Your Home is More Than a Sanctuary. Now it is EVERYTHING.
If only your home was actually built for “everything.”
Home sweet home. It’s always been a sanctuary, but after months of Covid-19 work from home lock down, it's way more than just that. It's also an office, a studio, a classroom, a cafeteria, a gym, a park, a barbershop, and a spa. It’s suddenly a whole city of needs crammed into 4 walls we still call home.
So how’s it going?
Be careful what you wish for
You’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a zero commute job, haven’t you? Especially in January and February. Cut that 45 to an hour commute (one-way) into a 4 second stroll, from kitchen to the second bedroom or the converted book shelf nook in the family room, coffee in hand, socks and pants optional, dog in tow, while your spouse preps the kids for virtual school at the kitchen table.
For many of us that dream has now come true—along with lots of other daily responsibilities we didn’t dream about as parents. Working from home also brings endless days with the kids afoot while they should be “distance learning”, a spouse in one room zooming, while you’re in the other zooming, with the dog snoring, while the cat coughs up the latest hairball. Soon it will be lunchtime. Then, you guessed it, dinner.
You might work remotely, but you can’t live that way. In fact, living under today’s circumstances is easily overtaxing our families and our physical living spaces and even our mental health.
So, perhaps it’s time to face the fact that the home you bought so many years ago, well even last year for that matter, was never meant to supply the current needs required during a pandemic.
Most of us just made do. We had little choice. We hauled up the Thanksgiving card table, pulled over a kitchen chair, plugged in the laptop and snapped on the overhead light. Problem solved. Hardly. While you might be able to make it work for a day or two, it isn’t long before you neck is stiff and your work colleagues think you have moved into a cave, or the interrogation room at the FBI.
You have to ask yourself—Is this my future work environment? Can I live with it every day and be productive?
“Throwing a desk into an empty room and adding some shelves doesn’t really make a home office. Well, not one you or I would want to work in every day,” comments Owner John Murphy. “With many companies choosing to keep people working at home for many sound business reasons alone, a legitimate office in the home is going to be the number one issue if it isn’t already,” says Murphy.
Here’s what he’s talking about:
- Ergonomics—Which is not the study of ergos or economics, but the proper body alignment to work surface and chair height so you don’t start looking and feeling like the hunch back of you know what.
- Sound proofing—So you can zoom your day away and not apologize for your neighbors incessant need to mow and blow, or anyone else in the house competing with you for the stage.
- Lighting—So you don’t look like actual “The Shadow” himself when you are zooming and so you actually have adequate task lighting and general mood enhancing illumination. This might also include adequate natural light—you know that window you always wished you had at work.
- Technology—So you have high-speed and enough bandwidth to handle multiple simultaneous users AND ergonomic work station design so your not zooming your nose and chin hairs to everyone in accounting.
- Flat workspace and adequate filing storage—So your search for that report, article or book doesn’t also include a rope around your waste and a notice to loved ones to come find your if you don’t return in an hour or two.
- Adequate HVAC, (heating and cooling)—So you are not cooking the hair off your ankles with a fire-hazard device impersonating a space heater.
- Privacy entrance—Whether a solid core door or an actual separate entrance where you can actually meeting with people in person (gasp!).
- Private bathroom—So you are not competing with the rest of the at-home crew for time-sensitive personal hygiene.
- Beverage center—Well, okay this is probably not entirely necessary since you have a kitchen, but wouldn't it be nice? Heck, you could always add some life-sized cutouts of your previous office crew for that sense of “water-cooler” camaraderie. Or not. Your choice.
- Beauty—While you can literally work standing up in a closet if you have to, you are a human being and your mental health depends on some level of beauty even if that only involves some new paint.
The shift is on
If this really is a paradigm shift in our culture then many of us will need a well-designed, thoughtful home office layout and color scheme that helps us get the most productive and enjoyable work day possible. Unless of course you are one of the few that gets pleasure out of undo suffering. Then we would suggest gloss white walls and a black metal desk on a linoleum floor patterned after an unsolvable geometric puzzle, illuminating by a single overhead bulb on a chain. Oh, and located in a cold dark moldy basement. That will build some character.