The new liquid way to work is characterised by globalisation, digitalisation and outsourcing. Working in a virtual world with colleagues in other functions, locations, business units and cultures is becoming more common and is basically allowing for people to ’go home’. At the same time many workplaces seem to be transforming into leisure inspired areas by combining exercise areas that allow for relaxed social gatherings, kitchens and space for informal meetings.
At architecture and design firm Woods Bagot’s Sydney studio, warm timber, planting and statement lights bring a residential feel, while a kitchen-style bench provides another space for collaborative work. At a glance it’s clear that the office is becoming increasingly like the home. And the question one must ask is how this will affect the way professionals working in these types of environments will start to perceive both the home and the office. It wouldn’t be farfetched to suggest that those working from home will be keen on decorating in a way that would support their work efforts and vice versa.
However, governments have started to regulate how and when working in the home is accepted. In Germany, the Labour Ministry has stepped in to regulate calls from superiors after hours, in order to protect wellbeing of staff. In France, a similar proposal from labour unions suggested to ban e-mails after working hours. Banning technology during certain hours is a symbolic attempt to make sure that the other side of the worker – the citizen – won’t end up in need of support, causing strain on the public well-fare system.
"People want their workplaces to offer the same comfort that they would have at home, be a place to store their stuff, allow personal space and create a community.”Wayne Hemingway, Founder, Hemingway Design
Another aspect of working from home is the space it creates. For example, if office tenants used 20% less of the current office space in the USA, which has a total valuation of $1.25 trillion, the decrease in demand would represent $250 billion in excess office capacity. To meet this new work landscape of choice, many organisations are formalising “alternative workplace” programs that combined non-traditional work practices, settings and locations, according to a recent benchmarking study. Also, facility management indicates that 32% of their employees would be considered mobile workers, where mobile workers spend 50% or less time in the workplace, and 29% of their employees work from home at least one day a week in 2013 compared to 17% three years ago.
Hitting the sweet spot in making the best of design opportunities for a home sweet home office will include all aspects of meshing domestic design and traditional office design into new solutions.
This article has been taken from the Kinnarps Trend Report 2015. Click here to download the full research paper.