A new breed of workers in The Hills is saying No to commuter stress and Yes to working from home. They are the savvy Baby Boomers, or retire-preneurs, keen to become their own boss. And they are not working from the kitchen table…

The headline of the Forbes magazine article says it all: ‘16 Billionaires Who Started Working from Home’. Gone is the myth of the lazy home worker, sitting in pyjamas at lunchtime in front of a computer balanced precariously on a stack of paper on the kitchen table.

Working from home is slowly but surely gaining increased corporate recognition as a demonstrated means of improving worker productivity. It is also, for many, an attempt at achieving a better life-work balance, outside of the daily grind. Boomers, in particular, value work flexibility more than a higher salary.

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And as the traditional workplace is being redefined, and working from home is becoming more mainstream, it is attracting an increasingly wide array of people, including so-called “second-generation CEOs” ‒ Baby Boomers who are opting for an early retirement and setting up new businesses from the comfort of their stylish home office.

Also nicknamed the “retire-preneurs”, these Baby Boomers have decades of experience behind them, a wealth of networks, and, last but not least, savings. Most importantly, they want to be their own boss.

But setting up a successful home office does require some careful planning and consideration. It is, after all, where you’ll be spending many hours a day and where, as in any other office, functional organisation and equipment will be key to your motivation, efficiency and productivity.
See our six tips for your Hills home office

1 Check your internet requirements

Catherine Madders from Stone in Castle Hills remarks that many of her clients are now planning on working from home. They no longer want to travel into the city every day; instead they will set up a home office, and hop on the train for a quick breakfast meeting whenever needed. The upcoming train stations make this option particularly attractive.

But the most common question she gets asked concern internet connectivity. The Hills is not entirely covered by the NBN yet, so Catherine says make sure you check its availability and then weigh up different options if it is not yet connected.

Would you consider a wireless/ mobile broadband device, for instance, while waiting for the NBN to arrive next year? It can still be of use once the NBN is connected; you can take it with you on business or holiday trips and never lose connection to the internet.

2 Study nook, spare room, or converted garage?

A few years ago a home office often meant serious renovations ‒ converting a spare room or the garage, or even building a cabin in the backyard. These days the wonders of technology mean less space is needed as large computers and bulky drives no longer exist.

In most cases, a laptop or a desktop computer with a flat screen will suffice, and the trend is therefore now for study nooks.

“A study nook makes good use of space while not compromising on functionality.”

“Technological progress has been such that setting up a home office no longer requires a large amount of spare space”, notes Catherine. “Instead, people are now more interested in ‘study nooks’, which take up very little room and make good use of space.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Kobigha Mooithy from Ideal Office, based in Bella Vista. She says there is a growing trend for compact, custom-made desks, many of which are in the form of slim bench tops attached to the wall and only require one post: perfect for a dining room or living room corner.

3 Planning your home office – a key step

No matter the size or the shape of your home office, the first step towards designing a productive and inspiring work space is planning.

“When planning your home office, think about light and space around you.”

“First things first – measure your space, and have an idea of what you would like, and what you need. You can then draw up a floor plan from which we can work together,” says Kobigha.

A study nook, for instance, may be fine for some, but if you require silence to focus, you may need a more private space away from the hustle and bustle of the house.

When planning your home office, take into account, too, how much light you need, and how much space you enjoy having around you.

4 Work out what you need

Clutter and inefficient organisation or storage will immediately kill any of the productivity benefits gained from working from home. So start off by making a list of the materials and equipment you need in your home office, from printers to paper ‒ books, stationery and folders. This should include professional equipment, such as a scanner/photocopier.

Next, work out what sort of shelving and storage would be most suited to your needs, and your space. Corner desks that include shelving and drawers are an excellent use of space, as are wall cabinets mounted around your desk. The key is to be clever with your space, and design functional storage within it ‒ storage that is functional and will help keep you organised.

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5 Trend in desks

With back pain now an epidemic out of control, stand-up or standing desks have gained huge popularity over the last few years and are now a common feature in corporate offices.

While the key to avoiding back pain is actually to move around frequently, standing desks offer the advantage of allowing you to alternate between standing and sitting.

Kobigha Mooithy says electric stand-up desks are selling like hot cakes, as they adjust easily and quickly.

When choosing a standing desk, take into consideration the size of the desk, its height, how much weight it can carry, and the speed and ease at which it can be adjusted as well, of course, as aesthetical considerations.

6 Decorating your home office in The Hills

One of the many bonuses of running a business from your own home office has to be that you can decorate it as you please.

Indoor plants are currently an imperative when it comes to office and home décor, and the same interior design principles apply to your home office.

Plants come in all shapes and sizes so space is not an issue. As well as adding a fashionable touch to your home office, plants are known for their positive psychological effects, and help purify the air within your room.

Paintings as well as family portraits can liven up your space.

For energy, why not choose a funky colour theme for your office? Too much? Then opt for freshness with a white desk and shelves spiced up with a burst of colour in your office chair.

The key, however, is to keep décor simple and smart, and make sure it provides ongoing inspiration and motivation for your work.

What next for home offices?

As our population increases and roads and public transport groans under increasing pressure to perform for large numbers, working from home is bound to become more the norm rather than the exception. So there is no excuse not to set up an extremely stylish and functional home office, whether it’s a study nook, a dual-purpose room or a dedicated room. And who knows? You could be the next on Forbes list of home-made billionaires.

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Jane Booty, Tony Didd and team

Jane Booty, Tony Didd and team

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