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Increasing numbers of Canadians are working from home these days either full-time or some of the time and that's fuelling the growth of office space in residences.

Canadians are turning more and more to contractors, home builders and designers to set them up with their dream home office – a place where they can do their business but at the same time enjoy the comforts of working from their abodes.

Amanda Hamilton, an award-winning interior designer in Calgary, says many of her clients are transitioning into more flexible work days so they do have a need for a home office.

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"You need to have the ability to sort of shut out what's going on around you so whether or not that's kids at home or other distractions that are happening around the house," Ms. Hamilton says.

"A lot of these offices in homes will have an open door. A lot of our clients will put a barn door or a nice secure door for privacy and sound protection. The whole idea of working from home allows you to have that residential feeling. So, there's nothing to say that all of a sudden, when you walk into the office, it should feel like a commercial downtown office," she says. "I get the sense that for most people, it's a lot nicer to work in softer light. It's not about overlighting the space. It's about providing different levels of lighting."

According to Statistics Canada, the number of employees working at home in 2008 was 1,748,600, compared with 1,425,700 in 2000. In 2008, 11.2 per cent of employees worked at home, one percentage point more than in 2000.

For the self-employed, their participation rate climbed from 54 per cent to 60 per cent between 2006 and 2008 as 1,842,000 self-employed people worked at home in 2008.

The overall proportion of people working at home was 19 per cent in 2008.

When people think about working from home, what's not taken into account is individuals who work in an office environment all day but then also take their work home – working either early in the morning prior to heading into the office or late at night when they are at home.

Remo Niceforo, president of Stonebrook Developments, which is building the six-storey, 127-unit luxury condo Monaco in Collingwood, Ont., says even in condos people are looking at setting up home offices.

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"Each one of our suites has an area for a home office even from the smallest suites (645 square feet) to the largest units (2,500 square feet) – an area for a desk and a chair to full dens," Mr. Niceforo says.

"I think it's tremendously important. No matter what stage people are at, there's a requirement to do some type of work in some capacity, maybe it's [just for] part-time hours, but there's definitely a need."

Ms. Hamilton says if someone is trying to manage family activities, having a workspace that is either in the heart of the home or accessible can be really helpful – even if it does provide some distractions.

"The biggest challenge for main-floor offices is that people are messy, " she says "The office is often right at the front of the house so the first thing that guests see or that you see when you come home is a messy office off to the left or the right, which is often the reason we put doors on these rooms," Ms. Hamilton adds.

Sometimes people will set up an office in a spare bedroom, but Ms. Hamilton says most office spaces are set up on the main floor of a house, the back of a house or in the basement.

Pedro Ocana Muller, president of Sunset Homes in Calgary, says the homebuilder has seen more people requesting an office space built into their new homes.

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"Over the last five to six years we have more people with work schedules that are open and flexible," Mr. Ocana Muller says. "Their offices are on the main floor, where there is good sound insulation between the ceiling and the second floor and the living-room walls. There is also a lot of light which can be controlled through window coverings.

"Most of the home offices we've been building for the last five or six years are in the front of the house. About 20 per cent are in the back."

Sunset Homes has built office space comprised of simply a desk with a desk with some bookshelves to more elaborate spaces with a wet bar, a sink, a fridge and a television on the wall. Some offices have a built-in coffee station as well.

Some of the current trends, she says, involve changes in how people engage with technology. The need for storage space has been diminished and many of her clients have switched to using two computer screens instead of one so they need a larger desk.

According to the Sunset Homes website, the location of your ideal home office should be somewhere that is accessible, private, peaceful and secure.

"Also, to ensure your comfort and to maximize the functionality of the room, several conditions must be ideal, such as humidity, space, free flow of air and temperature. It is important to set both mental and physical boundaries for your home office to allow you to function optimally," says the home builder on its website, adding that the office space is a place where you should be relaxed and motivated to work, and preferably a place with an inspiring view.

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The builder says lighting plays a significant role in ensuring the office space is comfortable and inspiring, adding that an excellent combination for a home office is wood and white.

"When setting up your dream home office, you need furniture and equipment suitable for it. Our main suggestion is not sacrificing form for function. Obtain furniture and equipment that would be both functional and beautiful, and when setting up the home office ensure that your furniture and equipment are accessible to create workflow," Sunset Homes says.


This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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