Where should you locate an office at home? Although it just sounds like a trite cliche, the phrase “location, location, location” is uber important when deciding where to set up your home office. After you have decided that you need to set aside a space for you to conduct work at home, then you need to decide the best location. While setting up an office in the work environment seems rather simple, there are extenuating factors to consider when you begin mixing work and home life. Carefully considering your home office location from the beginning saves you time and frustration.

Home office for momYou want to avoid using a less than ideal location for your home office. Perhaps you are considering an unused corner of your kitchen. You might consider sectioning off part of your bedroom.  Or even converting an outdoor shed into an office.  The different locations have pros and cons that you want to consider before making your final decision. Let's take a look at some of the questions to ask before making a decision on location of your office at home.

Guest room office at home

A common location for an office at home is the guest bedroom.  This is probably the easiest conversion because you have a ready location to be easily re-purposed. Most of the time, closing the spare bedroom door isolates the working environment from day to day living activities. Unless your spare bedroom has become the home “junk room,” it is probably relatively clear and ready to convert.

Should you leave the bed in the guest room/office?

A primary consideration for using a guest room or spare bedroom is what you will do, if/when, you actually have a guest visit.  First, look at whether you want to leave the bed in the newly converted office?

Consider these questions before deciding whether the spare bedroom is the ideal location for your home office:

  1. Will the bed distract me (I am tired – think I will take a break and nap)?
  2. Does the bed take up valuable space that I could otherwise use for my work activities?
  3. Will I need the bed there for when guests do come visit?
  4. Can I create a “hideaway” bed for my home office in the form of a Murphy bed or sofa bed to be pulled out when needed?
Other considerations for guest room/office
  1. Although seemingly obvious, where do I put everything now in the guest room? Do I want to keep everything in the room to avoid having to get rid of it or finding another location? Will keeping everything there make the room too crowded or cluttered?
  2. Is the guest room quiet? Does it provide a way to shut myself off from the rest of the house?
  3. Is the lighting adequate for working at your at home office? If lighting is dim, what will it cost to enhance the lighting in the office?
  4. Does the bedroom have Internet access and access to communication devices? Although not all businesses require Internet access, there is little that we do these days that never use the Internet for something. Will there be phone access – either in the form of a land line or cell phone access? While cell phone access may seem strange to consider, it can be critical if you live way out in the country (like I do) or have a house with a metal roof (yep, I have this too.) You may have to consider wiring the spare bedroom for Internet access or using antennas or other signal amplifying devices for your location.
  5. If clients come to office, will they fit in your spare bedroom office? If clients come to the office, is there outside access? Although this is not necessary, it is nice to be able to have clients separate from your home.
What do you do if guests arrive

If you decide that your home office will be dual purpose guest room/office, what WILL you do when overnight guests arrive? You might consider the following before using a dual purpose spare bedroom office:

  1. Can I suspend business activities while guests visit?
  2. Can I easily move my work elsewhere while guests use the spare bedroom/office?
  3. Will I be able to access my work if needed while guest sleep in the room?

The spare bedroom is probably a common location for a home office space. Generally, the spare bedroom location will ensure that you have enough space to work, adequate lighting, and an isolated environment. In addition, the specific square footage of space can be used to determine income tax deductions for the home office. Consider all the above aspects of the conversion from the beginning to ensure that is your home office works for you.

Nooks or crannies for the home office

Nooks or crannies within the home environment are probably the next most common location for a home office space.home. Sometimes, people will “set off” a section of the kitchen for a home office. Others use a corner in the dining room for the home office. Another nook would be a corner of the living room. While all of these will work for a home office, there are some points to consider before setting up your office.

Can it be isolated from distractions?
  1. Can I separate my workspace from my living space? There are multiple ways of separating your work space from curtains hung around the “home office” to shelving that sets up a little cubicle-like environment for working or filing cabinets that can surround the area. You can even consider using a freestanding screen that can serve as a bulletin board and backdrop from day to day living. Believe me, although it can be nice to have an open space for working, it can also be highly distracting as you glance up and notice the dishes need to be washed or the lamps need dusting.
  2. Will the space be relatively separate from the day to day living activities conducted in the house? Is the TV blaring or kids gaming on the computer going to be a distracting element? What happens when the dogs need to go out through my office space? Will the kids running in and out of the house during the day be a distractor? Can I ignore the refrigerator clunking on and off or the clothes washer spinning?  Is the traffic going down the street or mail being delivered going to be distracting from this location?
Can if be a functional office space?
  1. Is the lighting going to be adequate for the workspace – or if not, can I remedy the lighting with lamps or new fixtures?
  2. Does the “nook” workspace have Internet access and access to communication devices? Although not all businesses require Internet access, most that we do these days require the Internet for something.
  3. Will there be phone access – either in the form of a land line or cell phone access without having to get up from my desk?
  4. If the workspace is in a nook, will any office “messiness” interfere with the overall neatness at home home? Think – if your mother-in-law is coming over, do you have to scramble to clean up your workspace or can you just close a curtain or pull a screen over the workspace?
  5. Can I “personalize” the space to look like an office? Making the space look like an office space will provide a clear signal to everyone in the home that you are indeed “at work.”

