What to consider when designing your new home office
In recent years, the formal home office has fallen out of fashion as buyers opt for study nooks over separate rooms.
But times have changed. With many of us now working from home due to coronavirus, Burbank head of research, design and development Damjan Jeremic expects there to be an increase in demand for dedicated home offices in new builds.
"Our double-storey options largely have a formal study, but when it comes to single-storey homes, most people go for a study nook and spare bedroom, rather than a dedicated study," Mr Jeremic said.
"However, I would have thought that after coronavirus, we will see more people opting for the home study."
Those of us lucky enough to have a spare bedroom have probably now converted that room into a home office. But if you happen to be building a new home, you're in luck - you have the chance to design a bespoke office space.
And the advice from Mr Jeremic is to set up a dedicated study, instead of just a study nook in a shared space.
"You need the extra privacy," Mr Jeremic pointed out. "It's also important to be working in an environment that is removed from the house space, as it gives you a better clarity of mind."
Location is important, too.
"Ask yourself if you'll be using the space for meetings or greeting customers and, if so, choose an area close to the home's entrance," Mr Jeremic said.
"In general, try to avoid placing the office next to a bedroom, especially if you have kids at home, as they will be playing in the rooms and you will be easily distracted."
It's worth keeping in mind, too, you might want your office well distanced from your kitchen to help prevent endless grazing sessions.
"(But you could) put a lock on your fridge so you're less tempted," Mr Jeremic suggested.
If you have the advantage of building a home from scratch, there are steps you can take to minimise distractions while you work.
"We offer internal wall insulation or sound isolation as an upgrade," Mr Jeremic said.
"This is especially important if you'll be in contact with others frequently as you will need quiet in the background when you have meetings."
Mr Jeremic said buyers could also opt for double sliding doors on their study to ensure ample privacy to concentrate.
Furthermore, if converting an existing room into a study, be wary of choosing a space that is so small it feels suffocating.
"Ideally, you would want at least 2.7m x 3m in minimum size as an enclosed office space," Mr Jeremic said.
New builds in estates are automatically connected to the national broadband network, but now is not the time to scrimp on data packages.
"Everyone is on Netflix or Zoom at the moment, so be generous about the plan you choose," Mr Jeremic said.
According to Mr Jeremic, the No. 1 mistake when setting up a home study is underestimating the details, such as the need for good lighting.
"Natural light is a basic human need," Mr Jeremic said.
"It also opens up the room; and the bigger the window, the bigger the room feels."
You also want to avoid the common mistake of running cords across the room to hook up your technology.
"We provide one double power point as standard in the room, but one is rarely enough these days. So, it's important to make sure you have plenty and they are in the right places," Mr Jeremic said.
Many people also neglect colour, but it can be a huge mood booster.
"Paint your study a separate colour to the rest of the house to separate the space, and ideally in a lighter colour, too, to make it feel bigger and brighter," he suggested.
Here is some more advice from Mr Jeremic on setting up a home office:
• Plan the room so you have enough power points and your furniture is placed so you can easily access them.
• Install a split-system airconditioner so you can control the room's temperature separately from the rest of the home.
• Hang a sheer curtain or roller blind so you can reduce glare but still see outside and let in natural light.
• Ensure light doesn't directly hit your desk - light glancing on your screen can be maddening.
• Plant a feature tree outside your window for a nice, leafy view.
Originally published as What to consider when designing your new home office