Designing for working from home
Fraher & Findlay
By Lizzie
April 2020
Well goodness me! As I celebrated the arrival of 2020 on a boozy evening three months ago I would NEVER have guessed we would all be working from home! Well nearly all of us….. A major change to our daily lives and one that mixes up what we know to be our home and what we know to be our place of work.
So what spaces do we associate with home & work?
  • Warmth
  • Comfort
  • Security
  • Calm
  • Social
  • Relaxation

  • Focus
  • Identity
  • Strength

So how on earth do these two mix?

Working from home has become more commonplace as companies' office spaces become more expensive and technology improves. Anyone who has had a period of time working from home will have become familiar with established principles of how to manage it, such as:

  • Get Dressed

  • Establish Boundaries

  • Get out and about

  • Pick up the Phone

  • Take Regular breaks.

But what is the spatial impact of the clash between the home environment and the environment needed for work?

What do I need from a work space?
Separation: A home office should have a distinctly separate space from where you do your day to day living. The physical separation helps you to transfer in and out of work. This does not have to be a totally separate room (a corner of a room may work) - but just demonstrates that working in bed or at the dining table just does not work in the longer term. Spare bedrooms, generous landings can double up as a study space if you do not have a separate room.

For those that need quiet to focus then the separation is critical. For those that struggle with the quiet there are services like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.
Connectivity: We have all been there, when a work task takes you four times longer than in the office due to poor WIFI. Invest in what matters and make sure your connection speeds are the best they can be. You need to ensure that you feel that you are productive, otherwise very soon you will feel as though you are not achieving.

The Jewel Box: Fraher & Findlay

Comfort - A comfortable desk and ergonomic chair - essential tools to avoid back, shoulder and physical health problems. Your desk needs to be at the correct height (740mm above the floor level), your screen at eye level and the chair needs to have lumbar and pelvic support- resulting in your back muscles being less stressed. Do some research into the correct sitting position - it may not feel "natural" to start with but your back and neck will thank you.

Think about the temperature of your work space. Too hot or too cold can cause a distraction so find a place where you can control the temperature and will not be exposed to the peaks of the temperature variation. Avoid sitting in direct sunlight as this may cause you to overheat as well as cause issues with glare on your screen. Open windows and doors to let fresh air in. Make sure you stand up and move around at least once every hour.
Lighting: Try and work in an area that lets as much natural light in as possible. Also have a lamp point nearby to help for working in the evenings.

Fraher Studio: Fraher & Findlay

Nature: A view of the outdoors is ideal - or bring indoors in: Studies have noted that work spaces with plant life demonstrated 15% higher productivity than for spaces with no plants.

It has been found that interrupting a tedious, attention-demanding task with a 40-second "microbreak" — in which one simply looks at a computerized image of a green roof — improved focus as well as subsequent performance on the task. Views of nature make you feel more 'restorative' and perform better on tasks.

Try and keep blinds open and let fresh air in. Take walks and even use natural images as your screen savers.

Also get some plants near your desk!
Garden Studio: The ultimate working from home is of course the garden studio. We have worked on many studios as parts of our Clients' refurbishment projects, and they can offer the separation, view of the landscape and levels of natural lighting that help with home working. They can also be beautiful expressions of architecture within the garden! Any home that has Permitted Development rights does not require planning to build them (so long as they comply with the guidelines on massing).

Signal House: Fraher & Findlay

So during these uncertain times I too am working from home. What's my set up? What is helping me spatially with working from home?
My desk is set up on a landing space so I have separation for working but I am still connected with the bedrooms in the house for break out space for my micro breaks. I have a lovely view over the green roof of our ground floor extension, I also have two windows for cross ventilation so I can keep nice and cool. I have a fantastic Herman Miller office chair with lumber support and my screens are stacked on books to be the correct height. I have a spider plant and a palm directly to my side and I have lovely north light in the room.

I know I am very lucky to have this space but it is a space that takes little sprinklings of all the above to help me work for the short term from home.
I hope that you are all managing to work comfortably from home and I'm sure that we can all imagine that there is an increased likelihood of sharing home and office spaces in the near future. This seems to us to be one of the largest long-term changes that Covid-19 will bring to our lives. The sustainability impact of not having to travel to work will also be significant. But the great news is that it can be very manageable and the life/work balance it can provide us with could be amazing.

Garden Studio: Matt Gibson Architecture & Design Australia
So when thinking about how you may want to design 'working from home' into your project - think about how that balance works with the home. We know the landscape is shifting and the home work element will no doubt become a regular request for future projects.

Over the coming couple of weeks we will be exploring more about improving the connectivity and lighting in your home and also looking at clever ideas to help the separation of work and family life.

#Staystrong #Stayhome #Staysafe
Please feel free to contact the studio to discuss your project. We look forward to hearing from you!