One of the biggest home trends of 2021 that is showing significant staying power for the foreseeable future is the rise of the home office for remote work. Yes, the home office has technically always been a fixture in many homes, but now, instead of being a ‘nice-to-have’ it has become an absolute must for homeowners.
According to a survey from Craftjack, 91% percent of respondents said they have tried to improve their workspaces, with 90% of those people having spent money to do so. While improvised workspaces worked in the beginning, people are beginning to realize the limitations, and the consequences, of working in spaces that were never designed for it.
That’s where homebuilders and remodelers come into play in being able to provide this high-demand space. Of course, everyone needs a space to work in, but they should also want to work in that space.
Here, we’ve pulled together some of the best choices for a home office that can support remote work functions while also boosting health and productivity, creating work area that remote employees can’t see themselves being without.
Human-Centric Office Furniture
While bedrooms, living rooms and coffee houses served their purpose as ad-hoc offices at the beginning of the pandemic, most furniture isn’t designed with office ergonomics in mind. That’s why a dedicated home office should have both the surface and the seating to accommodate a healthy workstyle.
A proper desk, like a standing desk with a durable, high-performance surface, is a must. Being able to adjust on demand, a standing desk will accommodate a variety of statures, while also promoting good circulation, shifting from sitting to standing positions to help prevent the development of blood clots.
Next, the compliment to any great desk is the chair. With adequate cushioning, as well as adjustable lumbar support, height and armrests for wrist support, the right piece of seating can help ward off carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain that many may have become acquainted with working out of the kitchen chair.
Natural Lighting Whenever Possible, and Artificial to Fill the Gaps
While sunlight is the best light in our opinion, we’re aware that’s not always the case. It does make the perfect way to end the workday, though. As the light winds down close to clocking out, our own circadian clocks will begin to close out as well, providing a nice, natural conclusion to work. Plus, the color temperatures found in natural daylight have been proven to increase productivity and a greater sense of wellbeing.
In situations where natural lighting is lacking, however, the right circadian rhythm lighting set-up can fill in the gaps. This then gives homeowners the freedom to control their space as they see fit. Dialing into a cool white during crunch time can help increase focus and productivity, or they can switch to a more neutral white to prevent overstimulation and burnout.
Having on-demand natural lighting is also a wonderful boon for the growing prevalence of Zoom calls.
Easy Access to Environmental Controls
In the realm of wellness design, lighting is just one part of the equation. Air quality plays just as significant a role in promoting productivity and health in our interior spaces. In fact, according to a Harvard study, poor air quality can negatively impact cognition rates.
But did you know that air quality goes beyond scrubbing pollutant in the air?
Temperature and humidity are two other key elements that play into maintaining a comfortable, health-focused space. Therefore, when designing a home office, a smart thermostat goes a long way, especially one that can connect to an air quality sensor.
This, combined with proper air filtration and humidification, gives homeowners access to a space that can proactively adjust the environment to better match personalized comfort levels.
Raw, Natural Materials to Accent the Space
Biophilia has positively exploded, and for good reason. The more researchers look into how nature affects humans, the more people realize that something as simple as more organic shapes and materials can help revitalize people and make a space more enjoyable to occupy.
Using raw materials in design goes beyond biophilia, though. They’re sustainable, too. The more durable, high-quality materials are capable of lasting for decades, with reclaimed wood, stone and glass products being some of the most durable, all while providing that essential natural contact we all crave.
In an article with Forbes, Nancy Epstein, Founder of Artistic Tile says “Projects that use natural stone and glass products with timeless designs have staying power. There is a growing awareness that the impact of constant renovation to keep apace the latest trends is unsustainable and poor environmental stewardship. By choosing what they love the first time, they are also participating in a reformed economy — one in which we no longer embrace the fast-casual, disposable approach.”
Natural materials are also far less likely to off gas, if at all, meaning more natural materials in a space will lead to better air quality, which then leads to better health and better productivity.
Color That’s Inviting, but not Overstimulating
Much like light, the colors in a home office should be inviting, energizing, but not overstimulating. If people are expecting to spend eight hours a day in these spaces, they need something they’re not likely to get sick of after a while.
Warmer, organic colors have been gaining traction throughout the home, but they also provide the more neutral tones that are less likely to wear out eyes in the office. They also tie in with the theme of increasing natural connections to boost comfort and energy.
In the same article with Forbes, Jamie Davis, Cofounder of Portola Paints says “We’re seeing trends in earthy, warmer, and organic colors as opposed to a few years ago when cleaner, brighter colors were more sought-after. Our shade White Cliffs used to be our most popular color, now customers are gravitating towards Figueroa, a more organic shade. A brighter shade of white would never feel as warm and inviting as an organic shade of white.”
Ultimately, the goal with these design choices is to make the home office as comfortable as possible. By designing a space that offers this level of comfort, while also remaining separate in function from the other locations of a house, designers and integrators can also help promote a greater work/life balance, leading to a home that everyone would want to have.