It’s no longer news that 40% of the American workforce is now working from home. According to Forbes, this is up from 5%, which it was prior to Covid. And according to multiple news sources, interest in homeschooling has exploded in popularity. Keeping ourselves and our families safe and healthy is now top priority, and our homes are being heavily affected.
First, it was a rush to prepare any kind of set up for working remotely from home. Many kitchen tables, bedrooms, and living rooms were quickly transformed into slapdash spaces to keep business going. With these quick solutions, many have had to contend with distractions from family, pets, and other elements that don’t typically exist in the onsite office environment. After several months of making due in these environments, it’s become clear that working remotely from home will be a longer-term need for many, and one that requires true planning and design to be sustainable.
Beyond the day-to-day distractions and activities occurring in a typical home, there are serious health considerations to be addressed with ergonomics; connectivity and technology optimization for participating in online meetings; as well as storage and efficiency considerations. There are other questions to ask as well: What if you need to meet with a guest? Do you have the proper space for this? What about informal seating? Do you need to be able to get directly outside the house from the space you’re working in? Would you like a view? Will there be glare on your computer screen during certain times of the day?
Once the work came home, we also started considering schooling. How many homes now have kids at home with their parents who are working in the home. We’ve restructured our kids’ routines around what used to be childcare, school and activities. Much of this is now happening at home via homeschooling. This requires yet more desk and computer workspace for those who are schooling remotely, along with quiet library space for studying and reading.
As the months since the beginning of the Covid crisis roll on, we’re seeing that this isn’t a flash in the pan, but the evolution into a new normal. A normal that’s initiating great effect and upheaval in our homes.
Now is the time to shift that upheaval into a productive evolution. Families and individuals are now reassessing where their investments are going and realizing that this may be the time to directly invest in the home, where we’re spending so much of our time. The kitchen table or bedroom desk may no longer suffice as school and office space. Builders are incorporating extra room or office additions into their home plans. Architects are designing offices and remodels to provide for long-term comfort and function in remote work from home. Storage, tables, and computer connections for kids who are homeschooling part or full time have become more necessary. Some families have begun creating co-op schooling scenarios and may need entire rooms added on to their homes to accommodate several children. This has dominoed into a need for home gyms as well.
Home makers may need an office near the kitchen or a home command center, which requires completely different elements than a remote-work home office, school room, or library.
Depending on the needs of a household, a library may be a room unto itself or integrated into an office. For some, a home office with a library component with books brings comfort and warmth while for others a dedicated library space can create a distraction-free environment complimented by furniture, artwork, and other prized possessions.
Arlene at AKJ Architects has worked with these types of projects both commercially and residentially throughout her career, and she’s a home office expert having worked out of her own home office for the past 12 years. Arlene spent four years designing commercial offices and laboratories. She worked at NBBJ designing office buildings and hospitals, specifying furniture, custom cabinets, and conference rooms. Residentially, Arlene has helped her clients bring the most efficient and comfortable furniture into the spaces they have, even in tight spaces. Arlene hand selects the furniture she chooses to convey the feeling her clients want – cozy, sleek, comfortable, classic, etc. At AKJ we have long-standing relationships with IT and distributed audio providers to create the “connected home” to include home automation in lighting and climate, along with home networking that may include encrypted offsite backup solutions.
- Integrating equipment with workspaces
- Window treatments to minimize glare for computer screens
- Furniture selections and specifications
- Finish selection and documentation
- Shelving and storage for books and work/school materials
As we move forward in our lives and in our world, we have an unprecedented opportunity to create. Creating functional spaces for our families, our careers, and our contributions to the world starts at home, where we live, sleep, work and raise our families. We’re embarking on new ways of life, and no matter how big or small your home office or school needs are, space planning and smart design can help you make the most of the space you’re working with.
Thinking of a home office, household command center, homeschool space, or home library? Feel free to give us a call or send us an email.