With a fourth season under its belt and a fifth about to begin, nobody can call the NBC comedy The Office a surprise hit or a cult favorite anymore. Instead it seems that Michael Scott and the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin family have struck a genuine chord with viewers across the country. Could it be that there's a little truth in the mundane, mind-numbing portrayal of office politics and corporate America that dominates each episode? If so, that might explain why adding a home office has become one of the most popular home improvement trends in the industry. Whether the high price of gas has you looking for ways to eliminate a costly commute, or you're fleeing the Michael Scotts and Dwight Schrutes of the world, here's a few suggestions to help you get your home office set up right.
While everybody's needs are different, there are a few things that every home office has to have now that we're firmly rooted in the computer age. In an article for Forbes Magazine, Betsy Shiffman notes that access to electrical outlets, a high speed Internet connection, and a telephone are all non-negotiable. And while you're at it, a good computer, functional desk, and a quality office chair might as well be standard issue, too. Beyond these necessities, everything else is window dressingthough window dressing isn't always a bad thing. Dwight's bobble heads, for example, might not be a necessary addition to his workspace, but you could make the case that they pay for themselves if the peace of mind and simple pleasures they provide the Schrute results in increased productivity and more paper sales for the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin!
Designing Your Home Office
Once you've got the basics covered, think hard about what else you need to make your home office feel like, well, home. Home Office Buddy, an online resource for home office design, points out that if your home office is outfitted with a boring desk, poor lighting, and blank walls, you've really just re-created the office cubicle that prompted you to invest in a home office in the first place. "Make (your home office) a playground as much as a working environment," Home Office Buddy writes, "fill it with color, posters, pictures, plants, or whatever else makes you smile the most." In other words, make it a place where you can get work done and have a little fun. On the other hand, beware of creating distractions for yourself. While Michael Scott's collection of gadgets and desk toys might make the hours fly by at work, everyone seems to agree that productivity isn't his strongpoint.
Donęt Get Carried Away
There's no question that the popularity of home offices are booming. According to Forbes Magazine, 80% of potential homebuyers are looking for a home with a home office, or with extra space that can be converted into one. Unfortunately, reason doesn't always win out when home offices are introduced into a home. Claudia Morales of Claudia Interior Design in San Juan Capistrano, CA, notes that homeowners are often unrealistic about what they want, what they need, and what they're able to pay when it comes to home office design. "Most homeowners just aren't realistic about how much things are going to cost," says Morales. "Nine times out of ten they want an extravagant, elegant design that they can't afford. They'll expect to pay $1,000 for the entire project and won't realize that the desk they want costs $3,000 all on its own." Morales' suggestion is for homeowners to do their homework and price things out ahead of time so that they can make realistic design choices that are well suited to their budget. Our own advice is to make sure and set a firm budget to begin with. Even if you need to hire a few number crunchers like Oscar, Kevin, and Angela, in order to keep your project in line and under budget, you're smart to do whatever's necessary to make sure your new home office project stays within your means and within reason.
Need help designing your new home office? Use this link toHire an Interior Decorator/Designer
The Business of Doing Business at Home
Finally, at the risk of stating the obvious, don't lose sight of the fact that your new home office needs to be a place where things get done. That can be easier said than done at home, especially when kids, the breakfast dishes, and what to cook for dinner are all competing for your time. That said, here are a few ideas that will make it easier for you to put your nose to the grindstone when it's go time.