Work from Home

Since March of 2020, the need to have a space to work from home became a necessity for most people.  Since we couldn’t really go anywhere, do anything, see other people face to face, we needed to find a way to have a comfortable and calm work environment at home.  Now that a lot of the restrictions in the US have been relaxed considerably, people find themselves wanting to stay home and work.  They have found that the time commuting they could be more productive, especially those with school aged children.  The time that would have been spent dropping off at school or a bus stop and then commuting themselves, they’ve gained several precious hours or productivity.    

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 36% of middle-market companies reported having remote employees in the fourth quarter of 2021 who weren’t remote pre-COVID-19.  Nearly half polled now that they’re providing permanent full-time remote options.  People have been quotes as saying that if they could no longer work from home, they would rather quit their job and find a position where they could work from home.  This does back to a trend I am remember learning about decades ago in 1981 called from Faith Popcorn called “cocooning”.  This at the time coincided with the birth of the internet, which allowed people to search for and book in-home services.  It launched the career of Martha Stewart who was dubbed the “queen of cocooning”, her extraordinary success helped women particularly who were working from home.  The pandemic I feel brought a different dimension to that phenomenon by creating the work from home era.

I personally experienced the transition when I lost my full-time job during the shut-down and needed to rethink what I could be doing.  That is when I got back into the field that I love, Interior Design.  I am one of those people who has their office in a common area – my Living Room.  My view is looking out into my backyard, and the kitchen, but before that, I was facing a wall looking into a closet in an upstairs bedroom.  The backyard is much nicer to look at.

I am going to give some tips and tricks as well as advice from my fellow Finish designers over the course of this series as to what you can do to make working at home a space that is functional, calm and a place you want to spend a majority of your day.

Location, Location, Location!

The same adage holds true for the home office as it does for a home – location, location, location.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a room with a door that can be a dedicated office, do not worry. As you can see from the photos above, people are highly adaptive, putting office spaces under loft beds, under a flight of stairs, in a closet.  They have converted unused corners into built in units in their kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and basements, where they can, at the end of the day, fold up a desk, and close the doors. This is particularly important if you live in an urban area where the overall space is small

Important things to think about when considering a space for your home office: Privacy: This is important for several obvious reasons: concentration and the ability to focus without your children running around you are laughing and playing or your dog or cat wanting your attention.  But there is another reason: the lack of privacy can hinder a working person’s sense of autonomy, giving them less control, and therefore causing their work to suffer. 

If you cannot get a totally private place, there are creative ways to make that happen.  You can put up a privacy screen: I had a client who worked from home in her master bedroom.  The fundamental problem was the separation of work and sleep.  I designed a space where her office was separated from her sleeping area with a privacy screen.

Shelving is another great way to separate your workspace from other adjoining spaces and gives you privacy too.  The last one really qualifies as privacy and the home office!

 I personally feel that the more natural light you can get from a window, even if you are facing away from it, is important.  I always make sure I have a window to look out, even if it is behind me or next to me. 

One of the most important things necessary to have a totally functioning working space in your home is OUTLETS!  Can’t have the laptop, desktop, phone, or monitor set up without a place to plug them in, so please look for a space that has at least one, power strips are very handy! (You can’t see them in the photo above, but I actually have two outlets!)