Trying to decide whether your home office should be upstairs or downstairs?
You’re not alone.
There are pros and cons to each.
And there’s a ton of factors to take into consideration such as the layout of your home, how many people live there, etc.
So let’s look at how we can help you make the best choice for you.
P.S. For the purpose of this article we’re going to assume that you live in a two-storey home.
Considerations for the location of your home office
Does your work require a reasonably high level of privacy for the likes of video calls or just because you’re working on sensitive material that might include personally identifiable information (PIP)?
In that case, privacy will be absolutely essential.
An upstairs home office gives you more of this because it’s generally separate from the rooms in your house that receive a lot of foot traffic such as your TV room, kitchen, etc.
But you can also create a secure downstairs office if:
- You can dedicate an entire room to that
- You’re willing to install a lock and key that only you have access to
Less noise means fewer distractions for you.
An upstairs home office can provide a much quieter working environment for you it will be down to how much ambient noise exists outside your home.
For example, if you’re living near a noisy street, then an upstairs home office will suffer from the same noise pollution as a downstairs office.
Depending on your home’s layout, a downstairs office could be preferable if isolated from noisy areas i.e. it’s the furthest from the street.
You might also need to try to factor in the things you could never imagine happening.
In my case that involved a neighbor who would crawl up into their attic and then bang a tin can against my office attic wall, while also screaming at me to stay quiet.
She did that because I was playing music while I worked. Music it was literally impossible to hear..except when she crawled up into her attic.
Having as much natural light coming into your home office will make your working life a lot easier.
It boosts your mood, saves you from eyestrain, and even serves to make you more alert.
So have a think about which of your potential office locations receive the most natural sunlight before you make your final decision.
You’re going to need Internet access for pretty much any job I can think of.
So do your due diligence here and test how strong the Wi-Fi signal is your future home office.
And if it’s not strong enough, are there enough sockets there to use a powerline extender in addition to anything else that will need power in the room?
If you can’t use a powerline extender then you might need to look at how you’ll route an Ethernet cable from the router to your office.
Does your business involve client visits?
If so, you’ll probably need a separate entrance for your home office because otherwise, it means bringing people through your home.
Having frequent client visits would also mean that a downstairs office is a better option.
Advantages of a Downstairs Home Office
Easy to access
A downstairs home office makes is easier to access if you have mobility issues, or if you’ll have to deal with regular client visits.
You won’t need to climb stairs or navigate through multiple rooms, making it convenient for both you and your visitors.
Potential for larger office spaces
The downstairs rooms in any home are typically physically larger than bedrooms or other second-story rooms.
So, if you want a bigger office then placing it downstairs makes more sense.
Advantages of an Upstairs Home Office
An upstairs office will be as far removed from family life as possible in any home.
That means more peace and quiet for working, and reduced interruptions and distractions.
An upstairs office also means you’ll have an easier time maintaining a work-life balance because your office is separate from your living/family spaces.
Less noise pollution
All of those household noises will be reduced.
Kids playing games, the TV, kitchen activity, friends visiting, etc. will all be that bit more muted if you’re working upstairs.
Disadvantages of a downstairs office
Lack of Privacy
A downstairs home office is a challenge at times when you need or want privacy.
Family members and visitors might be more inclined to interrupt your work because you’re within easy reach.
These frequent interruptions can and will have a significant negative impact on your productivity. To the point where it becomes impossible to work.
You can try establishing boundaries, but kids, careless adults, and pets tend to ignore them.
And that’s why I only ever have an upstairs home office now.
Since the ground floor of your home is usually closer to shared spaces like the living room, kitchen, and front door, noise levels will be considerably higher than in an upstairs office.
Background noise is inevitable, but you might have to consider soundproofing options, like adding rugs and curtains if the noise levels get in the way of your work.
Downsides of Upstairs Home Office
Potentially Smaller Space
Upstairs rooms are often smaller than downstairs rooms, as they are usually designed as bedrooms or guest rooms.
So that means your office is probably going to be smaller than if it was downstairs.
But this is only an issue if you need a huge office.
Working upstairs and away from your family can lead to a sense of isolation.
This can be made far worse because you’ll tend to work longer hours if there’s not a visual (kids/pets) or mental cue to make you wrap up your work for the day.
Believe me, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in a work project and then realize – with absolute horror – that it’s now 8:30 pm and your dinner went cold two hours ago.
And the dog hasn’t been walked.
And your partner is seriously p*ssed off at you for being stuck in your office since 9 am.
I’ve had offices in both locations – upstairs and downstairs.
My current home office layout is using a small upstairs room (we call them box rooms) even though there’s at least one large room downstairs that I could use instead.
Why do I prefer the smaller upstairs home office?
The main factors are privacy, less noise pollution, and far fewer interruptions.
We get a lot of visits from family and friends, for example. A downstairs office means family members just walking in for a chat.
But they never do that when I’m working upstairs, even if they come upstairs to use the bathroom.
Also, the view from my downstairs office is the street outside our home. It’s not particularly pretty.
The view from my upstairs office includes parts of a local nature park and a nearby farm and fields.
So the upstairs view is just better for my soul and my sanity.