The announcement that we should all be working from home again has come as no real surprise. For those of us that had returned to the office, it’s another chapter in the ups and downs of C-19 as we head back to well worn home working spots.
After eating, exercising, working, virtually socialising and sleeping in our homes for the majority of 2020, and with this not set to change for a while, many of us have realised that we need to improve our home working environment.
With a series of fluctuating restrictions over the next six months, it’s clear that the future of the working environment has been irrevocably changed and our homes need to adapt. Long term solutions are needed.
If you’re not looking to move, you may be thinking about how to restructure your space to better suit your work needs. If you’ve got the budget and ambition then designing and building a new home gives you total freedom to do this. Whether you’re remodeling your existing space or considering creating a completely new home that will meet your future needs, we’ve got some advice on what to consider.
Previously a requirement for just a few of our projects, recent enquiries have shown that any new home from now on is likely to involve a working space of some kind.
Why design a work space in your home?
The great freedom of working from home is the ability to create an environment that suits your work method - as opposed to sharing a uniform space with hundreds of others.
The way you design a space can impact how you use it, just as the way you use a space can impact how you (re)design it.
A great example of architecture designed to facilitate a home working lifestyle choice is the home and studio built by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects almost 20 years ago. A large pivot door in the centre of the home separates the living spaces on one side from the design studio on the other. Investigate this innovative project here.
Aesthetics such as a garden view or excellent lighting are often a first thought, but don’t forget the spatial and seasonal considerations when designing your 'WFH' space. Converting the shed in your garden might seem like an excellent solution in summer but if it's not able to retain heat in winter then you’ll find yourself freezing over your keyboard - or back working at the kitchen table.
What to think about when designing a work space
The design choices you make should reflect how you believe you work best.
You have the power to create the perfect work-life balance. Thinking truthfully about what you need to be productive at work is important. Whether you spend your day at a desk in isolation or dip in and out of work, your space can be designed to perfectly accommodate personal habits.
Clearly separating the living spaces in your home from work spaces is helpful for some. It means that you don’t have to look at the pile of washing up when you’re planning an important presentation. However, an open layout office space has plenty of benefits, such as being able to keep an eye on a children's area while you work.
If you need to optimise a limited space, ‘10 ways to work from home’ has some great space saving home working ideas, such as a work space that doubles up as a dressing table.
The kitchen table is not a solution
It’s probably the busiest spot in your home. If you enjoy it as a working environment, you might have had to rethink the furniture. There’s a reason why ergonomic chairs are usually kept in a separate room...
The opportunity to tailor a space around what you need to work is invaluable. Understanding how architecture and interiors affect your well-being is a good place to start. The Modern House’s guide to looking after your well-being at home talks about how factors like light, dimension and sound can impact your work ethic.
Your office space could be a dedicated, private room - or a small space separated within a larger open plan area. The latter would be interconnected with the rest of the space's functions but simultaneously provide some privacy. Keeping out of the way with the potential for full isolation, a partially open plan approach like this could utilise features such as large glazed doors or slightly different floor levels to ensure visibility of other areas.
After lockdown in March and working from home ever since, much has been said about the decline in full open plan layouts as people start to see the value in divided spaces again.
What to think about when designing your home office
How do you work and what do you need to stay focused?
This is something we thoroughly investigate with all of our customers before design work begins. Our architects at Facit Homes can help you create the lifestyle you want by asking the right questions about how you intend to live in your home.
We think these are the 5 most important aspects involved in designing a home office for our projects.
5 tips for designing a home office
The way that a space is configured determines the feel and function of a home. Open plan layouts are more suitable for living areas than a focused working environment, but this depends on the individual. Private works paces can be integrated into the design of the home without losing the sense of spatial flow. For example, one of our projects has ground floor living and bedrooms, with a printmaking studio and office upstairs. The spaces are divided like this so that our customers can identify clearly when they are at 'home' and when they are at ‘work’.
One of our key design principles. We believe it has a fundamental effect on the perception of architecture and interiors - among other things. Working next to a window and open spaces have been linked to higher creativity levels, and it doesn’t feel a step too far to assume that this is in part due to natural light. The placement of each Velfac window is carefully considered to bring as much light into the home. The size of windows and sliding doors ensure that a Facit Home is flooded with as much natural light as possible, while creating a connection with the outside world.
Remote working efficiency is often dependent on a strong internet connection. Consider the materials used to make your home. The materials in a Facit Home, such as plywood in our Facit Chassis™, allow an even WiFi transmission throughout the house. Concrete and masonry walls have been accused of interfering with WiFi connections, so may not be the best choice. This will bring an added environmental benefit too, as timber is far more ecologically friendly than concrete. Sometimes only a high speed physical connection will do, if so look at using CAT 6 data cables (or CAT 7 if you are planning to run an intergalactic empire from your home...)
Plug sockets and their placement are essential. Discussing the arrangement of your furnishings during design will help us to understand how you plan to use the room and ensure that the electrical cables in the initial design of the Facit Chassis™ can create clean lines across the office space. We work with you to decide the final number and location of electrical sockets in the technical design phase, ensuring they serve the space.
5. Furniture and Decoration
The furnishings you choose have a huge impact. Again, your choice of furniture is part of early discussions in a Facit Homes project, where we discover not only how the space is intended to be used but what might be in it - from built in joinery to a treasured antique desk. We’d recommend ergonomic chairs and tables to alleviate any potential discomfort. You may even want to consider a more dynamic set up, such as a standing desk. Improving your comfort and creating an engaging work position will help with focus. There is a really lovely article by Mad About The House that explains how to inspire creativity with interior decorating. It talks about the impact and influence that architecture, views, art, walls, curves, noise, lighting and other features have on home working.
Architectural Review suggests that “technological advance and economic changes in the 1990s paved the way” for home working. If we’ve been waiting for the home working revolution since the 90s, most of us were shockingly unprepared.
For more home working content, The Flexible Working Report is a perfect coffee break article discussing the latest report on home working purchases from John Lewis.
For more on our design principles, check out this page.