New Home Office Ideas for Parents Working From Home
Many employers have responded to surveys conducted by organizations such as The Pew Center that they will continue letting their employees work from home after the pandemic ends. Many people welcome this news since most people found that working from home increased their productivity. If you’re a parent working from home, you might need a few new home office ideas to help you make what you probably thought was a temporary situation a more permanent thing. You cannot continue working on a couple of stacked milk crates forever or a cobbled together door over two sawhorses. You will also need a spot to corral your children once they come home from school until your workday ends at 5 or 6 pm. Let’s start with the basics with these new home office ideas and build up to the big changes in your home.
Fix Up Your House
Your first order of business in building your new home office is fixing up the house itself. For nearly a year, most people did not work or worked in a reduced capacity. You, like many, probably let things go with your home since you could not have a work crew visit to repair it. Now, you need to conduct a self-inspection of your home. Look at the roof, the awnings, the gutters, the eaves, and the foundation. On the inside, examine the attic and its ceiling, the insulation, and the attic beams and flooring. You may find that your home needs roof repair or that you need to install additional insulation. Before you start implementing new home office ideas, upgrade your home to make sure no leaks exist.
Check your appliances, too. Make sure your washing machine, fridge, freezer, hot water heater, well water pump, and sump pump all work well. You need the water flowing through your home without leaks. You also need the water coming into your home flowing well and without leaks. If you notice a leak, you might need well water pump repair.
Take care of these major items first. We’ve all let major home maintenance slide a little while the pandemic required social distancing. Now, we can schedule maintenance and repair work again.
Find a Private But Comfortable Area to Transform into a Home Office
Perhaps you started a home business while the pandemic sequestered us all. Maybe you meant to find commercial property for rent, but now you realize that you could easily create a home office using some nifty new home office ideas you spotted on TV, in magazines, or from what your neighbor told you about across the fence.
Walk through your home with a discerning eye. What areas do you see that could conceivably become an office? Would you want an open environment or an office with a door you could shut? What area of the house could accommodate a high-speed Internet drop? Do you need a landline, or can you use a cell phone for all of your business?
Your office area should provide ample space, lots of electrical outlets, adequate ventilation, and perhaps, its own entry door. Creating this might require a little work. You might end up transforming your attic, basement, or spare bedroom into an office, but it might take a little work and the help of a contractor first.
Ensure Your Home Office Has Plenty of Room for Electronics
Before you begin any construction project, check with your city and county to learn if it requires a permit. You also need to check the building code. This lets you avoid fines, court appearances, and court costs plus attorney fees. Plus, if you build without getting proper permitting, the city and/or county has the right to dismantle what you had constructed. On the upside, permits usually cost little – less than $50. That’s a tiny fee compared to the construction costs, remodeling costs, or the cost of going to court. So, before you get too carried away with your new home office ideas, check the rules and follow them.
Most homes lack the necessary electrical outlets for a home office. Only the newest homes come with a flex room or extra room that they can use as a bedroom, office, home theater, or playroom. Unless your home was constructed in the past 10 to 15 years, it won’t have one of these unless you or the prior owners remodeled it. You will need an electrician to conduct this work unless you are a certified electrician. You need enough outlets and an upgraded breaker box to accommodate a computer, a printer, an extra monitor, a phone charger or landline phone, and an answering machine.
You may also need a scanner/copier. Most people want a microwave and mini-fridge/freezer in their home office to make snacking easier as well. You’ll probably want a coffee or teapot, too. If you have been counting outlets, you know you probably have no room in your home with that many wall outlets in one or two adjacent walls. You have eight items and with two plugs per outlet, you need four outlets. Your surge protector should not become a permanent method of accommodating more appliances than your home’s electrical system load can accommodate. Upgrade rather than create a fire hazard.
Thrift Furniture to Save Money
You may not have worked much at your regular job for about a year. Suddenly, you get to go back to work, but without the commute. Yes, new office furniture would be grand, but you probably don’t have a grand to spend on it. Shop thrift stores and restaurant and hotel supply stores for great deals. Those work desks that hotels have in their rooms make fine office desks. You can pick one up for a small price at a hotel supply store. These used furniture shops buy out the furniture from restaurants and hotels that are closing or redecorating.
All you need is to hire a mover or furniture installation company to help you move it from the store to your home. You can also come up with new home office ideas by browsing these stores. You could find the perfect desk lamp, too!