Carefully considering the above points will help you to establish whether a nook or cranny is the correct location for an effective and efficient home workspace.

“In the bedroom” home offices

A home office in your own bedroom can be either very effective or a source of friction for family members. My brother shared with me a couple days ago that he has always had a lab/office in his bedroom and he found it very comforting and effective. This was true at all times EXCEPT when he was married – in that case, it was a constant source of friction.

If you are single or have your own bedroom, this might be an effective office space for you at home. Of course, there are things to consider before you set up your office space. Some questions you may want to consider are:

  1. First and foremost, will I disturb a family member if I set up my workspace in my bedroom? If my partner wants to go to sleep, will me typing and shuffling work be annoying? Is having the light on to work while they are trying to sleep going to be a problem? Will they be watching TV while I am trying to concentrate on work?
  2. Will office space and bedroom space detritus bleed over into each other and cause either internal or external conflict? Could dirty clothes on the floor, clean clothes that need to be hung or unmade beds distract me from work? Will a messy desk full of ongoing projects make my resting/sleeping area look cluttered – stopping me from resting adequately?
  3. Is the space adequate space to both work and live? Will there be enough space for me to spread out my work, move my chair around, file my papers, etc. or will the area seem cramped and uncomfortable for both living and working?
  4. Can I separate work and rest if I have my office in my bedroom? Will the lure of the work I need to complete staring me in the face at bedtime lead to less restful sleep?
  5. Can I make modifications to improve the office in the bedroom by putting up curtains or screens to block off the office/sleeping area?
Is the area functional for a home office?

There are some considerations regarding the functionality of the office workspace in the bedroom. Ask yourself these questions before deciding on this location:

  1. Is the lighting adequate for productive working?
  2. Once again, is there adequate access to the Internet and communications devices?

While locating a home office in the bedroom could be a good location IF you are single or have your own bedroom, a shared bedroom makes working and living quite complicated. Consider your options carefully if you decide to move your office into your bedroom.

Garage home offices

A garage converted into a home office often seems like a great option.  It can be separate from the home and provide ample space for productive work. Depending on what your garage looks like, you can be up and working fairly rapidly. Some questions you may want to consider:

  1. The obvious first question is two-fold. Where will the car go and where will all the “junk” I have in the garage go? If you have a car in the garage, then you want to make sure you have a location for your car outside the garage and that you are OK parking there. Do you live in a neighborhood that allows the car to be parked on the street? Will your car be safe on the street? Will your car be OK out in the weather? Can you divide your garage into two sections – one for the car and one for your home office?
  2. Where will I put all the stuff that is already in the garage? Many people have their garage packed with extra stuff, tools, holiday directions, bikes, etc. and already park outside the garage. The obvious challenge is where to put everything that is in the garage if you turn it into an office? Again could you subdivide the garage to have an office space and a storage space?
  3. What modifications would need to be done to turn your garage into a home office? Some things to consider: floors, wiring for lighting and electrical outlets, walls, heating and cooling, door access, windows, and plumbing. Most of this can be handled by a contractor, you can jump in and do the work yourself to save money or have some combination of professional help and DIY.
  4. Again, is there adequate access to the Internet and communications device?

Converting your garage to a home office is probably one of your expensive options, but it can eliminate many of the challenges that you face when your home office is in the house. This space can be quieter and less distracting than the in home workspace and can provide a clear signal to family members that you are, indeed, at work.

“Shed in the back” home offices

Another exciting possibility for the home office gaining in popularity – converting a shed or small building in the back. This topic will be covered quite extensively in this blog.  The shed in the back provides home office isolation. This benefits those who need a quiet environment for working. The office in a shed in the back eliminates clutter that happens with  an office in the home. This can be an added benefit to moving your office to a shed outside.

Home office productivity

There can be little doubt that having a workspace at home can help you be more productive and provide many benefits. Once you have decided that a home office would be helpful for your productivity, the exciting challenge of finding the best location for your office to begin. No matter where you decide to position your home office, you will look forward to going into your created space each day.

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