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If you work from home, here are some tips for staying productive and making sure your home office is optimized for working remotely.

USA TODAY

While home offices have grown in popularity in recent years, they are no longer just the trend, but the new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people to work and study remotely. While working from home has its perks, it’s not always a glamorous option, especially since most homes aren’t designed to function as an office as well.

The good news? You don’t have to give up your current residence and relocate to create a functional home workspace. Whether big or small, turning that room, nook, or nook into a home office has never been easier when you have expert designers by your side.

Common mistakes

When the pandemic first hit, many rushed to set up makeshift home offices. Others may have already used designated offices a few days a month. However, the new demands of daily remote work require a thoughtful design of these areas. “When you spend eight hours in a space, you have to make it look pretty so that you look forward to going there every day,” says Gala Magriñá, designer and director of Design by Gala Magriñá in Long Island City, NY “When you work from home all day, you need to redesign your space and design it for all-day use.”

Mary Maydan, Founder and Director of Maydan Architects in Palo Alto, Calif., says, for example, a husband and wife who previously shared an office space near the living room and kitchen, with chairs for their kids to hang out while they knocked out work extra at home.

When the husband started working full time from home, he needed the quietness so he could make phone calls and take video meetings, which meant the current after-hours workspace was no longer responding to his needs. needs. So he moved to the basement, setting up a designated office there.

Whether your basement is right for you is another matter, and perhaps the most obvious mistake is choosing the wrong place in the house for an office. You certainly want to be away from distractions, but they differ from person to person. “You have to think about what distracts you the most,” Maydan says.

Location, location, location

Location really matters, which may be why one of the biggest home office trends now is ADUs, or accessory housing units. These are essentially separate structures from your primary residence. “Until last year, only designers knew what ADUs were, one of the reasons I called them ‘guesthouses’ with clients,” says Maydan.

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Although designers usually created them, now you can buy pre-made ADUs. “Today everyone is talking about ADUs because if you have the space and your zoning codes allow it, it is a wonderful solution that allows you to be close to your family and home while having a quiet place to work. ”

Of course, not everyone has the funds or space for a DSU. So when thinking about where to place your office, think about your work style and weaknesses first, says Maydan. Are you easily tempted to eat? So being near the kitchen is not a good option. Do your children regularly interrupt your concentration? So make sure you are away from the family room. “It’s best to identify your weaknesses and walk away from them,” she adds.

Consider areas in your home that are not only quiet – you can still put gaskets under doors to improve soundproofing or hang acoustic panels, says Maydan – but which will also allow for storage, especially cabinets and closets. so you don’t drown in the mess. .

Natural light is another important variable to consider. “The sun sends signals to your body throughout the day that affect your circadian rhythms, making you more alert and productive,” Magriñá says. Natural light can even give you a psychological boost, improving your mood, studies show.

Make unique spaces work

Ultimately, you may not be able to get around the fact that you need to optimize a less than ideal space. But even some of the less obvious places in your home can work.

The corners of the house can also be used as offices. For example, you can place your desk in the space between two shelves. Even the corners of the house could work, says Magriñá.

What if you have an open concept floor plan and can’t create a separate area? Try putting shelves behind your desk and decorating them with books, plants, and other items, says Magriñá. The shelves will serve not only as a limit but also as storage. Or consider adding a screen or glass door to separate the space, which Maydan has done with several clients.

With a little creativity, a basement or even a garage can double as a home office. Rule # 1 with both? “Clear the mess,” Maydan says. Otherwise, this build-up could distract you.

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Flex that creative muscle a little more and you might find office space in an even more unexpected place: the closet. Cloffices, essentially cupboards transformed into desks, are also in fashion. While this might seem like a crazy option, it comes with a hidden benefit. “With a desk, you can close the door so you can’t see the desk when you’re done working,” says Magriñá. This can go a long way in creating a work-life balance. Consider using a compact statement desk compared to a traditional desk to create more space.

Of course, the biggest downside with many closets and basements is not having access to natural light, which is why Maydan recommends using brighter colors on the walls. “Different colors impact your mood in different ways,” Maydan says. While dark colors tend to be depressing, bright colors like reds and yellows are energizing and light colors are calming. Hang up art and inspirational quotes that give you joy In basements, you can also introduce an element of nature by adding fake 4 to 5 foot plants.

Fortunately, many garages have windows that provide some natural light. There are usually many electrical outlets, so you can easily add lighting. Just avoid fluorescent lights, which can disrupt your circadian rhythms and give you headaches if you’re sensitive to them, says Magriñá. She recommends looking for lights of 3,000 to 5,000 lumens. Heating and air conditioning can be regulated with radiators and window air conditioners, explains Maydan.

Ultimately, the effort to create the best setting for your home office will benefit your health and well-being. “Think of a well-meaning home office as a form of personal care,” says Magriñá. “Taking the time to create this space will help you be happier and more productive.”

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