Balancing work and life in the home office

Balancing work and life in the home office


Home Office Design

Looking at getting more out of your homes than just a place to live?

A growing trend is to start a new career from home or supplement income by working from home. The rapid growth of the internet, providing a cheap and sophisticated information service, is one of the dominating factors for the boom in home offices. A home office is the perfect solution for many people starting a business, as it removes much of the overheads of commercial leases and allows the person to develop a network without immediate financial pressures. The rapid spread of telecommuting and use of the internet is fundamental in assisting many people to operate from home and lower their overheads.

People purchasing a property to include a home office should have a clear understanding of their requirements and if the property can be used for the type of business they are intending to conduct. Failure to plan the home purchase strategically can leave a new business with a major upfront unbudgeted cost. Many older, larger houses are suitable for a home office renovation, with roof spaces available for conversion. In smaller homes and townhouses the mezzanine floor has become a popular solution to create extra space to allow for a home office.

People buying a home with the intention of setting up a home office need to consider a number of factors that could influence the success of the operation of the office, including:

– Can there be a separate entry to the office area for clients to use? This is an extremely important point as you and your family may wish to maintain your privacy rather than have clients entering through your home.

– Can you separate the business operations from home life? Using the home for business can have its drawbacks if the competing needs of the family’s use of facilities are not managed carefully; this can also damage your business if clients feel uncomfortable.

– Location and visibility from the street may be important for your business.

– The provision of sophisticated communications for the premises, including broadband cable facilities for internet or wireless access.

– Is the chosen area of adequate size for the type of work you will carry out? Space needs are important, as the choice of an inadequate space will ultimately lead to disruption of the business and added cost.

– L- or U-shaped home offices tend to be the most productive as all important items are within reach. When planning the office, consider the storage needs of the business, not just for the client’s files and reference material but also the equipment: computers, fax, photocopier, printer, scanner etc. Consider the space and facilities in terms of any support staff you may require.

– Is there adequate light and ventilation? Because people will spend a considerable amount of time in the home office, it’s important that the area has adequate lighting and ventilation.

– Have you chosen the quietest area to work? When choosing a spot in the home or on the property, the noise levels need to be taken into account, including domestic and any exterior noise sources.

– Have you checked with the local council regarding planning laws in relation to your future business activities? This is a major consideration if you are purchasing a new property; check the local planning laws and what you can do before you purchase the property.

– Do you have adequate parking for the people who may visit your home office?

– Will your business activity disturb neighbours?

– Before you set up your home office, check with your accountant on any tax implications that result from tax claims on running costs for the business.

– Ensure you have appropriate insurance to cover clients visiting your home and any business equipment in the new home office.

If you renovate to create a home office, check your existing insurance policy is adequate to cover the renovations.

If you are considering a home office renovation, Archicentre has a free Cost Guide available at