Home Sweet - Office

Recently, many people have made a sudden shift from going to work at an office to working from home. Additionally, a number of kids are now going to school virtually, which means parents have to accommodate not just a space for their own work, but one for their children’s homeschooling as well. Some don’t have the perfect work or learning set-up and may have had to improvise, using their dining room table, kitchen island, or even a raised coffee table as a makeshift desk. Whatever your situation may be, Brian Juedes, Vice President of Product Design & Optimization at Meritage Homes, offers valuable advice and solutions to help you make the best of your home office space and keep productivity flowing.

Since you are now spending more time in your home office you want to make it as comfortable and appealing as possible. Add some decorations such as pictures on your desk or some paintings for the walls. “Just remember to keep it simple, so your space can stay clear and functional. It’s important to keep your office organized and try to work on one thing at a time,” says Juedes. “Put away the items you’re not working on, so you have more space. Clutter is definitely not ideal in these situations.”

 

"Togetherness is great, but most everyone needs some private time and space every day."

Brian Juedes, Vice President of Product Design & Optimization at Meritage Homes

 

Don’t forget that you will need good lighting. Of course, natural light is the best way to go, so open those blinds and curtains, and position your desk next to a window. But if that’s not an option, use a light, like an upward-shining floor lamp, that will illuminate your whole office space. Use lampshades to soften harsh lighting or purchase a lamp for your desk that can focus light on where you need it.

Having kids in the house doing schoolwork or more than one person working out of your home can add distraction.

“If there are multiple people who need to use the same workspace, schedule shifts for conference calls and common shared items such as printers, faxes, and scanners,” says Juedes.

It can be challenging to retrofit your current space to accommodate homeschooling for one or more child in addition to the parents working from home. But even if you don't have an office space in your home, setting a designated workspace that feels separated from your living space can help you keep your focus. For instance, you can purchase a pull-down Murphy desk, which can be put up when not in use to save space. These  desks can be installed in more secluded areas of the home like bedroom hallways or even walk-in closets to avoid distractions and outside noise. “Most of us are spending more time in our homes, and in some cases with family, than we ever have,” Juedes says. “Togetherness is great, but most everyone needs some private time and space every day. Try to designate a space for each individual that they can call their own when they need to ‘get away’ without leaving the house.”

If you own a Meritage home, you may already have a work-at-home space as a feature in your floorplan. Meritage is working to incorporate work study alcoves in some of its homes. "These alcoves are between four and six feet wide and two feed deep, providing a great solution for those who are looking for a space to work or study at home, without having to forego an entire room in their home," says Juedes. "These work study alcoves are carved out of existing floor plans within more private areas, like the bedroom hallway." Meritage also offers other options that include dedicated first-floor den and study rooms; convertible second-floor spaces such as lofts and game or media rooms; and smaller spaces, tech centers, and recipe desks for kitchens.

Wherever you choose to sit down to work, make sure you are preventing soreness or injuries. “Ergonomics are a real thing, and most people are probably feeling the change in their backs, shoulders, and arms,” Juedes says. “Seat height, table height, posture, twisting motion—all these things should be considered and adjusted to make it as comfortable as possible.”

Even if you have your own space and have made it comfortable, it can be difficult to stay productive while working from home. Avoid distractions and procrastinating at home. It’s best to shut your office door (if you can) and perhaps put on a pair of headphones to help you concentrate.

It’s also important to take regular breaks (including lunch in a spot away from your work setup) and short walks to stretch your legs. Try to treat your workdays as you would if you were going to the office. It will help you stay focused and work to your fullest potential.

So set up your routine, your personal space and your daily schedule. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably in your home office that you have livened up with decorations and good lighting and don’t forget to give yourself a mental and physical break throughout the day. This will make working from home a lot easier. Finally, if you are working from home, make sure to unplug at the end of the day. It’s easy to get caught up in emails and projects if you’re not leaving your “office.” Juedes advises to designate time for dinner, your family, and yourself.