The massive shift to working from home is evident as you drive around town. You can see huge office buildings with only a few cars in the parking lot. As an example, the IBM parking lot near the Diagonal Highway is mostly empty now. In the 1980s it was filled with thousands of cars and employees.
Even before the pandemic led to widespread reliance on remote work, homebuyers often requested that a study be a part of a home floor plan.
Many new homes I sold that were constructed in the 1990s had a study, usually somewhere near the entryway, which was built into the floor plan. Pre-Internet, a study might have walls of shelves filled with books relating to a profession. Picture a leather chair, filing cabinets, and a bulky desk bedecked with the business equipment of the time, such as a typewriter or fax machine. The study was often a place of refuge to sit and think, and get some work done. In the mid-1990s, the Internet came along and the need for a library and paper files diminished rapidly. Computers shrank, and the amount of space needed for working decreased. By 2012 builders coined the term, “pocket office”, which was typically a half or a quarter of the size of a study or home office with a small built-in desk, often in the kitchen. The space was used as a place to keep household business organized and to perhaps pay the bills.
Enter COVID-19 and there has been a sudden rush to work from home for anyone who can do their job with a computer and an Internet connection. The big study has likely been converted to another type of living space, and the pocket office of 2012, off the kitchen, simply does not meet the needs for telecommuting.
According to a recent HomeLight survey of real estate agents, a home office is the feature most attractive to home buyers. With the rise of COVID-19 many architects and home builders are offering pocket offices and home offices in a variety of sizes and designs, stationed in any number of locations in a floor plan. The essentials are that the office space can be closed off quickly if the dog starts barking and the kids are riled up during a Zoom meeting yet close enough to open the door and be part of the family when appropriate. The amount of privacy required will dictate the best location.
The size of a functional home office or pocket office is no longer governed by the quantity of books and files necessary for the job. All you need now is enough space for a chair and a desk – maybe even a standing desk – and cabinets or space for storage.
Proper lighting is critical to avoid eye strain and keep your work day productive. Natural light helps but needs to be positioned properly so as not to cause computer glare. Many types of lights are available now, some even designed for online meetings.
Other necessities include WiFi or cable broadband, enough electrical outlets to power all your devices, and even soundproofing for a quiet workspace.
If you are in the market for a new home with a home office, contact your Realtor®. Your Realtor® knows which home builders in the area have adapted their floor plans to meet the needs of this trend.
Read more at: What’s Motivating Moves During the Pandemic; Realtor Magazine: magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/07/14/whats-motivating-moves-during-the-pandemic.
Forget kitchen upgrades. What everyone desperately wants is a home office; HousingWire: housingwire.com/articles/forget-kitchen-upgrades-what-everyone-desperately-wants-is-a-home-office.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit BoulderPropertyNetwork.com.