The Covid-19 Office

The COVID-19 Office Journey – Part 1


The COVID-19 Office Journey - Part 1

As we look at how to repurpose our home space for work, this is creating opportunities for residential integrators.

By Bill Hensley

Think Sustainability

IT DOMINATES THE NEW SAN FRANCISCO SKYLINE, a bit like Salesforce dominates the CRM market. But anticipating the lasting effect of COVID-19, Salesforce executives recently announced plans for most of its 54,000 employees to work remotely. Salesforce Chief People Officer Brent Hyder said the change would revamp the office spaces from a “sea of desks” to collaboration spaces, saying to the Wall Street Journal, “we’re not going back to the way things were.”

Salesforce is probably not alone in this direction and the cubicle-to-collaboration initiatives create opportunity for integrators doing commercial or resimercial work. And while Salesforce is navigating the sea of cubicles, those of us still working at home are navigating Zoom meetings, Teams chats and endless conference calls that used to be the in-person meeting down the hall. As we look at how to repurpose our home space for work, this is creating opportunities for residential integrators.

The Solar Office desktop

My current office is the standing desk in the corner of the bedroom (the solar powered office you may recall). When the weather permits, an important break from the standing is a ten-minute walk up the block and back. Recently I noticed one of my neighbors up the street had embarked on the same project I started last month – the COVD-19 Office. Like me, he is framing out a room in his garage. But unlike mine, his will be temporary with the space one day returning to garage duties.

do it right

My wife and I agreed that if we were to do this then we’d do it right, with plans reviewed by the city, and of course with inspections and approvals. The logical office location is a rather dark corner of the garage at the foot of the stairs leading up to the living room and kitchen level. We’re blessed with a large garage including two south-facing windows that get good light. To leverage this light, our plan added two windows and a windowed door to the wall that defines the new office space to bring in as much ambient light as possible. Still, we’ll be adding a ceiling light in the future desk area. Other electrical will be a couple of receptacles on the new wall and a clean-up of the mess than has been wired into this 70-year-old garage.

The city building department is in full COVID-19 mode. They allow scheduling Zoom calls with members of the building department team. This was a well-spent 15 minutes in which I was able to screen-share my plans and get useful feedback. The final plan was submitted online and approval came back in two days. Meanwhile the lumber and sheetrock were delivered, and we were ready to go.


The framing passed inspection, and we should wrap up the electrical work next week. For AV we’re installing a Niles system that’s been in a box in the corner since the Core Brands engineering department did one of its frequent house cleanings. It will be used mainly for the Zoom and Teams call audio. Electronics will plug into a couple of Furman SS-6B’s and category cable will drop into the space from the media room above to keep the space wired to the outside world. Insulation will be important, as much for sound isolation as for temperature control. After all, one of the goals in this project is for my wife to not have to listen to every conference call I’m on.

Will report back on progress. Stay tuned.