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The thing to covet in 2020…a home office

Diane Hall


Person working on a laptop with a camera and coffee on a wooden desk

With so many people forced to work from home during the national lockdown and beyond, because of Covid-19 and social distancing regulations, the desire for a dedicated space has risen exponentially.

The luckier amongst us may already have a home office or spare room that can easily be given over to this purpose. There are many more, however, who don’t have this luxury, and whose living space is already overrun.

Whilst working from the kitchen table is doable in the short-term, for those employees whose companies are formally incorporating some form of homeworking into their roles, it isn’t exactly suitable for a prolonged period. Dining/kitchen chairs aren’t ergonomic like office chairs (there has reportedly been a real shortage of office chairs for UK consumers during the last few months, such has been the demand for them). Clearing away work-stuff every day for dinner isn’t ideal either.

Though the number of people moving house has burgeoned during the latter half of this year, not everyone can afford to, or wishes to, move. Homeworkers in this position have instead looked at ways to maximise their space to fit in a workstation and the other paraphernalia they need to carry out their work.

John Lewis’s Flexible Living Report 2020 has shown that 28% of its consumers have repurposed an existing room to create a space to work from. More than just an area to sit at a desk, a separate room is top of most homeworkers’ wish list, so that they can close the door for privacy during phone calls/Zoom meetings, and also to provide a physical boundary between work life and home life.

According to reports, sales of bunk beds have grown rapidly, probably so that a bedroom can be freed up to create a home office. Some homeowners have ordered or built summer/garden rooms and adapted these into offices, with a few tweaks and upgrades, such as incorporating an electric supply, broadband access and a heater.

Where a room in the house can’t be partitioned and is multiuse, homeworkers have purchased noise-cancelling headphones; sales of which have increased by 30%. 

The spending of homeworkers hasn’t just been limited to equipment. Apparently, John Lewis has seen a rise in ‘statement pieces’, i.e. art, bookcases, ornaments, etc. that look good on camera for all those Zoom calls. 

I completely understand that. I’m straying off topic here, but I must admit, as a regular viewer of BBC breakfast each morning, and after seeing some of the bland homes/corners of their many correspondents’ homes, it’s made me appreciate my own tastes in house décor. I’ve seen so many boring rooms, home furnishings and rubbish ‘artwork’ over the last six months from that programme; if I was going to be on camera, I’d certainly make sure I was filmed in front of something far more interesting than a plain white wall bearing a mahogany-framed print everyone and their dog has got.

Home offices have not just been a necessity for employees. The number of parents in need of a separate space to home-school their children has seen a similar demand for home offices or the repurposing of rooms, so that they could make the distinction to their children that ‘home school’ wasn’t simply crafting or family time at the table.

example of a loft conversion with desk, bed and wall picture

example of a loft conversion with desk, bed and wall picture

The number of loft and basement conversions has risen over the last few months, too, as people look to their extra storeys for available space. Both solutions not only address the home office issue, they also add value to a home when the homeowner opts to sell. Some homeowners have even capitalised on the spare space in the eaves of their garage, creating exterior access via a staircase to reach it.

It’s clear that a home office is the most coveted aspect of home décor and renovations at the moment. It’s also clear that people can be quite inventive in their quest for a separate space.

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