3 min read
By Lauren Rosales, Content Writer
In our previous post, we described many of the potential negative effects of working from home: isolation, loneliness, overwork, lack of a healthy work-life balance. One way that the remote worker can combat the latter of these issues is to create a home office–or, if space prohibits, at least a dedicated workspace. When you have a separate space in which to work, you are empowered to rid yourself of distractions and provide your mind with a much-needed distinction between professional and personal. Homeowners who were suddenly required to work from home in 2020 felt the wisdom and necessity of this rationale–one Colorado-based company specializing in customizable backyard shed spaces saw their business increase by a whopping 500% in May 2020, with many sales specifically for separate home offices. Renovations within the home were also wildly popular in mid-2020; the renovation site Houzz reported a 58% increase in homeowner requests from June 2019.
What makes a good home office, though? It’s more than just a separate space for Zoom calls. If you can, you should try to choose a space that has windows and a good level of natural light, as it will keep your mood buoyant, and thus your productivity as well. In a similar vein, studies have shown that incorporating nature into your office can promote well-being–seriously, even looking at a single plant in your workspace will lower your blood pressure (i.e. your levels of stress and anxiety). When you consider featured colors, you should stick with natural, earthy tones for the same reason!
HGTV recommends using vertical and horizontal organization, whether floating shelves, cube storage (vs traditional bookcases), or keeping a desk drawer reserved for imminently-needed ‘to-do’ papers; the rationale of this guidance is to keep the top of one’s desk as uncluttered and functional as possible. And don’t forget the importance of your desk chair! If you’re going to be spending entire workdays sitting there, you’ll want the chair to be highly ergonomic, not to mention the desk. You might want to look into the ability to adjust the desk height into a standing desk, if the varying positions suit your body best. Last but not least, remember that scent can play a significant role in an environment as well as influence one’s mood. Scents like citrus and eucalyptus improve focus, whereas lavender can help you maintain your zen during an agonizing day of back-to-back Zoom meetings.
Though you can certainly create an entirely detached space for your home office, like those ordering made-to-order sheds above, you may also be able to efficiently repurpose a room in your home that simply isn’t living up to its full potential yet. This savvy renovator and her family redesigned their entire home with the single goal of making it more user-friendly to two adults working from home and two children in remote school. Perhaps the most difficult part of the renovation odyssey, she writes, was the “unflinching” honesty required, the self-awareness of how each of them worked in order to best serve those needs. In other words, before the dining room could be converted into an effective workspace, they had to acknowledge that they almost never use it for dining. Only then could they ditch the impractical buffet and install floor-to-ceiling wardrobes that would be the most apt storage solution for homeschool supplies. Be purposeful–you won’t want to use a high-traffic area full of noise and distractions, for example. Just because a desk would fit there, doesn’t make it a spot prime for working from home.
If you are a remote or hybrid worker and struggle to make your current home office work for you, you may desire to take a cue from the many others who have renovated to improve their experiences. While renovations can be inconvenient or pricey, the long-term benefits are often immeasurable. A Unison equity sharing agreement is one option to help you raise the funds for a home office makeover or addition–and it’s an option that requires zero monthly payments, takes zero interest, and leads to zero debt! Renovations are one of the most popular uses of a Unison agreement, in which qualifying homeowners can receive up to 17.5% of their home’s value in cash in exchange for a percentage of the home’s future change in value at the time of sale. If your renovations add value to the home, you can apply for an adjustment that would subtract that value from the accrued investment at the end of the agreement. Curious? It takes seconds to see whether your address qualifies, and will have absolutely no effect on your credit score. You can also check out the renovation calculator, which will help you put numbers to your ideas!