In this era of multi-tasking, I believe that working from home allows you to perform multiple jobs all from one place. As someone with an office in my home, there are days (sometimes hours) where I am managing my interior design business, a mother, a wife, a taxi service, a cook, and a referee. Many of us have made the choice to “manage it all” from our homes. As a matter fact, according to the Bureau of Labor 3.9 million workers or about 3% of the U.S. workforce work from home. Seems like I am in good company!
A great deal of research has been done on the work from home/telecommuting/home office phenomenon. It saves employees time and money. One study found that work-from-homers gained back up to 11 days by not traveling to and from work. All very compelling reasons to ditch the commute and set up shop in your home – if you can.
During my 15 year career in fashion, I commuted to an office in New York City as well as to vendors and factories around the world. While it was an interesting career, the commuting, the travel and the time spent away from home did take it’s toll. When I started Valerie Grant Interiors in 2005, I was thrilled to settle into working from home. Initially, I worked from a desk in my house – but as my business grew, I needed a dedicated, organized space with more privacy. So, when my husband and I planned to build our new home in Summit, NJ, I designed an office that would better suit my needs and be a space where I would enjoy spending my working hours.
For me, the most important benefit of working from home is that it allows me to be present with my family. With two middle-school age children, I want to be accessible to them when they come home from school or if there are any pressing needs they have during the day (forgetting homework and/or lunch tops the list :)). I do set my work hours, but if I need to take off to attend a school event or watch a soccer game or just hang out with my kids, I can. I adjust my schedule so that I can head up to the office in the evenings or on weekends if needed.
When I meet with clients who want to incorporate an office space into their home, we focus on how the office will be used. Is it a dedicated space in the house? Can it be located in a nook in a kitchen, family room or bedroom? Does it need to be in a central location so that they can be part of the action? Or, does it need to be set off in a wing or on a different floor for privacy? Once I get a sense of the clients needs, we can begin creating a space that works for them.
For the clients who need a dedicated work space and who primarily work at a desk, I design offices with spacious desks, book shelves for storage and organization, and the appropriate wiring for technological needs. But, as in every room, the personality of the user is also a primary consideration. The following photographs show two VGI designed home offices for clients who required dedicated offices.
But for some, all work and no rest is not ideal. Work habits vary – some people sit at a desk exclusively while others prefer more comfortable seating for reading or phone calls. For the next set of clients, versatility was a key factor as their offices needed to function for desk work as well as more relaxed spots for reading or having visitors.
For my next client, her office was intended to be shared. She wanted a space where should could work, manage her home, and have her children near by. We designed a space with a desk for her and a work table to accommodate her kids. I like to think of this as the ultimate “work-life” balanced office.
Moment of truth – my office is NEVER as neat as it looks in these pictures! I think it’s important to know one’s strengths and weaknesses. I admit that I find organization challenging. So, I reached out to an organization guru, Andrea Walker of Smartly Organized, who came to my office and helped me get my space in order. Her first piece of advice to me was “It’s a myth that creative workspaces need to be messy and chaotic. A disheveled workspace actually hinders the creative process. Clear your desk, clear your mind and the creative juices will flow. This applies for non-creatives, too. A clear desk and organized office increases productivity.” Andrea suggested using labeled baskets to store fabrics by color, large binders for wallpaper samples and to keep my desk clean – not sure I have been so good at that :).
Here is an essential stack of books as reference material in case you need to read up on how to get – and stay – organized.
I may not always keep my desk neat but it is one of my life goals. Using Poppin. office supplies is one way to make your desk look really good and gives you an incentive to keep things organized. The Poppin. Pinterest page is a fun place to go for great organizational ideas.
InStyle magazine’s “Adorable Office Supplies That Will Actually Make You Excited to Go to Work”, is spot on with it’s piece about how using stylish supplies can inspire you to keep things organized.
Remember, there is no place like a (well organized) home office!