Once upon a time, the must-haves on property wish lists were often an ensuite or open-plan kitchen. Today, that want list has evolved – a home office or study has skyrocketed up that catalogue of dream items on homebuyers and renters’ minds.
A combination of lifestyle factors and the shock of an ongoing pandemic has meant that a space devoted to work is a win-win setup that is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.
The WFH movement (you know it’s serious when you have an acronym for it) is here to stay: if you’re thinking of selling, renovating or buying a property, having a home office is a coveted and smart move.
The number one factor that has catapulted the home office into the limelight is the profound change in people’s working lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of millions of people around the world to bunker down at home and do their job within the four walls of their residence. The concept of doing your job away from the office was not new, but the worldwide medical emergency has merely cemented working from home as the new normal. People can now do their job remotely, or only go into the office once or twice a week.
The numbers says it all: in the past two years, the percentage of Australians tackling their job from home has risen from 8 per cent to a staggering 40 per cent.
Australia’s Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan has predicted that “working from home will continue at higher levels than we saw before the pandemic” and the health emergency is still far from over.
Noel Jones Director Paul Leydin has seen a marked increase in people enquiring about properties with a dedicated home office space over the past two years: “Many buyers have been seeking to upgrade to a bigger property that has a home office. After working from the dining room table or having a desk squeezed into a bedroom, buyers are craving a room to do their job away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” There’s now a need and desire to create boundaries between work and home life and have a haven or refuge dedicated to your job.
The freedom of flexibility is the other aspect driving the demand for home offices. Whether the office space is a study nook, a desk area or large room, the potential for multi-use represents a welcome opportunity.
A room that is used an office can in the future transform into a music area, a yoga studio, a teenage retreat, a reading nook, a movie theatre, a play room or even a man cave or nursery.
“We are seeing a lot more competition for apartments and homes that have a flexible floorplan offering a space that can be multi-functional,” says Leydin.
A flexible space in any property is a great move for owners, renters and buyers because it adds value while allowing individuals to tailor it to suit their own requirements.
In the past, home hunters would tick a box concerning how many bedrooms they wanted, but in 2022 the focus is on an extra room that can be whatever the buyer sees fit, which is most often a home office, or perhaps an art studio or music room.
With so many people having a WFH space on their minds, it’s only natural that they are finding creative ways to get that coveted area.
While scores of homeowners are adding on an extra room by renovating up or out, there are different budget options to consider. Whether you call it a tiny home, a granny flat or an office pod, there has been a surge in homeowners installing a dedicated space outside. The price for a new pod in the backyard starts at around $15,000.
For those on a smaller budget, a garden shed or garage can be transformed on a shoestring. Enclosing a porch, transforming a wardrobe cavity or customising the space under a stairwell are other creative options also worth exploring with a qualified builder or carpenter.
As the WFH revolution has taken hold in Melbourne and around the world, more than ever our home is our sanctuary. The concept of five days a week in the office is redundant for many, and our dwellings are adapting to this new reality.
Whether you plan to buy or sell a property, a home office – otherwise known as a multi-functional space – will see you thrive in this altered way of life.