If you have a home-based business or telecommute, you are one of the millions of Americans who probably have or want a home office. What seems to be a staple of modern living wasn’t always so.
The home office most likely developed from the “study” that existed in the larger homes of the well-to-do. These rooms were usually separated from the rest of the house providing privacy for the home owner to read, meet with others and, of course, conduct business. As the middle-class grew, their leisure time did too. The two or three bedroom home was getting too small. Home owners desired a separate designated space to read, hobby and do other work. The standard middle-class home grew in size and added other features, such as a family room, rec room and the home office. Although the home office, like other specialty rooms, lost its popularity after the Great Recession, it quickly regained popularity as the recession subsided.
Although the room may have looked like a standard office with a desk and chair, early home offices weren’t really used as a full-time space for the home owner’s job. Most mid-century occupations required employees to report to a place of business. However, as technology developed, the ability to work from home increased. According to Allied Telecom (alliedtelecom.net), Jack Niles coined the term “telecommute” in 1972 when he “remotely” worked on a NASA communication system. Working from home gained popularity during the 1970s energy crisis, when employers needed to reduce energy consumption and employees found they spent increasing amounts of time in rush hour traffic
The demand for the home office didn’t serendipitously coincide with home buyer activity, but actually increased due to changes in the Americans workforce. Additionally, the popularity of the home office can most likely be gauged by the growth of affordable technology. The advent of home computing in the 1980s allowed many office workers to bring their work home. Modems allowed employees to remotely connect to their employers. However, it wasn’t until the development of the internet and subsequently broadband that full-time telecommuting jobs and home based businesses flourished.
A home office is very important to home buyers. According to the Q2 2018 American Institute of Architects Quarterly Home Design Trends Survey (aia.org), 35% of respondents indicated that having a home office is a trending home feature.
Of course, home office design has changed through the years. Besides allocating a room for a home work space, technology has had a hand in redefining the home office. The home office has transformed from the dedicated room to do actual work, to a “home tech flex space” that may contain a desk, printer and router, while Wi-Fi allows the home owner to roam the home (even outside). It’s not uncommon to see your neighbor on their deck working on their laptop.
Finding a home that fits your lifestyle is essential. If you’re a home buyer who telecommutes or has a home based business, you want a home office. Unfortunately, you know that housing inventory is low, and homes with this feature are further limited. To help with your search, consider homes that have flexible spaces that can be used as your home office. Also, because there are many home renovation loan programs, including loans with streamlined options, you might consider homes that have the potential to expand for a home office.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Success in Potomac, MD. You can access more information at www.DanKrell.com