As workplace design increasingly borrows from residential spaces, the sharp distinction between home and office has softened.
Open kitchens, espresso machines, cosy lounge areas, assorted houseplants, bike racks and refined art collections – customary inclusions for any comfortable home, and now – for any comfortable office too. The way we work has evolved, and the sharp distinction between work and life, home and office, has softened. While the idea of the home-office is not new, incorporating domestic elements into the office space has become more and more popular as sought after workplace design.
The concept is largely a bi-product of the dotcom era and the Information Age, brought on by Internet giants like Google reimagining work as creative and relaxed rather than just requisite and stringent. Work should be part of a greater lifestyle choice, much like the location or layout of our home.
Mobile technology has meant that workers aren’t ever solely desk-bound. Wi-Fi, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and advanced video conferencing have allowed us to unplug and work freely and fluidly. We can lounge as we conduct casual team meetings, recline on a client call, or collaborate in the kitchen over lunch.
The staff kitchen at Dropbox HQ in San Francisco could easily be mistaken for a stylish home interior, while their many breakout areas with views across the Bay could almost be well appointed lounge rooms in stylish apartments. Indeed, warm design elements such as innovative, texture-rich carpet tiles add a sense of comfort to a workplace, usually only associated with home.
The trend has also arisen as employers increasingly acknowledge the quality of life of their workers and a growing emphasis on health and wellbeing. When considering recruitment and retention of staff, what makes for the most comfortable working environment? Workplace design is moving away from the idea of quantitative performance, and shifting to something more authentic, like the home. Ping-Pong tables, AstroTurf squares and Heineken in the mini fridge are no longer impressive amenities in any workplace. The office, like the home, is not a playground and thoughtful, intuitive design that is ergonomic, aesthetically engaging, and with all the comforts of home, is bound to inspire productivity and a more passionate workforce. After all, home is where the heart is.