Analysis of issues and solutions concerning the contemporary work-from-home topic.
By career choice of forced by health safety concerns, many are starting to work from their homes introducing a new issue in the management of space and activities within the limits of our apartments.
We address the biggest problematics related to these changes and focus on the most important aspects that can help us to do it the right way.
Take a possible source of stress and complications and turn it into an opportunity to make a positive change and an improvement in our lifestyle.
Analysis of the conflicts
The addition of a workspace in our homes, as are they now usually conceived and intended, can lead to many conflicts and incompatibilities, as in fact the new workspace is a foreign object in the traditional apartment. Those conflicts can be summarized in two categories: conflicts of activities and conflicts of space.
/Conflict of activities
- Work/Work. When in your household multiple people are working at the same time, you face quite a challenge. First you might want to arrange different spaces and corners for each worker, so that everyone can have as much freedom and privacy as possible, but this is very space demanding and, in some cases, not feasible.
Second if you share the same room, you must organize your working routines in a way that you do not disturb each other. Plants and ambient music are a good way to reduce stress and keep us calmer.
Invest in a good project, proper equipment and some basic rules, and you might actually end up creating a very productive and vibrant space, that also helps everyone to remain motivated and focused, which, especially in the first period of home office, can be quite an issue.
- Work/Free Time. Not everyone has similar duties or working schedules, and if in your free time you are confined at home you must find a way to reconcile totally different activities. In this scenario, separation is the key: find different rooms and look at their untapped potential. Then think simultaneously at two different solutions to avoid interference.
- Work/Rest. Again, we need to find balance between different day to day routines. Moreover, it is good and advisable to make breaks (one of the home-office perks). Try arranging a safe space, better if small, with good acoustic, comfortable, where you can relax and zone out for a brief moment. On the other way around, make sure, that who is working, will not disturb sleeping and resting people in other rooms. There are plenty of technological and practical solution now, so it should not be a problem, nor an excuse to not do that.
/Conflict of space
- Physical. There is clearly a demand for space, when adding an office at home. The mere place where you will be working, the equipment in use, which can be more or less bulky, and the storage space, for documents, archive, and all equipment not in active use.
- Psychological. The presence of a stress source in the house can be destabilizing, even outside the working hours. It is good to try to conceal and close out the working space, for when we knock off work (it works well also to keep children and pet to mess up with the important stuff), as well as creating a more “homy” working space, with warmer traits than an usual office.
- Privacy. Putting these two worlds near each other leads to an high chance that your private sphere at work cab be somehow be broken by what happens in your home and on the other hand, opening this new door, allows your professional world to leak into your private life and have a peek of your private affairs. Sometimes is not a big deal, but without a good setup it can become a bad habit and lead to discomfort.
Weighing up the benefits
Working from home is not just about new problems, in fact it is actually quite the opposite: there are many benefits in this work system, most of them are immediate and personal and easy to see, but others affect also our community in a positive way, like less transit, less pollution, reduced costs for employers, companies as well as reduced transportation load for the city finances.
However, let’s concentrate on the individual benefits. There have been many studies and interviews and most of the people expressed satisfaction about the new changes (still there some corners to round, since it is a new thing and many companies are not yet finely tuned and equipped to make everything work seamlessly, not yet).
- On top of the “pros” list there is the elimination of the need to commute: time, costs, stress. Suddenly you can sleep more, get to work without fighting with everyone who is trying to do the same (as well as bad weather) and spare some money. Isn’t it great?
- Then comes the ability to focus more on your workflow: less interruptions, less temptation from bosses and colleagues to ask something from you. Less noise and more chances to manage your time, which leads to more productivity, which leads to even more time to think, organize and have breaks.
- It is also easier to take short breaks (without anyone criticizing) which increases concentration and lessens eyes fatigue and postural problems.
- About warming your working space: for those who have pets, they now have a beautiful chance to spend more time with them, enjoy each other’s presence, and in the end be less stressed.
- If there was good, tasteful coffee or tea at your workplace, you are one of the lucky few: now you can treat yourself with something that does not shortens your life expectancy. The same goes for music or silence: what you want, when you want it.
- Last but not least: you can set up your working space as you like. Total freedom to adapt your setup to your needs and work at your absolute best, in the atmosphere that you prefer.
Outlining strategies and architectural solutions
The first keywords we need to focus on, are flexibility and reversibility. Being able to change setup according to your new evolving needs is of paramount importance, as well as having the option to put everything back away when you are done working or if you ever go back working outside your home.
Start simple, stay simple. Try a minimalistic approach to your new workspace: easier to manage, to clean up, to show at meetings, it helps concentrating and is more pleasant to the eye: this is important because you have to spend loads of time in this space, but unlike before you have now control over it.
Invest in good lighting, acoustic solutions and ergonomics: working too long in an uncomfortable setting can harm your body and actually prevent you from working for some time.
One interesting concept to be inspired from is the traditional Japanese house system: without going to much into details, basically any room is conceived as a flexible, modular, empty space. The walls and the furniture at the perimeter can be opened and the room is staged each time for a different activity through the day.
Try to seize this new opportunity to improve your home and have a better working experience. You can research what inspires you, but it is suggested not to improvise: to plan and realize a good solution that can accompany you in this new journey and satisfy all criteria we previously analysed, you should take advantage of a professional’s expertise.
We (architects, as well as our firm) offer concepts and case studies from remote, we can refer you the best products to deliver the results you need and guide you in the renovation as well as tailored solutions that adapts to your unique space and budget.