When the Home Meets the Home Office
Every weekday morning, millions of people wake up, get dressed, and go to work—without ever stepping outside their house. Today, one in five Americans works from home at least one day per week. Yet this evolution of work hasn’t necessarily led to an evolution of the home office.
Maxwell Ryan, Founder and CEO of Apartment Therapy, believes that the home is the most important space we inhabit. But when the needs of living collide with the needs of working, he acknowledges that there can be some tension.
“People generally consider the home to be their relaxation and living space, and are a bit apprehensive about honoring their workspace at home,” Maxwell said.
What are the consequences of this apprehension? Maxwell sets a common scene: A worker spread out at the dining room table, perched on a wooden chair, hunched over a laptop. He warns against this manner of working. “People need to make their workspace as professional as they want their work to be,” he said.
Maxwell’s advice for creating a professional home-working environment starts with one of Apartment Therapy’s founding tenets. “Your home is the most important space you have,” he said. “It‘s the only space you can call yours. It’s the foundation of your happiness and success in the world.”
Apart from the home office essentials—a good work chair and a desk that’s the right height—Maxwell suggests accounting for some elements routinely taken for granted in the office, and ignored altogether in home offices.
“When you‘re working all day, it‘s important to have good lighting,” Maxwell said. This means a good task lamp, supplemented with natural light. “Also, a big screen,” he added. “A large screen can increase productivity and eye comfort. It’s also a relatively inexpensive addition to one‘s home office.”
As for where to work, Maxwell’s advice is simple: “Don‘t tuck yourself into a small part of your home. If you really do a full-time job from home, use a big room for your office. And don‘t have work stretching from office, to kitchen counter, to bedroom side table, and back again. Your one area can be a busy one, but that‘s far better than your work getting into your off-duty living space.”
“There‘s something wonderfully tangible and accessible about making change to one‘s own space, or setting it up to be better, or more beautiful, or more organized. I think those small victories are tremendously powerful and often underestimated.”