Over the last couple of months as I’ve been walking my dog in the early evening, I’m noticing more and more houses with the glow of blue light in the front room and behind that light is a head buried in a screen. About 80% of these “heads” are working hard at their desks, in their working from home spaces, which are effectively “glassed-in front verandahs”.
Two things stand out to me:
- Do they know how clearly, I can see them and what they are doing?
- Are they comfortable in this space? Feeling the cold?
With increasing numbers of people working from home due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, creating a functional and comfortable home workspace is key. A space away from the rest of the household is desirable, and if you have a verandah, it is a perfect spot…. it’s quiet, out of the way, a space where you can remove yourself from the family; potentially more office-like and with the added benefit of allowing you to see out to your streetscape and feel part of the world around you. If you are currently using your verandah as your working from home space, is it working?
Traditionally the verandah was designed and built as a transitional space between public and private, where you were meant to see, as well as be seen. In the ’60s and ’70s, many of these spaces went through a transformational change of purpose, they were enclosed using a combination of timber panelling with fixed and operable windows; to be used as additional storage spaces; sunrooms and sometimes combined with the adjacent bedroom.
Originally these spaces were constructed of a single leaf of brickwork between brick piers and a lined tiled roof extension over it. The timber and glazed infill elements were a very cost-effective solution; however, this form of construction has poor thermal and insulation qualities.
To heat or cool these spaces now requires all manner of devices, and these aren’t generally your highly energy-efficient varieties, and the benefit is soon lost. Moreover, in winter, the combination of internal warmth, a cold and damp outside and poor insulation also leads to condensation and mould growth.
In essence the verandah updates of the 60’s and 70’s were not designed to house a suitable home office space. Notwithstanding the temperature issues mentioned above, unless you’re careful, being in the front of the home without the right privacy elements in place, means your home office space could now be considered a “shop front” for your neighbourhood thief displaying all your expensive computer equipment and allowing the watchful to easily monitor your daily routine. So if your expensive computers, stationery, or reference materials aren’t pinched, they are in for a shorter than usual life span.
What are some of the common requirements for creating the perfect working from home workspace?
- A dedicated work surface that’s large enough to accommodate your remote working technology.
- A supportive and ergonomically designed chair.
- Good lighting, preferably an area with good natural light.
- Good ventilation, to avoid the issues associated with poor air quality and save energy.
- A good level of privacy. No one can work effectively in a sea of noise or interruptions.
- Storage space for office supplies and other materials. Having a dedicated space in your home to keep your work supplies –drawers, bin, ability to store and lockup valuables.
If you would like to learn more about planning a good at-home workspace, see this checklist from Safework NSW :Working-from-home-workplace-checklist.pdf (nsw.gov.au)
During the pandemic, and likely well afterward, many people will work from home. If your current home workspace is not fitting the bill, it’s worth talking to your local architect about how they can help improve your workspace to support your working ability and your wellbeing.
Willoughby Architects is an architectural firm based in Willoughby on Sydney’s lower North Shore. We design, organise approvals and project manage the building process for new build homes and renovations for existing homes. At Willoughby Architects, we are committed to producing sustainable, innovative architecture.
Contact our Principal Architect, Wayne Farmilo today for a Needs & Options Review.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 0412 998 027
About the Author: Wayne Farmilo, Founder & Principal Architect of Willoughby Architects, has been a Registered Architect in VIC and NSW for 25 years. Wayne started his own practice in 2002, initially focusing on the retail and commercial space; however, since 2012 the practice has actively focused on residential design projects.