Louise Lingerman's Blog
Although it may seem like the Internet and email have always been an integral part of our daily lives, those modes of modern communication have only been around for the past two decades or so.
With technology like video teleconferencing, online document sharing, and other collaborative tools becoming commonplace in the business arena, more and more companies are allowing (and even encouraging) their employees to work from home -- at least a couple days a week. For better or worse, many employees, managers, and executives are putting in lots of overtime from their home offices.
Whether you're telecommuting for a job or running your own home-based business, having a dedicated work space can make all the difference in your ability to stay focused and productive. Not only can you control distractions by closing the door, but having a separate work space at home makes it easier to stay organized and maintain a professional image. Depending on the layout of your house, the cooperation of your family, and neighborhood zoning regulations, it may even be possible to meet with clients at your home office.
While some people don't have a problem setting up their laptop and working at the kitchen table, in their bedroom, or the living room, problems can arise when your spouse or other members of the family want to use your temporary work space for something else!
Other potential complications are possible, too: When people in your household have easy access to your computer, work files, and research materials, there's also the possibility of accidentally losing unsaved documents, unfinished emails being prematurely sent or closed, and having to deal with spills, sticky surfaces, misplaced work materials, and other miscellaneous mishaps! On the other hand, setting aside a dedicated work space at home for tackling office projects, preparing reports, or creating client proposals can help you avoid losing valuable work, missing deadlines, and looking unprofessional.
Home Offices Are a Selling Point
In addition to making your own life more organized and less chaotic, there's also the advantage of increasing your home's marketability. If you happen to be considering putting your house on the market now or in the near future, having a dedicated office space will help make your home look more appealing to potential buyers.
Today, more than ever, the idea of having a home office is on many people's minds and priority lists -- or at least, their "wish list". When prospective buyers can envision ways in which your home can meet their lifestyle goals, business objectives, and career requirements, they'll be a lot more likely to seriously consider making an offer on your house.
As more and more people pursue work-at-home options, freelancing opportunities, advanced degrees, and home-based businesses, a dedicated office space will continue to be a highly desirable feature for both current and future home owners.
Many house hunters are so focused on finding the ideal house, yard, and neighborhood, that they sometimes sacrifice one of their main objectives: a short commute to work.
At first, a long drive to the office may seem like a small price to pay for finding your ideal house, but your outlook might change when the tedium of commuter gridlock becomes a daily burden.
Fortunately, there are ways to ease the stress of being stuck in rush-hour traffic twice a day.
Car pooling: By sharing driving responsibilities with one or two other people, you can reduce the overall stress of your trip to the office. You can also save money on gas, highway tolls, and parking fees. Assuming you find carpooling companions whose company you enjoy, time will pass a lot faster. Then, of course, there's the advantage of less wear and tear on your car. Although carpooling may not be as idyllic as living 15 or 20 minutes from work, it can be an effective way to ease the burden of back-and-forth driving.
Telecommuting: As technology advances and more and more people are adapting to it, the option of working from home is becoming increasingly popular. When you consider the many options there are for document sharing and communicating remotely, you may have a strong case for proposing a work-from-home arrangement with your employer. Even though it may be necessary to meet face-to-face with coworkers, colleagues, and clients a few days a week, the ability to split your work time between home and office can save you time, money, and aggravation. As long as you can maintain your productivity working from home, it may turn out to be a life-changing arrangement! Granted, it doesn't work for everyone, but it may be well worth looking into -- at least on a part-time basis.
Public Transportation: If you happen to live close to a train station, then public transportation might be the perfect solution to an otherwise long, tedious drive into the city. Instead of concentrating on road signs and traffic conditions, you can read a book, listen to your favorite music, or prepare for a meeting or presentation. You can also check your email, get a head start on your work day, or even sneak in a few minutes of sleep or meditation.
While the best option for many people is to buy a home that's within 30 minutes of their job or business, that may be difficult to accomplish for couples working in different locations. Long commutes can infringe on important aspects of your life, though, including family time, relaxation time, and being able to get things done around the house. Not having enough time to "recharge your battery," every day, can eventually take its toll on your health, your relationships, and your outlook on life. If finding a house close to work is not panning out, then alternatives like telecommuting, carpooling, and public transportation may be, at least, a partial solution.