Incorporating Elements of the Home into the Design of Offices
For many people, the home is the place where we spend a large part of our lives. It is an environment specifically designed, created or chosen by us, for our own usage and to meet our many needs. The home is made up of a range of spaces that reflect our personality and is an intrinsic haven, helping us to relax and recharge.
Second to the home, the workspace is the most common place for us to spend our time. Imagine if this working environment provoked the same positive and relaxed feelings as our homes. This would make going to work much more attractive, making it a productive experience. For many employees, their workspace is imposed upon them, providing a one-size-fits-all location to accomplish every activity, in a single work environment like a desk. By creating a working environment that replicates the design and feel of a home, that is flexible, relaxed and provides a range of working spaces. This makes employees happier and more productive, allowing for much greater collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning, than working from home.
Task Appropriate and Intentional Spaces
The home is made up of a compilation of spaces designed for specific activities and tasks – you cook in the kitchen, barbeque on the deck, clean your teeth in the bathroom, and repair a bike in the shed. It makes sense to have designated spaces for specific purposes and activities. It is common sense that you wouldn’t cook your tea in the bedroom or sleep in the bathroom. Why? Because the space is not set up to serve and cater for those activities.
The office space should be an environment that that follows this pattern of thinking and design for all activities, as not everyone wants to work at a desk. Employees are expected to complete most of their activities in a single workspace (at a desk or an office). Instead, give workers control over how and where they work. The office should be designed to accommodate quiet spaces for focus and quiet working, open spaces for interaction and collaboration, and breakout spaces for people to take a break or have an informal meeting that doesn’t interrupt others.
This ‘Activity-Based Working’ approach of offering employees task-appropriate spaces rather than an assigned desk provides them with a variety of workspaces so they can choose the environment that best suits their activity or mood, thus helping them to be more productive. Providing choice and autonomy over their environment and work space, employees will be happier, more engaged and more productive.
Aesthetics of a Home in an Office
The elements of designing an office is more than just rows of desks and architecturally designed floor plans, there is a growing trend for offices designed with a homelier feel so that employees do not feel like they are working from an office. By creating comfortable working settings in your office, you can replicate the benefits of being at home whilst bringing people into the office, where people feel a sense of belonging and inclusion – reducing absenteeism and increasing the connection and collaboration of employees.
Make the Breakout Space the Centre
Eating and drinking is a universal bond between people and socialising. The kitchen is usually viewed as the ‘heart of the home’ but now the kitchen or breakout space in an office, is increasingly being viewed as the heart of the working environment – it is where employees converge to eat, drink and interact. The kitchen or employee breakout space is also a place to work away from your primary workspace and that enables you to refuel your body and mind. Eating and drinking play an important role in creating harmony in the working environment, like a home, the kitchen in an office brings people together to connect, creating a sense of community. Providing fantastic food, coffee, beer wine and other beverages, makes the workspace a social space, showing to your staff that you not only care about them but that the workspace is more than just a place to work.
If employees are given the opportunity to work in a comfortable working environment that replicates the design and feel of a home, that is flexible, relaxed and provides a range of working spaces. This will make for happier and more productive employees, allowing for much greater collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning, than working from home.