The post-pandemic return to the office has been noticeably slow in many industries, with unions up in arms in some quarters and companies risking talent loss should they push employees back to the office too fast.
Employees, it seems, prefer working from home in many cases. And that’s led to a lasting change in residential design that’s spilled over from the last few years: The normalization and importance of a home office.
Below we’ll discuss the growing role of home offices in residential design, the newest home office design trends to upgrade your video call background, and what modern office buildings are doing to try to counteract the pull of working remotely.
Home Offices Now a Must-Have Residential Feature
The existence of a dedicated home office has in just a few years turned from a relative luxury, to a trend, to a must-have in today’s often hybrid work environments.
“I can’t tell you how many people, that’s at the top of their list, especially people with a family and children,” says Milwaukee-area Realtor Marie Grandelis in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – adding that she doesn’t see it as a passing fad, either. “Since the pandemic, this has been much more on the buyer’s wish list than not. In many cases, it’s a requirement.”
Many of us learned in early 2020 that sitting in a stiff, straight dining chair at the kitchen table for eight hours a day can get a bit uncomfortable.
Grandelis goes on to say that the growing role of home offices in residential design helps boost a home’s saleability, can add value to the home’s sale price, and that some buyers even prefer multiple home offices.
And it’s not just remote or even hybrid workers demanding these in-home facilities. Retirees, as well, who may perform consulting or other work on the side – or just need a spot to do their taxes and other paperwork – also highly value the existence of a dedicated home office.
Home Office Design Trends
Every designer seems to have a slightly different read on home office trends – some say large desks are in, others say they’re out; while others disagree on other elements of home office design.
But there are several attributes that most designers agree on. Here’s a sampling of them.
Designers say most consumers have turned the page on the kitchen-table-as-full-on-office. The novelty of having dinner beside printers, monitors, and stacks of paper wears off pretty quickly, and in its place is a desire for more private, individual offices that match the personality of their owners.
“One of the biggest trends we have been seeing is people now wanting their own office spaces,” says StudioDB Britt Zunino in Veranda. “Before, people were sharing home offices and now that working from home has become more permanent, they want their own office instead of sharing the space.”
In keeping with the trend above, designers say it’s always a plus to add your own personality to your home office’s design. That could mean rich-looking rows of books, framed historical maps on the walls, guitars, blown-up personal photos from trips, or other personalized design elements. “Having home offices that speak to the people who live in the space is so important and never goes out of trend,” says designer Heather Fujukawa in the same Veranda article.
Biophilic Design and Materials
We covered in a past blog post the importance of biophilic design for human health in public spaces, and the same principle applies to home offices (and homes in general, for that matter). Biophilic design involves bringing nature into our built environments, including natural building and decor materials, good interior air quality through optimized ventilation, and ample natural light with glazing materials that provide ample control of light, temperature, and sound.
After all, there’s nothing like a bit of greenery and some natural materials to warm up an office space – especially in mid-February.
Upcycled Second-Hand Furniture
Repurposing classic furniture – such as second-hand wood desks and repurposed shelving – looks great, is sustainable, and is usually easier on your wallet. “Think iconic mid-century desks and repurposed shelving,” explains interior designer Ryan McDonough in House Beautiful. “Multi-functional pieces of furniture and items that inject more personality into your workspace will also be big in 2023.”
How Office Buildings are Becoming More Like Home
It’s no secret that many organizations would prefer – and that some have mandated – their employees to come to the office at least a couple of days per week.
But it’s not easy for traditional office spaces to match the comforts of home. Indeed, it wasn’t until Feb. 1 of this year that the rate of employees returning to the office eclipsed 50 percent.
That’s why one tactic increasingly embraced by architects, real-estate developers, and office building owners looking to boost stagnant foot traffic and tamp down vacancy rates is an entire rethinking of office design. This rethinking aims to make office spaces more comfortable, home-like environments that are still conducive to getting things done.
This push toward so-called ‘resimercial’ (short for residential-commercial) design includes fewer desks and cubicles and more armchairs, couches, bistro-style tables, and fireplaces. “A lot of this is getting people back into the office after we’ve been working from home for some time,” says JPC Architects’ Talia Olson in The Wall Street Journal. “So why not design a space that has that feeling?”
A recent example of resimercial design can be found at the 47-storey Texas Tower, a Houston office building featuring greenscaped terraces, a dedicated library, amenity spaces, and plush furniture everywhere.
This kind of easy access to nature and outdoor spaces, along with quiet rooms and libraries and more flexible spaces are all huge parts of this new way of designing office spaces.
Unicel Architectural’s highly engineered glazing, curtain wall, and skylight solutions help provide brilliant natural light while optimizing solar heat gain and reducing energy consumption. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create the perfect home office in your next residential design.