Should You Add a Home Office in 2021?

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed almost every aspect of our lives. For Americans in the workforce, perhaps the biggest impact of COVID-19 has been how we earn a living. Those who had become accustomed to their morning commute and working a conventional nine-to-five schedule are still adjusting to the idea of staggering their shifts or working from home for the foreseeable future.

Despite the fact that 70% of all business partnerships fail, many organizations have been able to continue their operations by shifting to a remote work setup in order to get through these challenging times and keep employees safe. And while some businesses have reopened to varying degrees, others are allowing their staff to continue working from home until further notice. Whether you know you’ll be clocking in from the comfort of your home or you plan to sell your house during the ongoing pandemic, you may be wondering: is it worth it to add a home office?

After all, 61% of people who have lived in their first home for more than six years will choose to renovate rather than move. That’s not surprising, as 28% of property owners say renovating is a more affordable option than buying a turnkey property more aligned with their needs. So if you know that your need to work from home isn’t going anywhere — or you simply want to appeal to buyers who need to take remote work into account — you may be curious about whether adding a home office is the right decision for you. While this choice is completely personal, there may be some compelling reasons to consider this option.

For one thing, home offices really are in-demand. According to a recent Zillow study, around 75% of Americans were working from home during the pandemic, compared to a measly 7% before any of us had heard of COVID-19. And although there will come a time when it will be safe to return to work, that doesn’t mean remote work will fade from memory. This arrangement was already becoming more popular prior to this health crisis and, according to experts, the coronavirus merely sped up its widespread adoption. Now that it’s become clear that many businesses can operate with a remote workforce without sacrificing quality or even culture, it’s likely that both employers and employees will want to continue with this kind of arrangement. It creates better balance and flexibility for workers while saving money for business owners, so it makes a lot of sense that companies that are in a position to make remote work a long-term solution are likely to do so.

Another important point is that home offices do come with a decent return on investment. According to a HomeLight survey conducted in Q2 of 2020, home offices provide an 87% ROI. Although a complete renovation or addition that includes a home office could set you back several thousand dollars, depending on the scope, it may be worth it if you plan to sell in the near future.

Of course, the payoff is clear if you plan to stay, as well. Not only will you be able to take advantage of a dedicated office space for privacy and productivity, but you might even be able to seek reimbursement from your employer for certain home office expenses like hardware. And if you have made the switch from employee to independent contractor or self-employed business owner as a result of the pandemic, you might be able to take advantage of certain tax deductions if you have a separate home office. And if you know your family will be able to benefit from the space later on, even if you return to conventional office life, this is definitely a project that’s worth exploring.

Adding a home office may not be a wise decision for every homeowner; if you’re an essential worker or you live in an area that wouldn’t be able to offer a substantial return on investment upon selling, you might want to prioritize other possible home improvements. But for those who plan on working from home for at least the next year or who want to appeal to remote workers in the market for a house, it might be a wise decision.

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