Designing a work space in your home

With flexible working an increasingly desirable option for employees, working from home is on the rise. But how do you stop it interfering with your domestic life? A new book has some design tips.

Extension House VB4, Brecht, Belgium; Design: dmvA architecten; Photo: Frederik Vercruysse

For many individuals, and even small businesses, it is increasingly desirable to spend some time working from home. In our increasingly connected world, in most parts of the globe this is easily possible – and with apps such as Slack or even good old Google Docs, a team of colleagues can communicate and interact without needing to be in the same space.

Add to this the rising cost of property in major cities, and a desire from millennials to find careers that offer flexibility, it is not surprising to read that recent research by Global Workplace Analytics finds that 80–90% of the US workforce “would like to telework at least part time”.

But how do you create an environment at home that is conducive to work, but doesn’t let your job take over your domestic space? A new book, HomeWork, by Anna Yudina, has some ideas.

Doehler, Brooklyn, New York; Design: SABO Project
All I Own House, Madrid, Spain; Design: formerly PKMN Architectures, now ENORME Studio & EEESTUDIO
Rose & John’s Home, London, UK; Design: Zminkowska De Boise Architects; Photo: Tom Cronin

One of the key themes of the book is how to make the most of a small amount of space. With many homes not having the luxury of a whole room devoted to a study, HomeWork comes up with a number of clever ways that space can be converted for different purposes over the course of the day.

“A home workspace can be seen as either an ‘island’ or a ‘cloud’: occupying a fixed, permanent position within the home, or capable of being moved or folded up to make room for other activities throughout the day,” writes Yudina in the book’s introduction, and many of the projects featured show clever use of space.

This might be a foldaway desk placed in the hallway of a house, or a mobile workspace that can be tucked away at night. There is even an example of a temporary desk space that can be hung over a balcony railing.

With increasingly connected spaces, it is also possible to work in unexpected ways, says Yunida, and across different areas of a home. “Thanks to portable devices and wireless connections, we are no longer tied to a particular of the house,” she points out. You can even get outside the house altogether, with one section featuring examples of ‘writer’s sheds’, which are almost as desirable as the homes themselves.

Flatmate; Design: Michael Hilgers; Production: Müller Möbelwerkstätten
Gran Via Apartment, Barcelona, Spain; Design: Anna & Eugeni Bach; Photo: Eugeni Bach
Compact Living, Copenhagen, Denmark; Design: Spacon & X; Photograph: Dorte Krogh

This connectivity does bring with it one of the biggest concerns of home workers, however: that you will never be ‘off’. Yunida does little to allay this fear with her next suggestion: “If you tend to have your best ideas in the shower, why not use an integrated device to instantly record and upload them to the Cloud for sharing with your distributed team of remote-working collaborators?”

While this might be a little too much connectivity for many, her point stands: our connected world does allow us to work in unusual ways and can give flexibility in fitting work around our other responsibilities. But perhaps this variety of working should always come with the caveat: ‘handle with care’.

As Iain Tait points out in this article on why creative brains need time off, switching off can be vital to creativity and ideas generation: and is perhaps the reason we tend to have those great ideas in the shower in the first place.

Essex Mews, London, UK; Design: MW Architects; Photo: Ben Blossom
Loft For Brussels, Belgium; Design: ADN architecture

Home/Work contains some clever design solutions, and for fans of minimalist design there is much to drool over. The spaces featured do become repetitive though, and as with all interior design books, we are presented with a very idealised style of living.

There are ideas to cherrypick though, and if nothing else, it provides a vision of working from home to strive for: a daydream of when the general detritus of the home has been magically stripped away and the cat isn’t fighting with the computer for your lap.

HomeWork is published by Thames & Hudson, £16.95;


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