Purchase Organizational Materials
Your employer may provide a list of organizational materials and office supplies they expect you to have on-hand. It will be a bit like the shopping lists you get from your child’s school each fall. You can pick it all up at the same time. Shop at a local office supply location. National chains carry the same items at all stores, so you can find the items your New York City boss wants you to own at the local store near your apartment building in New Jersey. These spots offer more new home office ideas because you will see the latest gadgets and trends in organization, time management, marketing, and other business practices.
Some companies might require you to go through a training course before officially working from home. These might be bespoke courses created for the company by experts in remote officing, or it might be a course hosted by a major online education site. This might include a manager certification for those who typically manage a team in the office. You may also need to sign additional paperwork such as a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which necessitates you visiting the business’s attorney. These documents such as the NDA simply contractually stipulate what your employer could have controlled in the office environment – who visits the office, who has access to their files and information, with whom you share their trade secrets, and more.
Less mundane things, like a planner or planning software, also fall into this category. Office supply stores also usually carry a selection of business books. You can pick up a title or two on working from home, how to increase productivity, setting boundaries for family and friends, and much more.
Hang Up Some Fun Decorations
Once back in your home, you probably want to relax. Who knew constructing a home office would take so much work? All that shopping, school, and reading; it is almost like you went back to college! By now, you have a room with appropriate electrical outlets and some basic furniture. Hang some wallpaper with sailboats or anchors or flowers on it. Whatever your favorite things are, put them within sight. You might collect ships in a bottle, so treat yourself to looking online at new boats. Decorate with football memorabilia if you love the American sport.
You need to make this area welcoming to your kids since they will probably spend a few minutes in the room with you when they first come home from school. Among your new home office ideas, you need to create a space for them to study, too. It should not be in the same room as your office. You need an uninterrupted workspace — and so do they. Their space should be well-lit and roomy. It needs a large enough table that they can spread out their homework and books. While their first inclination when returning home is probably to play, you need to give them about 15 minutes when they come in to talk to you and eat a light snack. A protein snack will help them have energy and tide them over until dinner. It also gives them and you a short break to talk and eat.
Getting Your Family Ready for You Working from Home
You both go to work after that break. Most schools get out at 2 or 3 pm in the U.S., but the workday for adults does not end until 5 or 6 pm. You need to talk with your children before your workplace has you return to regular hours. They need to understand that although you are at home, you do have to do your job, and your employer still pays you to work until 5 or 6 pm. They should do their homework while you do your office work. This helps them address their homework while they’re awake and alert. Waiting until after dinner to start means they would not begin studying until 7 or 8 pm.
Children and adults need at least eight hours of sleep. If their bedtime is 10 pm to get up at 6 am to get ready and make it to school by 8 am, they would only have two to three hours for homework and bathing if they waited. Having this talk in a formalized way before you return to work helps prepare them. You can remind them as the days pass by conducting practice sessions where you make a snack and have it waiting for them when they return home from school. Make the break 15 minutes, and get into the habit of each of you going to your office after the break ends.
Your new home office ideas need to extend to matters beyond a sturdy chair with lumbar support and a desk with a credenza. You need to prepare your family for the transition. Nearly 10% of the U.S. got furloughed or fired when the pandemic hit. At one point, the U.S. unemployment rate spiked to just above 14%. It normally hovers at 3%. Many people have become accustomed to not working and their children acclimated to having them at home and with copious free time. Now, everyone must transition back to normal. Others worked part-time and remotely while their children home-schooled in what seemed the largest remote living experiment ever. Now, they have returned to school, but their parents remain at home. The biggest transition may be set boundaries and enforcing them so that you get your work done and they excel in their schoolwork.
Pick Up a Hobby to Balance Your Time at Home
One last tidbit of advice for working from home is to pick up a hobby to balance your time at home between work, family, and fun. Perhaps making your own whiskey has always piqued your interest. Perhaps you’ve been interested in learning how to fix up cars to sell them for a profit. If this is the case, looking for repairable salvage cars for sale could make for an interesting find that could allow you to pick up some new skills and earn some extra money.
Other hobbies you could pick up that could also involve your kids include hiking, walking, gardening, and practicing yoga. Make it a family affair so everyone can spend time together after work and school.
You can easily transform an area of your home into a home office by taking these new home office ideas into consideration. You need a little furniture, a home contractor, some paint or wallpaper, and a new attitude. You can truly increase your productivity while working from home when you put some effort into the space you’ll be working in.