Industry Insights

How Builders Can Differentiate the Home Office

A home office is illuminated with natural light from a multi-slide glass door.

If handed a palette from which to paint her ideal work-at-home space, Urban Gardens editor-in-chief Robin Plaskoff Horton wrote she would “paint a scenario where I could be both inside and outside at the same time… fresh air, sunlight, and plant life are all basic elements of human happiness and health. I want my workspace to reflect that.”

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), one in five Americans now work from home – and the majority want a home office. Many production builders are meeting this demand by incorporating dedicated office space in their model homes. One way to go beyond the garden-variety home office is with glass door systems that provide the sunlight, fresh air, and access to the outdoors homebuyers desire.

NAHB’s most recent consumer study, What Home Buyers Really Want, was conducted in 2018 – before coronavirus caused a huge uptick in people working from home (more than 50 percent of Americans, according to Global Workplace Analytics). Even pre-pandemic, demand for home offices was high; according to the NAHB study, 65 percent of respondents said they wanted a home office.

A recent survey by online real estate database company Zillow found that a third of respondents reported working in a home office, with the remaining respondents repurposing another area of their home as a workspace. Thirty-one percent said they would consider moving if given the option to live in a home with a dedicated office space, and 27 percent said they wanted to live in a home with more outdoor space.

John Egnatis, CEO of Dallas, Texas-based homebuilder Grenadier Homes, says all the company’s current floor plans have office space: “We evolved that due to buyer feedback.”

Other builders in various regions of the country, including national company Toll Brothers, Pyatt Builders (Indiana), Lexington Homes (south and central U.S.), Berks Homes (Pennsylvania), Steinberg Hart (California), and Hartz Homes (Illinois) report requests for home office spaces and are meeting that demand by including home office space in some of their floor plans.

But not all home office spaces are created equal. When it comes to the qualities of a great home workspace, some are more important than others, some builders and experts say. The ideal space is separate from the rest of the house and insulated from distractions, with natural light and great ventilation. Texas-based builder Highland Homes recently had a hit with their Instagram photo of “a home office built for productivity: beautiful built-ins, plenty of natural light, and ample amounts of space!”

Zillow design expert Kerrie Kelly prioritizes natural light and ventilation when considering a home office space.

One solution for incorporating and differentiating home offices in production builds is to utilize glass door systems that stack and slide into pockets for extra-wide openings that eliminate the barriers between the indoors and outside. Glass door systems also facilitate flooding the room with natural daylight and fresh air, while providing access to the outdoors and views that can inspire productivity.

With an indoor-outdoor home office experience, Plaskoff Horton wrote, “the backyard is transformed into a seamless part of the work-from-home experience, an integral element within the landscape, and literally, a breath of fresh air.”