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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Making your home office work

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According to the latest data from Global Workplace Analytics, more people are spending at least half of their working hours at home. Telecommuting, as it's commonly known, is being embraced by a wide variety of companies and their employees. Managers appreciate the productivity gains, and workers like the flexibility telecommuting offers. As telecommuting becomes less a perk and more of a given, home offices have become a desirable feature in the real estate market. If you're looking to create a versatile workspace that can increase the resale value of your home, in addition to passing a house inspection, aim for simplicity over style.

First steps
A home office is a great choice for a practical addition to your house, but it comes with many considerations. Who will use the office and what will they primarily be doing there? What equipment or activities does the space need to accommodate? An office designed for general desk work will look much different than one intended for video production, or graphic design, or sculpting or whatever your profession or hobby may be. If you use your home office primarily for professional work, you can claim a tax credit for it as well.

If all that sounds good to you, start by choosing what room or area would work best as an office. A spare bedroom will work perfectly for most office needs. If you have the budget for it, consider utilizing a space separate from the rest of your home. This will not only allow for more freedom in design, but create an additional separation between work and life that may be beneficial. If your office needs aren't significant, you may not even have to sacrifice the guest room completely - the basic office necessities won't take up too much space.

Office outfitting
Once you have a room in mind, begin planning the equipment and layout. Start by thinking of what you need at a typical office to complete your work effectively. If you can't decide what exactly you need to outfit your home workspace, just consider what you use at your usual office. For many, a desk with a couple drawers, a PC and a chair may be more than enough for a part-time telecommuting area. If you plan on working from home the majority of the time, you may want more space, a comfier seat, and a hint of ambience. Minimize distractions and avoid setting up near any TVs or high-traffic areas in your home. Simply being able to close a door between the office and the rest of your home will make a world of difference.

A home office doesn't need to be adults-only either. Kids will get a lot out of a quiet space optimized for long periods of concentration. If you want to make your home office homework-friendly, make simplicity a priority. Use shelves and drawers to keep kids' supplies organized and separate from what the grown-ups use. Ample lighting is a must: A well-lit room encourages concentration. Just as for adults, it's best to keep this space free of games, toys or extra screens to cut down on procrastination. Make sure the kid space is big enough for mom or dad to help with math problems too.

True value
Converting a spare room into a home office can be a wise investment in more than just your productivity. Given the increase in the number of workers with the option of telecommuting, home buyers will look favorably upon a well-designed home office. A special homework space is a big selling point for a young family as well. Extra effort put toward full realization of the workspace will pay dividends when it's time to sell. Before going wild with the renovations, though, it's important to consider the flip-side of this argument. Zillow warns against subtracting a bedroom that may be just as valuable to potential buyers, if not more. As long as the room can be easily converted back into a conventional room, there's no need to worry.

As mentioned previously, workers who primarily telecommute have the option to write off a portion of their home expenses as work-related tax deductions. This process can be complicated, as it involves calculating proportions of your mortgage, utilities and other household expenses based on the square-footage of the office. It may be worth hiring a tax professional to assist with this process.

A home office can do wonders for your productivity, in addition to your resale value. If you're looking to make the move, keep the basics in mind before moving forward.