The “new home office” is a relative newcomer to the world of workplaces although people have used their homes for business for hundreds of years. The NHO I will call it is a new breed of space that must accommodate the needs of doing business but also mesh with the needs of family schedules and all the complexities of modern life. Since whole books have been written on this subject we will cover the essential ground and emphasize what will make your office and your business a success.
The main topics that present themselves to every home officer are: Location and size, Organization, planning / budget, furnishings and equipment. Although it would be easy to list these one by one and describe what each one requires lets look at it as a story since life is rarely so cut and dried as a list.
An office space could be anywhere in your home and any size. Some artists of the past had large elaborate studios while painter‘s such as Magritte painted in a small space in the corner of his bedroom. What works for you? Need privacy, a quiet place or access to power and internet. Think about the office and how it will be used at all times of the day and night. Do you have lots of equipment and supplies or is it just a laptop? Immerse yourself in what you do and how you do it and the concept for your office will come alive. Don’t worry if their are conflicts, this thinking process will help define which things are the most important to you.
When your office has found a home in your home begin to think about organization. Some of us are naturally neat and others are just fine with a mess. In either case here is how to look at organization; organization means productivity. If you can find it and access it chances are you will spend less time with your tools and more time doing what it is you do. You might need an elaborate filing system or a simple wall of shelves, the key is find-ability and usability.
Next is the “plan”. Your NHO is comprised of two things, 1) a truly functional space and 2) style.Function is obvious but what role does style play? In one sense it’s the decor, colors etc. but there is also a functional aspect to style. If you are easily distracted then a minimalist space might be in order but if you thrive on Victorian clutter and want little mementos that remind you of what and why you are doing your thing, that’s your style. What works for you? That’s the one you should choose. Here is where you should begin to think about budget. How much can you spend or will you spend. Sometimes this is where people get stuck but I recommend the rinse and repeat method till you get it fine-tuned and on budget. ( I recommend you never start with budget, because you will lose the vision in the numbers. )
Once you know your budget it will much easier to select those pieces of furniture and equipment that are necessary to your success. If you’re not sure what all of your needs are, then get started and add items as you go just remember to allocate space for it now if you think you will need it later.
Take a look at these office styles for inspiration:
- On the extreme end: http://www.biscade.com/office/
- The minimalist approach: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/02/a-showcase-of-minimalist-workstations/
- How “some” of the famous do it: http://lifehacker.com/5367129/nine-workspaces-where-famous-folks-get-stuff-done
If you google “home office ideas” or “home office pictures” you will get quite an array.
The real challenge is how to narrow the focus down to what defines and works for you.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to designing physical spaces is trying to pick something “off the shelf” that has worked for someone else. They do this because something about the way it looks is attractive but the key is to know “why” it looks that way. Trying to embrace ideas that aren’t yours will always throw you off and force values on you that aren’t yours.