The arched opening between this writing room and an adjoining bedroom is
shaped like a wave or shell, reflecting the owner's love of the sea.
A niche within a converted attic is
stylized to the max. Niches within the niche are used to their
fullest extent for odd-shaped storage items that are stock-in-trade
for an interior designer.
An existing closet is bumped out into
the living space to provide the necessary depth for a fully functioning
home work space. When the office is in shutdown mode, you'd never
know it exists.
In a space where work and domestic life coexist, it's great
to be able to hide things away when you switch out of full work
mode. Here, a work surface on wheels tucks away neatly into a
cabinet and keyboard and printer can be concealed behind cabinet
Creating the Ideal Home Workspace
Text and Photos adapted from Taunton's Home Workspace Idea Book by Neal Zimmerman
With an estimated 50 million people now working at home, an awareness has emerged that the quality of the home workplace counts - not only for efficiency, comfort, and safety, but for the sheer pleasure of being there.
Creating a space where you can get work done productively and spend your time peacefully and joyously, requires three basic planning principles:
(1) taking stock of your needs,
(2) evaluating and choosing a location and
(3) developing a home workplace that helps you balance your
work style and home life.
As a starting point for assessing
space needs, I've developed an acronym that many people have found
helpful. I call it "CAMP." "C" is for
Computer stations, one or more of which will be found in
virtually every home workplace today, no matter what type of work
for the Administrative station - the place where you open
your mail, pay bills, prepare packages for mailing, and perhaps
take telephone calls.
"M" is the
Meeting station, which may vary from none at all to a
significant-size conference table. And "P" stands
for Project station, which is the most variable type in
size, equipment, and number. Clearly, a floral arranger will need
a different project station than a woodworker, a fine artist, or
a computer-software designer will require.
Not everyone will need all four
station types and the stations don't all have to be in one contiguous
space. To predict storage needs, take an inventory of all records,
supplies, perhaps even products and determine a rough calculation
of how much space you require.
The next step in creating the ideal home workspace
is to divide the items to be stored into Active and Inactive categories.
will contain materials you need access to on a regular basis, such
as documents, files and supplies and should be readily accessible
to the workstation. Inactive storage is for stuff you'll occasionally
need to access, like bulk supplies, completed client records, or
reference books, which is best located elsewhere in the home.
Before proceeding, it is imperative
to thoroughly investigate local ordinances; you may be required to
apply for a permit to work at home. There may also be zoning restrictions
prohibiting receiving frequent visitors or having other employees
working within your home.
Selecting the best setting for your home workspace is very important to its
success. Consider how much privacy you require and how you will protect your
space and its contents from marauding family members (and pets).
If you expect to have visitors
or staff, you'll somehow need to develop separation between business
traffic and family living space.
Converted attics, sunrooms, spare
bedrooms, dens and segregated basement areas offer optimal privacy.
Alcoves, hallways, mid-level landings and lofts are by nature separated
from main activity areas. Workspaces in niche spaces and closets
can be protected by sliding doors.
If your space is in a shared
area of a bedroom, dining room or a delegated area of a family room,
it is helpful to set a boundary using a folding screen, curtains
or blinds, a half wall or a bookcase used as a divider. If clients
will be coming and going, a separate entrance is highly desirable,
along with an appropriate meeting area and a nearby restroom.
YOUR HOME WORKSPACE
The first step after determining space needs and a location is to sketch a
floor plan. Success in developing a floor plan will require a very accurate
background plan (a scale drawing of the area including doors, windows,
radiators, electrical outlets and switches, etc.) as well as a thorough
knowledge of your workstation, equipment, and storage needs.
You might even generate two or
three alternate plans to see which one works the best. After deciding
on the preferred layout, you can then think about your power requirements
- where you'll
need to introduce outlets, phone
jacks, and so on. Ensuring your space will be comfortable requires
thinking about lighting, views and comfortable seating and ergonomic
Natural light is desirable in
a home workplace because it provides a view and a connection to the
outdoors. Although it is often used, recessed ambient lighting can
accelerate eye fatigue because the light source is too far from the
surface and tends to throw shadows. Task lighting is a better choice.
The two most common forms are strip fluorescent and halogen lamps
with flexible arms.
The last, and in some ways most
important, topic to address is designing a place for Who You Are.
Without a distinctive personality, a home workplace might just as
well be anybody's.
Working at home offers you the
opportunity to personalize your environment in a way that would be
impossible in the traditional workplace. The environment you create,
yours to organize and decorate as you wish, should be a reflection
of your personality.
The more successful you are
in translating the space that you choose into a place for who you
are, the more successful your home workplace will be.
With careful thought in assessing
your needs, choosing a location, and developing a comfortable space
which fits your personality, you'll be able to create the ideal home
workspace that becomes a place you gravitate toward, rather than