Words Marisa Cutillas, Photography Shutterstock and as indicated
Words Marisa Cutillas, Photography Shutterstock and as indicated

On a global scale, around 16 per cent of companies have fully remote staff, while approximately 62 per cent of employees work from home at least occasionally. The pivotal year that was 2020 prompted many companies to try telecommuting for the first time. Those that did so probably experienced the typical ups and downs of this style of work. On the upside, many employees save considerable time by avoiding the daily commute. On the downside, fully remote employees can miss the sense of camaraderie they used to have. Moreover, despite the utility of tools like Slack, Skype and Asana, communication can suffer, which makes sense considering the fact that 70 to 93 per cent of all communication is non-verbal. Many employees are running into another unexpected obstacle: having to set up a home office system without help from their employers (a mere 20 to 25 per cent of companies are paying for the cost of equipment and furnishings for home offices). If you are now working from home and the thought of designing a brand-new office space appeals, you don’t have to undertake a major renovation. Find your inspiration in the following trends.

Sustainable Interiors

If you love our décor pages, then you may have read our feature on biophilic design – a movement that seeks to create a closer connection between human beings and nature. One important aspect of biophilia is the use of natural, sustainable materials that blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor life. Eco-friendly choices range from flooring (bamboo, reclaimed wood, and sustainably harvested wood are three popular picks) right through to accoutrements like macramé hammocks, teak chairs, and natural fabrics like cotton for furnishings. Wood trim can be found everywhere as well – including walls, shelves, armchairs, office desks, and chairs.

If you have a separate space for an office and you’re up for a renovation, let sustainability take the lead. Bring in as many indoor plants as you can, and position them at various levels (hanging over your desk, standing proud in a special corner and growing on living walls). Plants are natural air purifiers that have been found to improve health, productivity, and concentration. If you are into murals or wallpaper, choose natural subjects such as trees, leaves, or wild verdant jungles. These also make excellent subjects for framed art and sculptures.

Soundproof Spaces

Luxury homes with budgets for features such as soundproofing are buying into office structures that can be fitted into a large living room or common space for greater privacy and independence. ROOM, an international company with locations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, is reshaping offices and home workspaces via smart, sustainable, flexible solutions they sell online and deliver directly. Some of their most interesting products are the Light Phone Booth and the Room for Zoom. The latter, for instance, is a turnkey video conference space that bridges the gap between in-person and remote working for new hybrid workplaces or homes. They include optimised lighting, pre-installed hardware, built-in power units, whiteboards, sustainable soundproofing, sit-and-stand desks and a large touchscreen and webcam. www.room.com

Minimalism Is Back

A few years ago, minimalism gave way to maximalism in all its colourful splendour. However, simple, uncluttered styles have made a comeback in home offices for smaller homes and apartments. Minimalistic offices typically have little more than a small, tidy workplace comprising a neutrally hued desk, wall shelves, and lighting. To ace this look, keep everyday items like pens, diaries, and phones neatly tucked away in your desk drawers and embrace a couple of small decorative items and pops of colour.

If you are into luxury, this trend might still be up your street. Within your tiny space, you can add a chic, elegant ambience through features such as LED lighting, accent table lamps, a designer desk and chairs, and fabric-effect wallpaper. A perfect instance of this trend at play can be found in Laskasas’ Legacy Home Office. www.laskasas.com

Natural And Intelligent Lighting

If you invest in one thing in your home office renovation works, let it be light. Sunlight plays an important role in regulating circadian rhythms, making you more aware and enhancing your concentration. Many homeowners are knocking down walls and replacing them with sliding doors, large iron-framed windows or bay windows. If you have a covered patio, why not set up your workstation there, so you can work amidst greenery or overlooking the sea? If you work in the evening, consider the incorporation of ‘turnable white light’ (a new technology that simulates natural daylight and produces the brightness of nature 24 hours a day). To keep your energy costs down, go for connected LED lighting, which automatically brightens up when you’re present and dims when you leave your office. An intelligent lighting system can cut up to 47 per cent off your energy bills.

Marrying Tradition And Artistry

The ultimate home office is one that expresses your personality and life experience. We previously mentioned that maximalism – which involves mixing contrasting prints and patterns, embracing eclecticism, and making colour a star player in spaces like bedrooms and outdoor patios – is holding sway as a whole in interior design. If you like this trend, bring it into your office space.

Imagine a small, contemporary desk facing a statement wall filled with artworks, prints, and photographs. On either side of the desk are bendable statement lamps and on the desk are travel mementos, photographs, and woodwick essential oil candles. Just behind your desk is a lounge area, where you can relax or meet clients. Stylish pieces such as a Chesterfield or bright chenille-covered chair and a footrest in a serious colour like dark brown leather or burgundy sit gracefully over a bright geometric or art deco rug. These details mark a home office as belonging to a person with a strong eye for design and an understanding of the effect that colour has on mood.

Your office can also comprise mainly traditional pieces of furniture that are complemented by artistic touches like metallic accents, large-scale artworks, and contemporary shelving systems. If you aren’t into bright colours, use novel shapes and textures to fill your surroundings with visual appeal.

Outdoor Offices

A 2020 study by Cornell University scientists found that spending just 10 minutes in a natural setting can reduce the effects of physical and mental stress and make people happier. Of course, this is just one study of many that highlight the importance of spending time outdoors – something that many of us, even those living on the sunny Coast, fail to do as much as our health requires. The solution, here and abroad, comes in the form of outdoor offices, which can be located within one’s garden. In sunny zones, you can simply set your office up under an outdoor solution such as Extremis’ Sensu Single Square or Kosmos Round shade sails. For cooler days, an outdoor firepit or patio warmer will keep the warmth factor high while you type away or engage in Skype calls. www.extremis.com

Outdoor Cabins

For rainy, wintery months, few things are as practical as having an outdoor ‘cubby house’ as your home office. Silence is de rigueur if other family members are also working from home or studying, and an outdoor enclosed construction can provide you with all the privacy you need. Compact cabins may be small but they can be just as stylish as indoor offices. Prioritise quality flooring and walls and insert warmth and artistry into the space through the use of warm colours and details such as Italian pendant lighting.

Creative Work Spaces

Research the topic of home offices and you will find that people are immensely creative when it comes to making the most of a small home. Some are building their offices in original places like the space beneath the staircase, a long hallway with natural lighting and even walk-in wardrobes. If you have an open floor plan, you can simply use creative partitions to establish a space that is all your own. If you want to keep it simple, invest in ergonomic furniture and ensure your desk is large enough to enable you to position your computer and chair at the recommended distance from each other. Make sure you have plenty of leg room beneath your desk and don’t forget to add a few personal touches that make the space feel like it is truly your own.