It’s wonderful when you can spare a room for your home office, but it might have a secondary function a few times a year. It’s a guest room as well. Your private workspace becomes a place for your guests to sleep. You’re out of your perfectly set up workspace. What can you do when your home office is the guest room?
There are a lot of things you can do when your home office is the guest room to ensure that the space is comfortable for both uses. Some relate to how you use the space when guests are there, while others are all about the setup of the room in general. Make sure your home office setup allows you to be productive and comfortable.
Consider what will happen to your home office when guests are there. Are you moving out or sharing the space? This will help you figure out how best to set up and organize your home office.
Have Guest-Friendly Furniture
You want your guests to feel comfortable when they stay with you, and that means putting some thought into your guest furniture. How do you combine that with the needs of your home office?
You have a few options.
I chose to put a queen size futon in my home office. This way we have both seating and a bed as needed for guests. It doesn’t take a lot of space and is comfortable enough. I’ve slept there when my husband has been sick enough that I wanted to avoid the germs. I store bedding beneath it.
A daybed is another alternative. The disadvantage is that it’s more narrow, which may be uncomfortable for most adults, and won’t work at all for couples.
A Murphy bed is a more expensive option but puts the bed even more out of the way. That can be a huge advantage. The disadvantage is that you have to remember how much space it takes when setting up all the rest of the furniture unless you want to move things around every time the bed is used.
Keep Your Home Office Organized
You don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning before company arrives when your home office is the guest room. This makes keeping your home office organized very important.
Let’s start with the paper shredder. Have an easy way to get rid of that paper clutter before it gets bad. You know it will. An easily accessible shredder improves the chances that you will stay ahead of the mess.
Figure out what kind of organization system will work for you. My home office has a lot of built-in drawers and cabinets, and I take advantage of those quite extensively. If you don’t have this kind of advantage, there are a lot of organization supplies you can buy which will help you keep the clutter under control.
Try to keep your cables organized where possible. Securing them to the underside or back of your desk will give your home office a cleaner look when guests are over. It also keeps them out of your way.
Your organization supplies can be used to give your home office character as well. A cork board can be used to keep up important reminders and to display family photos or artwork.
A rolling cart to hold your supplies can be a big help if you want to get a lot of your office supplies out of the room when guests are over. The more mobile your supplies are, the less effort it will take to move them when company comes over.
You may also want a rolling desk for when your home office is the guest room. This can be the most effective way to move your computer set up with the least fuss.
Whatever you do, make sure your home office is comfortable for you. That’s the first purpose of the room, after all. If it doesn’t work for you, figure out how to make things better.
Consider Taking Time Off When Guests Arrive
When you have company, it may already be your plan to take the time off or at least work fewer hours. If your work is flexible enough and you can afford the financial hit or have paid vacation time, this may be your choice.
Taking time off won’t work for everyone. No one expects to always have the day off when company comes over when you work outside the home, so don’t assume you have to do so when you work at home. It’s nice when you can afford it and it fits into your work schedule, but it’s not always possible.
Explain To Guests That You Will Need The Room During Work Hours
Sometimes you may need to keep using your home office as an office even when you have company. This is something you should discuss with guests before they arrive so that they understand that you will need to use their room during the day.
Obviously, you cannot use your home office while your guests are sleeping. This won’t work if you work at night.
But if your work hours are during the day, you may be able to continue working as usual. Explain to your guests that they need to treat you as though you are away at work even though you’re just a room away. It’s what you’d have to do if you had a job outside the home, after all.
Show them the space that you will need to have left alone so that you can work. You don’t want their luggage on your desk or office chair, for example, when you want to start working. Point out things that should not be disturbed.
It may help to have a dresser or other furniture in your home office that is specifically for guests to use. Some space in the closet may help as well. Guests are more likely to respect your space if they have a spot that is clearly for their use.
Set Up A Temporary Office Elsewhere
If your work setup is something you can move, you can work in a different space. This will probably be one of those less than ideal places such as your bedroom. This may be your only choice if you need to work night hours or otherwise cannot use your office space due to your guests.
Just as with your regular home office, do your best to make it a distraction-free environment. The kitchen table isn’t ideal for this reason. You don’t want to be in the middle of everything that’s happening in your home while you have company; you want to be a little away from it so you can be productive.
A rolling desk can be a huge help if you have to move your home office space around. Not only can it be put into a corner of your office when more space is needed, but you can also move it into another room with relative ease.
Be Ready For Challenges
Whatever your solution may be, discuss it with your guests before they arrive so that they’re prepared to deal with the reality of you working at home. Many people have trouble understanding that working at home is just like working any other job. Make sure they know that they need to let you work.
If guests need a lot of reminders, try to have another family member help keep them away as you work. You do not want to get in trouble with your job if you can’t keep a quiet work environment due to guests. If that’s a need, be very clear about why you need quiet and why there are no exceptions, not even to tell you they’re headed out to do something for the day.
Of course, if you can be interrupted, tell them that too, and tell them how much or when. Let them know if too many interruptions will lengthen your work day or give you other problems.
Hopefully, you will have enough time off work that you can enjoy your guests. Make sure your needs and their expectations are discussed in advance so that you don’t have a lot of problems when your guests are in your home.