Working from home is fast becoming a global trend that is no longer a choice or a luxury. It has already become a necessity for many the world over and may likely remain so indefinitely. Architects, designers and homebuilders are placed in a position where they are required to factor in home office spaces to new designs and renovate or re-design existing homes to accommodate a space dedicated to office work. The new normal will see homebuilders’ drafting services and homebuilders’ construction drawings incorporating this important feature into home design.
For those working from home, with its many distractions of TV, snacks, children, pets, etc. (not necessarily in that order), it is vital to dedicate a space that is secluded from these distractions, designed to help people focus on work and is work-friendly (proper lighting, seating, electrical and Internet connections, storage space).
Before the global lockdown situation, approximately 20% of Americans worked from home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. After the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, that number may well have gone up. With the prospect of general telecommuting likely to be reduced, a home office will need to be more spacious than the kitchen table or a corner of the bed/sofa. New home buyers will be interested in them, thus driving up the prices of homes with office spaces. For resale purposes, a well-designed home office can add value to potential home buyers.
In case of an existing home, renovations may include converting niches and spaces that are seldom used into somewhat secluded and convenient multi-use/office spaces. Some of the spaces that can accommodate a home office include:
- Niches near windows
- Space under the stairs
- Stair landings
- Bedroom walls
- Large walk-in closets
- Empty garages
For a new home, key considerations for a home office include the following:
- Separate Entry
For those that need to meet clients, ideally their office space should have a separate entry from the main entry to the dwelling spaces, so that family life is not disrupted and families don’t disrupt client meetings. Courtyard type home models may opt for a separate structure, attached to the main house, which has a bedroom and a bathroom. This can also double as a guest bedroom, if required.
Sufficient natural light is important for health and energy consumption purposes. Designers can opt for recessed lighting or skylights. Extra power outlets may be included for floor lamps, desk lamps, the computer, printer, etc.
Ideally, the desk should have some storage space, and reference material, files and supplies may need more storage space in the form of built-in shelving or cupboards or low tables. Cabinets can be built into the home, and there are a variety of desk and cabinet surface materials that can be used, including sustainable materials.
Depending on the user’s occupation, design options will differ. In general, the home office space design should lean toward creating an aesthetically attractive area that is comfortable and professional. Recommended features include:
1. Soothing colour schemes
2. Natural elements, such as plants, flowers, wood, stone, water as desktop fountains
3. User-friendly desks, cupboards and chairs, which are functional and comfortable
4. Ergonomically designed furniture, which helps prevent muscle fatigue, reduces musculoskeletal problems caused by sitting and working for long periods with improper posture and ultimately improves productivity.
Some homeowners have found out how to make their home office space work for them with minimal changes. Some of the popular tweaks for home office spaces are to:
- Adapt the Wall — An entire bedroom/guest room wall is adapted with a counter desk, extensive shelving and cabinets, while maintaining a decor that matches the rest of the room, preferably in white palette with coloured accents.
- Transform the Guest Room/Study — A cosy guest room, study or library can be converted into a bright home office with the right lighting and furniture or even by introducing a room divider, such as a screen, bookshelf or cabinet. The combination of navy and green accents in a study can be soothing and induce creativity.
- Be Comfortable and Safe — Furniture with rounded edges may be safer in smaller spaces, and it is crucial to be situated near proper ventilation, under a ceiling fan or near a radiator or fireplace, depending on the local climate.
- Think Loftily — Houses with unused levels, such as a loft, an alcove, a second-floor landing, a mezzanine floor, an attic or a basement can be re-designed to be an enviable office retreat, with interesting pendant lights or skylights, built-in shelves and rugs for decoration.
- Layer Lighting — Picture windows bring in natural light and warmth, while desk lamps and recessed LED lighting help people to focus
- Keep Secrets — An office space can be concealed behind a mirrored sliding door, helping maintain privacy.
- Enjoy Interiors — Walls of office spaces can have their own patterned cladding — stone finish, timber, marble — making them stylish and providing texture.
- Install Windows between Rooms — Inside windows (on a dividing wall between two rooms) lets in natural light to a dark space and is perfect for parents to monitor small children while both parents and children have their privacy.
- Plan for the Kids — In addition to adults working from home, children need space for homework, online classes, and project work. Children and their accompanying debris, such as sticky food, crumbs, mud and an assortment of toys, need a demarcated area. Installing built-in desks behind white built-in cupboard doors results in privacy, increased concentration and schoolwork and toys being shut away when required.
Residential design drawings, which include floor plans, elevations, sections and residential construction drawings, can define these features in detail. Homebuilders’ drafting services and homebuilders’ construction drawings can plan for and represent these spaces accurately.
As homebuilders, architects and designers consider recent changes in global lifestyle and their impact on working from home, the ease and collaboration that residential design drawings offer can help them re-define the home office space to fulfil both home and office requirements.
XS CAD has valuable experience as a BIM modelling services provider, providing residential BIM modelling services (part of homebuilder construction drawings and homebuilder drafting services), 3D visualisation services and residential design drawings for global firms. Our range of services for large homebuilders across the world include 2D architectural drafting, 3D BIM modelling, 3D rendering services and residential construction drawings.