A steadily increasing number of people in the Massachusetts workforce perform some part of their work at home. Whether working as a telecommuting employee of a large firm, a consult, or an empty nester embarking on a new career, people who work from their homes all find it easier if they have adequate space in which to do it.
Creating a home office can be a wise investment: The Boston Globe recently reported that today’s new home buyers frequently consider a home office more desirable than an extra bedroom when evaluating a house for sale. (Realtors counsel that the room should be easily converted back to its prior use). Remodeling Magazine’s latest remodeling cost-versus-value survey shows that, in the eastern United States, homeowners can expect to recoup 63% of the cost of converting an existing bedroom or den into a home office upon the sale of the home. Spare bedrooms, attics, and garages, if available, are obvious choices for locating a home office. But with some imagination, it is frequently possible to find a suitable niche elsewhere in the house that can be adapted nicely to office use. If an addition is being considered, advance planning can lead to the thoughtful incorporation of office space.
- Lighting: Do you prefer natural or electric light? If you have a window, are you inspired or distracted by the view? Will glare from the window make the computer screen hard to read? Arrange your furniture with these things in mind.
- Storage: How much and what kind do you need? In addition to paper files, computer disks, and CDs, remember to allow space to store office supplies and business records.
- Visitors: Will you be seeing clients or holding meetings in your office? If so, do you need a conference area and/or extra seating? Do you prefer a separate entry? What about a private bathroom?
- Workstyle/Ambiance: Do you need peace and quiet for your work, or do you perform better amidst noise and activity? Do you prefer to work standing up, sitting down, or moving around?
- Sharing: Will more than one person use the office, either at the same time or at different times? This raises issues of privacy, and of preferences in workstation configuration. Remember, you don’t need a lot of space for a home office: the average cubicle in a corporate office (think Dilbert) measures only 6′ x 8′. But smaller spaces must be