What Homeowners Want in a Home Office

Buyers seek better soundproofing, more storage, and improved lighting in their work and school spaces, according to new research from John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
Work From Home Office

Mainhouse by Insignia by CityVentures in Encinitas, Calif. Work from home research UTOPIA

If there’s one essential takeaway from John Burns Real Estate Consulting’s latest report on home office trends, it is this: A spare bedroom does not equal a functional workspace.

That’s just one of many home office-related realizations by Americans, millions of whom have been working and, in the case of families with children, learning at home since the COVID-19 crisis emerged in March 2020. 

While a spare bedroom might have seemed like an ideal solution for many occasional remote workers, the reality of multiple people working and schooling from home on a daily basis has turned out to be a challenge for many households, including those with a dedicated home office, not to mention those with no workspaces at all.

For builders seeing increased demand due to coronavirus concerns and low interest rates, it means it’s probably time to take a closer look at your home office choices. “Increased work from home means that the office is increasingly moving from an afterthought that checks a box (Does the house have one or not?), to a key space whose functionality completely changes the value of the home,” says the report, which is based on surveys of 1,242 homeowners in August 2020. 


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Lofts at Haven home office design by Mattamy Homes Work from home research UTOPIA
With a built-in desk and a window, this niche gives Mattamy Homes buyers a small, but dedicated, workspace off the kitchen at Lofts at Haven in Chandler, Ariz.

 

Work from home design trends for 2021

Here is what buyers say they want in their home workspaces:

  • Location of the home office. Builders typically put home offices in the front of the home, but homeowners say they’d prefer a workspace that was close to the master bedroom or in the rear of the house, with access to outdoor spaces. “It’s increasingly beneficial to put this space in a prime position,” according to the report. 
  • Soundproofing. Young families, who are the most likely to move and prioritize improved space for remote work and virtual school, are all too familiar with the noisy kaleidoscope of pandemic life: conference calls, math lessons, band instrument practice. For those desperately seeking the sound of silence, soundproofing is even more important than lighting. “This signals that it may amount to a smaller market volume-wise, but those who do want it may be willing to invest heavily, as it is the most important thing to them,” the report notes. 
  • Enhanced lighting. The rise in Zoom calls has illuminated just how poorly lit many home workspaces are. All of the buyer segments (young singles and couples; young families; mature families; and mature singles and couples) considered optimized lighting significant, from 74% (mature singles and couples) to 85% (young singles and couples) rating this home office feature as important.
  • Attached bathroom. For homeowners looking to make major changes to their work-from-home space, an attached bathroom was preferred over a kitchenette. The most likely group to look for this feature? Mature families. 

For more design and product ideas for home workspaces, including solutions for lighting, soundproofing, storage, download the Work From Home Part 2 report from the New Home Trends Institute, a division of John Burns Real Estate Consulting.