Entrepreneurs. Telecommuters. Freelancers. Remote workers. The official title may vary, but the result is the same: a person looking for a home office setup that not only accommodates their work needs but fits in the flow of their home. With the rising number of individuals bringing their work home (both full and part time), home furnishing companies are seeing an increase in the demands for furnishings that are both functional and appealing. For those setting up a home office or revamping a current workspace, these are the newest trends for work-at-home spaces.
Home offices are quickly becoming one of the most important commodities in living spaces. With the number of at-home employees exceeding 3 million, home-based workspaces are essential, and a top priority is a space that transitions easily from work to home use but can still maintain a boundary for work purposes.
Today’s designers are handling this challenge in creative ways. Fashioning ‘command centers’ in key home areas allows parents to be accessible to their children while still having essential work equipment at hand. Located in dining rooms, family rooms, or basement rec rooms, the command center approach looks less like an office than a well-organized living space. A relaxed environment makes work hours less stressful than the typical, sterile office and allows the worker to capitalize on living space outside of office hours. A versatile workspace features limited storage, integrated work surfaces, and creative organization, necessitating a commitment to tidiness and purging that may be off-putting to some home-based workers. Those who are relentless in their pursuit of organization will be best suited for this style of workspace.
As employees leave the workplace and start to set up offices in their home, they often find that the furniture and equipment used in a traditional office space fails to meet their needs. The result has been an increase in custom furniture orders and bespoke furniture designers. Modular office components have begun to transition into home offices, with customized office builds that rival design elements found in high-end offices. Customer-driven designs allow for a customized office, with the features that are most important to the individual home-based worker.
Custom workspaces may include height-specific desks and workspaces, ergonomic chairs, or even convertible equipment, such as a desk that goes from traditional to stand-up. Wall units that allow for varied shelving, drawer space, and storage cubbies can be designed to meet one’s exact specifications. These units may be on the higher end of the price scale, but for an employee who works full time from home, the long-term benefit of having a fully functional, comfortable workspace is worth the cost.
In recent years, the tiny house industry has skyrocketed. People have been drawn to these small living quarters, setting them up as generational housing, guest houses, play houses, and more. As the home-based office trend grew, employees began setting up office versions of the tiny houses, creating separate buildings in the backyard to work. There are numerous benefits to having an external office, rather than repurposing existing in-home space. Primarily, the separation of a workspace from the home means there is no loss of living space. Creating an outside office eliminates the need to sacrifice space in the home as a place to work. In addition, it allows for a mental boundary between ‘home’ and ‘work.’
Walking out the door every day and heading to ‘the office’ reinforces the idea of working and reduces the tendency to get distracted by home responsibilities.
Many employees build their own office space by converting sheds, RVs, and other external buildings into a workable office. Tiny homebuilders have also begun to offer customized build templates, allowing individuals to build their office from the ground up. Each of these options has a different pricing structure, depending on needs and desires of the buyer, and is limited only by the imagination.
Furnishing developers have added fresh new elements for individuals working at home. Design features such as attractive wallpapers, interesting lamps, elegant tables, and stylish office equipment not only increase the appeal of an office, but they can create an environment that evokes one of the most important benefits of working from home: a sense of relaxation.
Developers and retailers are finding new and unique ways to meet the needs of home-based employees. Beyond a folding table and filing cabinet, today’s home office can be a functional, beautiful part of the home. Employees who have designated office space are more productive, more content with their decision to work at home, and more at ease with their surroundings. Furniture designers and developers can offer the home employee form and function when creating their home office, helping to change the way people work.