Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Actually, it was only last year that we did a blog post about how to make your home better suited to “occasionally” working from home, with ideas like creating a dedicated home office by finishing your basement. Little did we know that in 2020 everything would change, and we would all be hunkered down, doing everything we could possibly manage to do without leaving the house.

woman working from home video conference

NPR has reported on a survey by the Greater Washington Partnership that finds “with so much uncertainty continuing around the coronavirus, it might be next summer [2021] before most workers for private employers in the Washington, D.C. area return to the normalcy of their offices.” Maybe you’ve even decided that ditching the commute is actually pretty sweet and you’re ready for a real home office after months of trying to “make do” while keeping the whole family on track.

Along with revisiting the tips we posted in September 2019, which still basically hold true today, there are some other things we can add when you might be looking at the prospect of continuing your work from home a while longer.

Diverse colleagues have online web conference

Look behind you!

Working remotely almost definitely means using some kind of video conferencing. The one thing that everyone has realized in 2020 is that what’s behind you is very important, because that’s what the other people will be looking at.

Your backdrop shouldn’t be just a bare wall, but keep it as simple and neat as possible. Built-in bookcases and plants are always good backgrounds, and make sure you have a light in front of you, so your face isn’t in shadows.

video conference webcam floorplan

Illustration courtesy Wirecutter, the New York Times

Multi-level lighting

What’s one of the best things about an office at home? No overhead fluorescent lights!  Lighting is important even when you’re not on a video call. Put your desk near a window for natural light, then supplement with a desk lamp, pendant lighting and task lamps that add illumination right where you need it. Make sure that it’s all arranged to avoid putting annoying glare on your monitor.

home office

Whole house remodel by Metro Building and Remodeling

Enjoy the view

An efficient home office doesn’t have to be boring. You’re not on Zoom all the time, so why not update your room to have some pleasant surroundings while you work. Add a large window for a view of the backyard, and have things you love to look at, whether it’s art prints, family photos, or plants which might even increase your productivity.

Work from home but not “in” the home

If you need a quieter place to work from home, away from the “comings and goings” of family life, consider a detached home office. It may be a room over the garage or a small out-building similar to a guest house that’s a private workspace just steps from your door, combining the convenience of a home office with the physical (and psychological) separation that is often missing when you work from home. Some areas around Metro DC have – or are considering – zoning that allows for a detached ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), depending on its size and use. You’ll need to find out if they are allowed where you live because they are strictly regulated by zoning and building codes in each county or town.

If you need a solution for improving your WFH setting, we can help. Whether it’s converting a spare bedroom with some home office built-ins, putting on an addition, or finishing the basement, we’d love to discuss how you can make your new normal also more comfortable and efficient.

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