Maintaining a home
Three easy ways to create a home office in an office-less home
1 April 2021
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that working from home requires more than reliable internet and a kitchen table. Distractions — whether dogs barking, kids playing or phones ringing — are constant, and procrastination tempts all of us (does that messy pantry need tidying right this minute?).
You may retreat to your bedroom for that all-important Zoom call, but piles of unwashed clothes and an unmade bed don’t deliver the air of professionalism you’re hoping for. And your back aches from sitting on your mattress — or a hard kitchen stool, or the floor — for hours on end.
If working from home is going to be with us for a while, it may be time to consider a dedicated home office, rather than a makeshift one. You’ll not only feel physically better, but should also be more productive, and strike a better work-life balance. When you’re in the “office” — whether it’s a reclaimed nook or a backyard suite — it’s business time; when you leave, it’s family time.
Revamp unused spaces
Scout out unused areas in your home. That rarely used junk room could be your new home office, with just a few changes. Declutter, or put items into storage. Consider investing in a fold-out sofa instead of a guest bed, so you can create space for a desk (preferably a standing or variable one) and ergonomic chair to use during working hours.
If you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated room, seek out areas from which you can borrow space to convert into a comfortable office nook. You might fit a bench or mini-desk within a larger living space, like your kitchen, sunroom or under the stairs. Create niceties that make you want to go to work, like:
• good lighting,
• greenery, and
• shelving for storage.
Extend your home, up or out
If you have the means, motivation and time, renovating your home — whether up or out — might be the ideal way to add both space and value to your property.
The trick is to do your research to make sure that you are not overcapitalising on your investment. Work out:
• what you want to do,
• how much it will cost, and
• the approximate value of your home at the end of the renovation.
Be sure to check in advance that you can get approval for the makeover, so it won’t be delayed or hampered by council bylaws.
Build a studio office in the backyard
The same research is needed if you’re considering building a dedicated office studio or cabin in your backyard. If you have outdoor space that goes unused, this option has a lot of advantages — like creating a quiet, private space for you to work undisturbed, surrounded by nature. You can spend as much (think architect-designed) or as little (prefab) as you like on your setup.
Keep in mind that, depending on the size of the structure and its proximity to the fenceline, you may need to apply for construction permission.
A little planning can give you both the office space you need, and some long-term side benefits you might not have expected.
Ensure your home office is covered
If you already have Home Insurance, renovating your home may render it inadequate — as you’re increasing the amount it would take to rebuild your home by adding extra elements. Ensure your sum insured takes this into account.
If you don’t have Home Insurance, or it’s coming up for renewal and you’re weighing up your options, consider Suncorp Home and Contents Insurance. There are three levels to choose from, with a range of optional covers, so it’s easy to find a policy that suits you.
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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.