Creating a home office in double quick time

As hundreds and thousands of office workers are sent home to work, people are setting up home offices in some haste, and in the most unlikely spaces.

PROP028 Creating A Home Office In Double Quick Time

Carrie Brook’s partner, a builder, set her up in the corner of the kitchen by the beer fridge in his bachelor pad and she’s making it work. 

You think she has it tough -  spare a thought for Wellington flats where 6 people are all working from home in 3 bedroom apartments at the moment.

According to architect, James Solari, a member of his team is now living and working from his caravan.

Solari Architects does a lot of work designing apartments and townhouses, and creates mini-home offices in all kinds of nooks. Space is at an absolute premium in these homes. 

“The idea of space left over is horrendous to us,” he says.

Often a landing at the top of stairs can be a pocket of space where a desk can go, he says. Ideally there would be a skylight there to provide some light.

If you’re setting up a home office fast, you can do a lot worse than putting an old door and, or piece of glass over a saw horse or trestle table if you have the space, he suggests. 

You might need to put the table up on a couple of timber blocks to get to the right height, but it’s pretty simple, says Mr Solari. 

A large cupboard can be remade into a home office

A big cupboard can be another viable desk area and is being incorporated in home office design.  The beauty of these spaces is they can be closed off with all your stuff in place, says the architect. 

Tommy’s Real Estate agent Alistair Rieger has seen a number of cupboard conversions in homes which have very successfully become desk nooks. 

“I’ve seen some that you would have sworn were a cupboard and then you open them up  and it’s a workspace,” he says.

Normally people will use a plank of plywood as the bench top, leaving holes in it for computer cords. And the office chair will live somewhere nearby, he says.

Mr Rieger has also seen former laundries turned into work spaces, again hidden behind folding doors. 

Bedrooms are the best home office setup 

The kids may relish their separate bedrooms but in testing times like this, when both you and your partner are working from home, it may be time to commandeer one of their bedrooms.. 

Get them to share a bedroom for a while and make it fun for them. Set up their bedroom as if they are camping, suggests Spaceworks designer, Lizzi Whaley and judge for The Block NZ.

Bedrooms are the most obvious places to set up a home office, rather than the living room or dining room, she says. There is plenty of room for decent home office furniture and office equipment, for a start, and video calls are much easier to do.

 “If you can, avoid working at the dining table. Otherwise work life rolls into home life,” she says. 

In a bedroom, you can shut the door and stay away from the “malarkey in the house,” says Ms Whaley.

If you and your partner share an office in a bedroom, and your children need supervision, agree to work in shifts if possible, she adds. 

“Rotate every two hours, in shifts, and then you’ll get four hours of work done,” says Ms Whaley.

Don’t get hung up on productivity worries

And don’t beat yourself up about productivity when working from home and not getting as much work done, she says. 

In an office you get interrupted every three minutes and it can take you 20 minutes to refocus, says the office space designer.

Two important things to make sure with your home office is to make sure you’re working near natural light and good air flow, she says, so don’t try to set up in a dark hallway. 

“Fresh air gets the brain functioning,” she says. And will keep your energy levels up.

Garages can work as home offices too although they can be on the chilly side.  

“They’re not very exciting but open up the door and decorate it with some greenery,” she says.