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01 May 2020

Does Working from Home Work?

  • Does Working from Home Work?

    After weeks of the UK being in lockdown and companies seeing their offices relocate to micro workstations around the country, Studio Indigo gives an insight into how this will impact on how we work and if working from home is really all it’s cracked up to be

    For a long time, people have extolled the virtues of working from home. The flexibility that it can bring whilst also increasing our thinking time. Isolation as it’s well known, gives people the chance to reflect and concentrate, producing more work and perhaps even being more creative that they would usually be surrounded by people.

    INCREASED EFFICIENCY AND POSITIVE IMPACTS OF WFH

    Working from home can give the peace and quiet that one needs to truly put pen to paper and let your creativity fly.

    Amongst the tragedy that the COVID-19 has brought, we can also see the positive impacts it has had on society and how we work:

    > An improvement in relationships with family or cohabitants, giving us the time to deepen our connections via close bonding, endless time spent watching films or playing with dusty board games no one used to play.

    > An increase in productivity and efficiency at work, whilst also a yearning to want to better ourselves through virtual learning or dedication to a specific subject/field.

    > The impact on the environment can also not be ignored. Without travel we have seen how clearer the seas are, how animals are reclaiming the land and air quality has improved with a decrease in pollutant gases at a mass scale [1]

    However, with freedom of choice now gone and with a forced confinement, it has made us also realise the shortcomings that come from working from home.

    NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF SELF ISOLATION

    One of the negative impacts is the detrimental effect of social isolation, which can have a severe impact  on our mental health, as professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt-Lunstad states: “a lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day” [2]  We are after all humans made up of emotional responses and social interactions and we tend to forget how much we benefit from contact on both a personal and creative level.

    We are after all humans made up of emotional responses and social interactions and we tend to forget how much we benefit from contact on both a personal and creative level.

    On the other hand, with technology ever more abundant, we have found ourselves communicating much more with colleagues and friends, some of whom we may have even lost touch with. But as this increased sense of availability shows, it can also be incredibly stressful, with the boundaries between work and home life becoming entirely non-existent. We are pressured via every form of communication to be seen as visually active as possible, with an increase in virtual meetings, zoom conferences, and Microsoft Teams chats; all of which have easy to use interface that look and feel like Whatsapp.

    ARE HOMES EQUIPPED FOR WFH?

    For most of our clients, a home office has been built into the design of their home but for others, a study may have been an afterthought. After this extended period indoors and enduring 8 hours on a chair that was not meant for excessive use, we can guarantee that a study will be a requirement in most homes with a heightened importance in ergonomics.

    Without a proper work set-up, we can see an impact in productivity levels due to the lack of having the right equipment such as printers, scanners, right computer-to-eye level ratio and chair comfortability.

    However, as we learn to isolate and work from home, hobbies and exercise become more important. A lot of our clients have traditionally wanted gyms and spa facilities, and only a few have in the past asked for ‘hobby rooms’. These spaces have now had a fresh impetus.  A sharp increase in sales of exercise gear and hobby crafts [3] show the population’s sudden craving for creative escapism and healthier lifestyles, providing fresh opportunities to create inspiring dedicated rooms where one can liberate one’s self from the repetitive rhythm of the new “normal”.

    A BALANCING ACT

    Having tasted the benefits of home working, we think once this pandemic is over there will be a rebalancing act. There will be increased home working where possible, and technology will make this easier, as people adapt their home space to achieve this.

    Whilst some technology may also help bridge the gap between VR and touch – at this year’s Boat International’s Superyacht Design Festival a clever virtual reality gadget  was exhibited by Seatle-based start up HaptX – a blade-runner style glove (HaptXgloves) allowing the wearer to do everything from touch different textures or turn the wheel of a boat.

    However, the social and creative benefits of coming together as humans will continue and cannot be denied. As Mike Fisher, Creative Director of Studio Indigo points out “At the end of the day, architecture and interior design is a people’s business. Understanding what people like and don’t like is at the core of creating inventive and inspiring design solutions” 

    He also advises all who do work from home tolearn to physically separate from your workspace from your home space where possible – garden, shed or attic room is a good start – to help restore the boundary between a healthy work-life balance”

    Featured photo: Project CHELSEA HOUSE I

    [1]https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/benign-impact-of-covid-19-on-air-quality-and-carbon-emissions-1.4213930

    [2] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1745691614568352

    [3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52383193