Posted on October 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM
The term man cave has become an entire interior design category, and as the concept developed, women claimed subterranean spaces as their own and called them, woman caves. Typically, the additional living space served as a place to have a workshop, relax, and hang out with friends.
Start-ups and the gig economy.
Work-from-home days used to be a luxury for employees, but now many global companies rely on remote workforces to strategically run their businesses. The rapid advancement of technology has also heated up the start-up culture, and like the good old days of tech, one-day global giants can still germinate and grow out of a garage or basement.
Whether you’re joining a team or forming one, it may be up to you to provide your own office space. Unless you live alone, privacy is hard to come by, and you may consider remodeling your basement into the office of your dreams.
The logical interior design term for such a space is work cave. However, with today’s available HVAC technology, no one has to tolerate cave-like conditions in underground living space. A finished basement office should not have a mildew smell, it should not incite employees’ allergies, and it should not present health hazards. You, and possibly your employees, are going to be in that environment for 40+ hours a week. Let’s make it a pleasant place to be.
Adequate light and climate control are the two most important design features to consider when transforming a dark, dank environment into a space where you feel good—body and mind. This article looks at optimizing the indoor climate and air quality.
Like any business project, you want to go into a remodel with a solid plan and plenty of data. First, do your research. If your current heating and cooling system can handle it, you may be able to simply expand your ductwork into the remodeled basement office. Determining this accurately requires a professional assessment by a certified and insured heating and cooling system installer.
Business Insight: Choose three HVAC service providers to get quotes from. The heating and cooling professionals who give you the estimates can also share helpful guidance on the entire project, including the capacity of your furnace, where any added ductwork should be run, and a complete list of alternative options.
The two main challenges to creating the optimal workspace in the basement are dampness and ventilation—both contribute to the production of mold and mold spores. That basement smell we’re all familiar with is greatly caused by mold.
A dehumidifier can help control the dampness, but it’s not going to eliminate 100% of the moisture that can hide in the washing machine, carpet, gym equipment, and storage areas. Controlling the temperature of the room is the second half to the mold solution. The practical question to answer is: Will my basement stay at an optimal temperature if it runs off a single thermostat located upstairs?
Business Insight: This is another aspect of the project where a factory-certified technician can guide you while calculating installation estimates. If you know you’re going to do the remodel yourself, even better because you can fully discuss the details of the finished area. Building materials, layout, and additional utility room space (if you’re adding on or expanding your system), all impact heat loss and airflow, which factors into your customized solution.
Ductless mini-split system.
Top-rated ductless splits are affordable and energy-efficient, as well as a snap to install. The thermostat is on the air handler, which gives you room-specific climate control, and as the name says, you don’t have to put in any ductwork. A ductless system:
Indoor air quality
Even the best air quality equipment is not 100% effective. Eventually, dust and dirt particles floating in the air will find a moist spot and settle in to produce mold. It can happen anywhere in a typical home.
Basements are not your typical living space, however, and can be a hazard to your health if the air quality is not managed. A remodeled basement office can look like the C-suite and still have up to 10x the pollution of its top-floor counterparts.
The air handlers are so user friendly, anyone can learn to clean the filters once a month for optimal performance. Check with your authorized dealer for add-on filters, such as anti-allergy and deodorizing models. For a small price, you can clean the air of disease-causing viruses and bacteria, allergens and dust, and harmful VOCs, pollutants, and odors.
A study by Harvard University* found improving air quality in an office can improve cognitive performance among employees. The researchers concluded breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance among participants [in the study], as well as higher test scores across nine cognitive function domains and improved strategic decision making under normal and crisis conditions.
Simple to budget.
When you’re self-employed or leading a startup, you get really proficient at budgeting. Most decisions come down to: how much does it cost? Ductless mini-splits get high ratings for cost effectiveness of installation through cost of operation.
The average cost to install a ductless mini-split system ranges from $1,900 to $4,000 (to service 1,800 square feet of space), according to HomeAdvisor, an online provider of tools and resources to homeowners.
That’s a big investment for a small- to medium-sized business. Yes, investment—not expenditure—and smart money knows an investment comes with a payout. To get real numbers for your particular situation, get those three professional estimates to gauge fair market value for your area. Always ask about available rebates and incentives.
Business Insight: There’s always rebates and incentives available, and they change all the time. After looking into the cost-saving programs recommended by the qualified HVAC technicians who quoted you, do your own research in see what your state and HVAC equipment manufacturers are offering at the time.
That Harvard study mentioned earlier went on to estimate that a business stands to gain a $6,500 increase in productivity benefits per person annually simply by doubling ventilation rates. This number does not reflect such potential benefits as reduced sick absenteeism.
So, let’s look at it here. The average employee takes between 3 to 5 sick days per year, according to Moorepay, a leading payroll and HR solutions provider. This rate of absenteeism costs the average business more than $676 per employee each year.
It’s easy to see with a little legwork and thriftiness, you can afford to invest in the future performance and well-being of everyone working in your remodeled basement office.
* Allen, J. G. (2017) “Research: Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive,” Harvard Business Review, March 2017
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