Office space is found here, there, everywhere

Today, a home office may not be an actual room in your home.

People sprawl out on the couch with a laptop they keep plugged in nearby; they read at the kitchen island with a snack at hand; or maybe they work outside on the deck — with a view. Even people who work from home settle into all sorts of unconventional places, from bar stools to beds to any other breakfast nook and cranny that's not a home office.

Fewer people want a traditional home office “room.” Remember when people needed a big desk and a lot of stuff to work, including reference books, files, landline phones, big phone books and large desktop computers hooked to modems to access the internet?

Today, with smaller homes and smarter use of space, new houses are designed with an open concept floor plan and workspace often is integrated into everyday life. And technology removes the limits of traditional design. All you need to work is a laptop and Wi-Fi, and off you go.

Area builders offer plans that give buyers several choices for work space. As we move away from physically defining rooms, most floor plans offer a flex room on the first floor, which allows people to decide what they want the room to be, said Jeremy Lund, director of sales for Shodeen Homes.

“It's easy with a laptop to sit anywhere in the house. Many people want to work at an enlarged kitchen island, in the great room or bedroom, getting away from formal definition of room space.”

A flex room on the first floor is favored by buyers because they can use it as a home office, exercise room, playroom or anything they want. And buyers more than ever want the ability to personalize, customize and select options that make a new home their own.

Because every buyer's needs are different, M/I Homes also believes it's important to model the flexibility of the builder's living spaces. “Our buyers look for a flex space that can be used in a variety of ways,” said Cheryl Bonk, vice president of sales and marketing. “All our plans offer a space that buyers can outfit as a home office whether it's a flex room, a loft on the second floor or a nook off the kitchen.”

Similarly, most of Plote Homes' designs feature two bedrooms and den or office, which again can flex into any usage. The room sits in the front of the home with a coffered ceiling and a nice window with a view. When you enter the home, it's one of the first rooms you see, and the home office is a point of interest with nice furnishings, said Scott Ballard, director of home building.

For Toll Brothers, a home office is not a major priority for most buyers, said Ashley Newberg, design center manager. “Most of our plans come with a first-floor study, which has been very popular. In the last few years, we've been offering planning centers, a small space that accommodates one to three people, and we offer several planning center options.

“In our higher-end homes, buyers may want to work in a private place that is closed off, and they will use the first-floor study.”

However, some people don't like being closed in an office. They feel trapped, tucked away and stuck when in a closed-off space, thus the popularity of moving around in an open space.

This does not mean the home office is disappearing, but less space is being dedicated as formal office space, and it is becoming more integrated into everyday living areas.

This smaller, lighter desk can serve as a workstation without the need for a designated room to be a formal home office. Courtesy of Geneva Home Works
Businesses that sell desks and office equipment have homeowners in mind. This stylish table desk would look good in any room. Courtesy of Villa Park Office Equipment
This is an O-leg desk from Villa Park Office Equipment. Courtesy of Villa Park Office Equipment
This is a table desk from Villa Park Office Equipment. Courtesy of Villa Park Office Equipment
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