The flexibility afforded by a “zero-commute” combined with the skyrocketing price of gasoline has strengthened the case for full time teleworking and telecommuting. According to an Environmental Protection Agency (2004) study:
“Americans spend an average of 46 hours per year stuck in traffic. Gridlock produces more than $63 billion in congestion costs per year”
The artist community has been well acquainted with the use of work/living spaces for years, but improvements in technology have made the benefits of teleworking and occasional telecommuting more attractive to general consumers. According to the key findings form the International Telework Association & Council (ITAC) Telework America (2000) study:
“Home-based teleworkers also have larger homes, on average, than non-teleworkers; the difference amounting to about 500 square feet. The most popular place for an office in these larger homes is a spare bedroom, with the living room a distant second. The primary home telework activity is computer work (55% of total activities), followed by telephoning, reading, and—averaging 7% of the time—face to face meetings.”
As you purchase your next home, there are certain factors to consider if you need to set up a new home office:
Make sure that your high-tech needs can be met. Have a qualified electrician inspect the wiring of the house to see if the system can handle the extra power load that your home office requires. Older homes may need significant upgrades to handle the extra power, while newer homes are built with more energy-efficient systems to handle the additional power along with heating/air conditioning requirements. If you use cable, DSL or satellite internet access, check with your local service provider to see if access is available in your new neighborhood. Shop around for your telephone provider—in some cases, business service bundles may be more cost effective than regular residential service.
Designate where your office space will be. Determine the amount of space you will need to accommodate your work style and space. In many cases a spare bedroom or living room space can be used, if a formal den option is not available. If your work requires heavy telephone usage or just heads-down concentration, you may want to consider utilizing a room with a door. Doors can be closed to reduce interruptions from other family and household noises.
Plan your office blueprint to include all required furniture, bookcases, computers, fax, and printers. Make sure to allow for filing and storage space for files and extra office supplies. Lighting is critical for computer or assembly work, so make sure to allow for direct sunlight along with any specific task lighting that may be necessary. Select flooring options that will allow you to work comfortably—you may wish to go with hardwood or laminate flooring to allow for your chair to move smoothly across the floor. Install enough phone lines to cover your home, business and fax machines needs.
Is the office easily accessible? If you will expect regular package deliveries, make sure that your designated office is easily accessible to the front door of the home. This is also necessary if you will need to meet clients or visitors in your office and would like to ensure a professional appearance for your business.
Find out about local business requirements. Some cities have zoning restrictions and guidelines for work/living spaces along with tax implications. Make sure to check with your local government to determine if special restrictions exist.