The Ideal Home Office Is Lacking One Thing

Sure it’s remotely functional, but does it make your brain happy?


Published on 24 Sep 2021

Beauty at the office should be everyday.

According to scientific research your brain experiences pleasure when you look at this Cézanne landscape painting. And even more so if you owned it!

Through all the worry and madness of the last 18 months, there is one enormous upside for millions of people. And one big downside. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics roughly 42% of the working population in America, now works from home, reducing the stress of the daily commute from 10 hours a week in traffic to 10 seconds.

Great! But is that enough? We would argue not really. Think on it for a minute. For most of us, traffic to work is like a kind of prison with, of course, sudden death as one distinct possibility. Getting out of one prison only to find yourself in another one, your own home office isn’t much of a consolation.

Well, at least there's a chair.
So let’s unlock this idea a bit. How do you know if your home office is adding more anxiety and stress while making productivity more of a struggle?

Mini self-assessment

Do your own mini self-assessment. What does your undesigned, impromptu home office environment look like? Feel like? Function like?

  • How often are you interrupted during the day?
  • Do you have privacy, both visual and auditory?
  • Do you have a view of nature that inspires you and adds to your dopamine levels?
  • Do the colors in your room give you a sense of calm and focus?
  • Is your work area ergonomic?
  • Do you have any natural sunlight?

And the big one, if money and time were no object, what would you change about the way your home office is designed?

The early zoom calls were brutal, and so was the home office environment most people had to endure. Our staff member, Jonah Smith, working from his bedroom circa 2020.
So, what have you got today? Is it more of a farm animal existence? Like being boarded in the “work from home” stable? A nice little spare stall of some kind, a window maybe, with access to feed? Inspiring. You might call it, the boring basement of business, the bedroom of banality, or with kids, the kitchen of kinetic mayhem.
Well, at least there are 2 chairs.
Or maybe your current home office is more like the movie “Castaway”. You find yourself stranded at home, with a roof, lots of useless distracting clutter, a fridge, and a digital device or two. The rest is up to you to pull together. Will I work from the kitchen, the attic, the basement, the garage, the deck, the front porch, my bedroom?

None of these rooms were built for visual or auditory privacy, proper work surface configuration, technology, or ergonomically correct accessibility to devices or storage. And none of them were designed for the kind of beauty you need.

Our marketing director's home office right after the 2019 fire that started us on the work from home path long before the pandemic. Well, at least he has 2 chairs and 2 windows.
While all those functional design considerations are critical to a good office reconfiguration, we’re missing one big aspect in the design of a great home office—the application of beauty as the expression of shape, color, symmetry, contrast, texture, nature, and sunlight.

What do evolutionary psychologists say?

According to The Caveman’s Guide to Building a Better Office by Ron Friedman, even planned offices usually don’t get it right…

"It’s not hard for the evolutionary psychologist to see why so many offices fail to engage their employees. Depriving people of sunlight, restricting their views, and seating them with their backs exposed is not a recipe for success—it’s a recipe for chronic anxiety.

We tend to assume that employee engagement is about the work, that so long as we give talented people challenging tasks and the tools to excel, they will be happy. But that formula is incomplete. Our mind responds to the signals in our environment. And the less comfortable we are while doing our work, the fewer cognitive resources we have available. And this is why design ultimately matters."

In this short video, one of our designers breaks down the design principles involved in this 3-season hybrid porch addition in our last blog. It doubles as a home office and here you can learn why someone would want to work in the space.

Clinical psychologists suggest that there should be at least one room in your home that is dedicated to beauty—for restorative psychological health. Shouldn’t that space be the one you spend the most time in?

So, if you’re going to office from home, more or less permanently, consider it as an opportunity to make that space so incredibly useful and beautiful that you can be both impressively productive and cognitively healthy at the same time. Don’t just get by. Get going with beauty.

We're here for a free consult anytime.

"We do not merely want to see beauty...we want something else that can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it."