space comfortable and efficient is vital to the success of your work. 

So, whether you are self-employed or ‘newly’ working from home, you have the opportunity to make your work space inviting and motivational—it does not have to be a cubical-like space, like it may have been at the office.

While it may be just a work space, if you do it right, it could be one of your favourite rooms in your home.  

If you are considering a home office custom renovation, call the experts at Vanderzalm Construction Inc. We can be reached at (905) 684-5823 or (905) 562-4463 or contact us by email at info@vanderzalm.ca.  We look forward to working with you.

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