Back in 2002, Carnegie Mellon University couple Susan Gregg and Eric Koger founded ModCloth in their cramped dorm room. Their e-commerce business grew a lot from being a college dorm business. Now, they have over 350 employees stationed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
It wasn’t easy for them to grow and keep ModCloth in the business scene but, no matter the challenges they face in the business, the happily married couple make significant decisions for the company together as a team.
It’s nice to hear a success (and love) stories that are similar to Susan and Eric’s. When your home business partner is also your partner in life, you’re most likely going to share the same workspace at home. It’s an exciting experience! First, you won’t feel isolated even if you work overtime. Then, you’ll realize that it opens a better opportunity to collaborate with your partner, to help each other out when one needs support, and to laugh together once in a while to ease the stress.
However, there are some possible pitfalls of working together if the one you’ll share an office space with has a work style and comfort requirements that don’t meet yours. You might repel each other out, instead of helping the other person.
To avoid those instances, we at Superdraft Australia prepared this guide to help you build a home office space for couples, or for anyone who shares their home office with a friend or a family member:
Talking to your partner about the plan
The first step is to talk to your partner about the idea of sharing a home office space. Both of you have different needs at work and you need those details in the design process. Hearing each other’s voices out ensures that space is really designed for two people, regardless if they’ll work independently or collaboratively.
Arranging the desk depending on how you work
It’s important to create harmony between the two people who share the office. By that, I don’t mean creating matchy-matchy interiors. It’s cute, but don’t compromise comfort and efficiency over looks. You have to ensure that you and your partner are comfortable in your respective desks. Its style must depend on how you interact with each other.
If your jobs don’t require a lot of interaction, parallel desks might suit you. It’s best for people who are easily distracted by the movement of the other person because you face away from them. Make sure that you leave at least 36 inches of space in between your chairs to avoid bumping into each other even with the slightest movement.
An L-shaped desk or a corner desk also works for people who need certain space while working. Unlike parallel desks, this doesn’t need a huge space at home. Station your desk in a corner where you can fit a 29.02″ x 61.38″ x 61.38″ (HxWxD) desk. As you’ve noticed, the table needs to be long enough that you don’t hit the other person whenever you get up from your desk.
If you have a more collaborative work style, then working faced with each other will not be a problem.
Facing each other across a large desk would be a good arrangement for two people who spend most of their time interacting with each other. It can also be a nice arrangement if the two people just particularly enjoy each other’s company and are not easily distracted. This would also work better for two people who are not on the telephone much. It would be very uncomfortable for two people on phone conversations at the same time.
Finally, when you admire each other’s company but still like to work independently, you might want to work next to each other.
Station an extra long table against a wall or a window. This is great if the two of you have a lot of brainstorming sessions. Unlike when you are face to face with your partner, this enables you to think independently without staring at the other person.
The challenge with this layout is organization. Always keep your side of the table clean. Remember that your work areas have no divisions and your clutter can crawl to the other person’s space.
Establishing a shared storage storage
As workplace designers, our golden rule in shared office storage is full accessibility. If both of you can access the storage without disturbing each other, then it’s all good.
The bookshelf on one side of the room where both can easily reach everything works well in shared storage. Drawers and cubbies on the side of the desks or in between the two of you are also accessible by either person without disrupting the other.
In the event that you work collaboratively, make sure that you have a space for your own stuff. Don’t annoy the other person with favours like passing something or getting an item from the shelf near them.
In addition, you can label your storage so you avoid asking your partner where a particular item is. This also requires self-discipline—you must return the item from where you got it.
Providing the kind of light that you and your partner needs
There is no doubt about the importance of natural lighting in your workspace. Exposure to natural light can improve your work performance. Natural light can normalize our body’s natural circadian rhythms—the 24-hour cycle of all biological, mental and behavioural changes in the body. If we don’t get the right dose of it, we might disrupt our sleep cycle, resulting to lethargy, and depression. So, place your home office in a well-lit part of the house.
In the event that your partner doesn’t like a lot of sunlight in their work area, install adjustable window treatments. If the sun shines bright, they can use the curtains or blinds to block the sun. You can also add a layer of window film which blocks the intense sunlight that causes glare. Better if you can give them a spot that’s not directly hit by sunlight.
Finally, provide task lighting. Task lights illuminate a specific area to make it easier for you to see and accomplish a task. Lamps that have adjustable necks and built-in dimmers.
Taking note of your partner’s ideal chair
According to Spine-Health, a non-ergonomic office chair stresses the spine, resulting in compound back problems. You work for eight hours a day—give you and your partner a chair that supports your lower back and promotes good posture.
First, the height of the chair must be adjustable and range from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor. This allows the users to rest their feet flat on the floor, thighs parallel to the ground, and arms even with the height of the desk.
The seat should be wide enough to support your body. You must be able to sit with your back against the backrest of the chair. Make sure that the backrest is flexible and is specially designed for the lumbar region. It should preserve the lumbar spine’s natural curve. If not, you will slouch and hurt your back. For added support, use a lumbar pillow.
Finally, it should have enough padding so it’s comfortable to sit in for longer periods of time. The material should be breathable to avoid irritation from sweat. It’s up to you if you want a swivel chair for mobility or the conventional chair for stability. When shopping for your office chair from a furniture store, examine every part of it. Sit on it just to test how comfy it is before buying it.
Creating a home office for two is a daunting task from creation to maintenance but as long as everyone knows how to show respect to your partner’s work style, you’ll work harmoniously together.
Start with simple gestures like answering a phone call in another room to avoid disturbing the other person’s workflow. If you’re watching a video or listening to audio, wear headphones. Most importantly, find time to have coffee or lunch together. Sharing a home office space is a fun experience when you’re disciplined and determined to support each other’s work goals while taking care of a healthy relationship.