For some, the coronavirus pandemic has changed what it means to go to work.
Working from home became the new norm as stay home orders sprouted across the nation in 2020, sending demand for home offices and office furniture skyrocketing.
A May survey by online real estate company Zillow, found that most respondents were indeed working from home, but in a space that wasn’t a dedicated home office.
Most said they would consider moving if work-from-home directives persisted — and many put a home office at the top of their wishlist, Zillow said.
Home offices are expected to remain highly sought after in 2021, and sellers are trying to entice buyers with dedicated work space in listings.
Home listings featuring the term “home office” were up nearly 50% in November compared to the year before, along with the term “Zoom room,” Zillow said.
What’s a Zoom room?
The pandemic byproduct gets its name from video conferencing app Zoom and is a space — often “with a nice backdrop” — where someone working from home can attend video calls without distractions, Paces Funding reported.
Zoom rooms are sometimes well-appointed home offices or a specially designated corner of another room.
They’ve become worthy of note in home listings.
The blurb for a home listing in the San Francisco area in July showcased “a decorative wall in the home that provides a nice backdrop for Zoom calls” and another in the area boasted an “impressive Zoom room” before mentioning the property’s hot tub and wine cellar, according to SFGate.
Another pitched a third bedroom as “perfect for a private home office, Zoom room or au-pair suite,” according to the outlet.
A good chunk of the Zoom room’s appeal is its privacy, Patrice Groleau, owner of real-estate agency McGill Immobilier, told the Montreal Gazette in June.
“People will definitely be looking for a work-from-home zone and a place where they can use the camera on their laptop or phone for their Zoom meetings,” he told the newspaper. “People want to make sure that the camera doesn’t point right into the living room or kitchen where the kids are playing. So you need a place to do your video conferences that is an intimate space but doesn’t show your whole home.”
The move to work from home revived the story of Robert Kelley, since dubbed “BBC Dad,” whose children toddled on camera while he was giving a BBC interview from home in 2017. A Zoom room may have prevented the viral moment altogether.
“If you’re going to work from home, especially if you have kids, you’re going to need that extra space,” Joe Brimo, a broker with Re/Max Action Westmount, told the Montreal Gazette. “You’ve got a lot of stuff. You’ve got your paperwork. You’ve got your printers.”
What makes a good Zoom room?
Interior designers Kiera Kushlan and Jessica Centella said they began getting calls from clients at the onset of the pandemic asking for tips to make their work spaces look better on camera, the Washingtonian reported.
The requests were so frequent that the pair — who founded Washington D.C. interior design firm Residents Understood — launched a whole new virtual design package.
For $350, they’ll assess your home on a video call and make recommendations for how to improve the space’s digital appearance, according to the newspaper. For a cool $1,500, you’ll get a detailed design plan complete with a Pinterest board curated to your tastes.
Not in your budget? No problem — Kushlan and Cantella have some tips: arrange your setup near a window to capitalize on natural lighting, declutter the on-camera space and use rugs, pillows and window treatments to help keep background noise to a minimum. You can also try painting a wall or putting up some interesting wallpaper or artwork as a backdrop, the Washingtonian reported.
If you don’t have an extra room at your disposal, trying cordoning off a corner of your home with an accordion room divider, the Motley Fool suggested.