WFH Offices

One of the Impacts from the Pandemic Not Likely to Go Away Soon is the Need For a Home Office

The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things, including how and where many of us work. A large swarth of the working population has stayed home to do their jobs. This appears to be a trend that’s here to stay based on a quick scan of recent news polls:

  • 67% of companies expect that WFH (Work from Home) will be permanent.
  • 77% of WFH workers say they are more productive than when in the office.
  • 99% of WFH employees say they want to continue working from home.

After eight months of WFH, many are re-considering the space they carved out of their home to “go to the office.” That prompted Michele and Denis Buch, owners of Boone Creek Cabinetry & Design in McHenry to re-think the home office as a permanent fixture for families in SW Lake County.

“In the back of everybody’s mind there was the thought that WFH was only going to last for a little while,” Michele says. “With a resurgence in Covid cases people are realizing that this is not the case. Most companies are learning that bringing everybody back to the office for in-person working may not be necessary.”

Realtor Sandra Frampton, @Properties in Barrington, concurs: “Many of my clients know now that they can be more productive working from home,” Frampton says. “No commute times and flexible work hours mean they can achieve what they need to achieve at any time of the day and still be more participative in {what} their family needs.”

The twin savings of time and money (on average $4000 per worker on an annual basis) means more families may have the resources for expert assistance to enhance WFH. Michele reports that when a client “calls us to talk about a home office the first thing we discuss is whether there space we can take from the home to create this environment. Often, it is a spare bedroom or an area in the basement although that is the least favorable place because of the absence of natural light. Natural light is so important for overall health and work productivity. People who get more natural light sleep 46 minutes longer than anybody else and are up to 40% more productive.

A question the Buchs ask next is if the office needs to be dedicated room that can be closed off for privacy from the rest of the home. Folks now working from a kitchen or dining room have learned that the table is the wrong height, and there’s little to no privacy.

According to Denis, when two people are working in the same room a home office needs to be configured in a way “so they can share the space without being disruptive, especially with phone conservations and video conferencing.”

After determining where to place the office, the next thing the Buchs consider are furnishings and that starts with a desk that should be 29 to 30 inches high. “We try to size a desk so that it’s as large as possible without overwhelming a room,” Michele says. “You can never have too much work surface.”

Standing desks are an attractive option, as is one that is easy to raise-and-lower to the desired height, and even change throughout the day.

Desk chairs are also critical, including those that provide the best working posture. Space needs to be accounted for to allow a chair to move around appropriately.

Connectivity in the Zoom era is important. “Technology constraints are present in your home now more than ever,” says Erick Olech, owner of ECO Automated Designs in Mundelein. “WFH has made many people realize that their home networks are not made to handle the work load they now require. Every week we deploy upgraded home networking equipment that increases overall reliability and performance. WiFi is good, but a wired connection is great. With so many connected devices in a home, it’s essential to consider upgrading a home network to support your needs.”

Other considerations for a home office include:

  • A stand for a computer monitor helps maintain an ideal working posture. The best bet is for the head and neck to be level and arms parallel to the desktop to help eliminate back and neck pain.
  • Filing solutions and shelving.
  • Power and wire management solutions.
  • “Working from home is definitely not going away anytime soon,” Frampton says. “Many companies now realize their workers can work from home and contribute to daily tasks as if they were in the office.”

To learn more contact Boone Creek Cabinetry & Design (BooneCreekCabinet.com), ECO Automated Designs (ECOAutomatedDesigns.com) and Sandra Frampton, @Properties (SandraFrampton.com).

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