Working from home doesn’t look like it used to — and that is a good thing! I remember as a kid, my dad had a home office in our basement, complete with a multiline business phone, clunky fax machine and a heavy laptop computer I’d borrow after-hours to play Wheel of Fortune on. Besides the computer games, his office didn’t look like a whole lot of fun. In fact, it was not much different than the dull corporate office spaces I’ve worked in as an adult. But, back then, that’s what “working from home” looked like — a snooze-fest of an extension of corporate headquarters. There was nothing about a home office that felt like home.
Fast forward about 25 years, and working from home has evolved tremendously. Just about anything goes when it comes to a home office, from a simple laptop at the kitchen table to a fully decked-out workspace in a garage apartment or guesthouse. The rules and expectations for working at home have changed as technology has evolved and smart business owners are supporting the demand for a more flexible work environment.
The need for home workspaces has increased dramatically in the past couple of decades. In 2016, 43 percent of working Americans spent some time working remotely, according to a Gallup survey of more than 15,000 adults. And in 2015, Inc. magazine reported that “27 million working-age Americans — nearly 14 percent — are starting or running new businesses.” I’m sure that number has only gone up in the past three years.
Since so many of us are working from home, it’s time to create home workspaces and offices we actually want to work in! Whether it’s sitting in bed on a laptop or behind a desk in a full-fledged home office, making a workspace work for you is essential to your productivity, creativity and well-being.
I feel pretty fortunate that after spending my first 10 years post-college being employed by others, I was able to make the leap nearly three years ago to working for myself, from home. Lesley Myrick Art and Design officially launched in 2015 from a small desk in my master bedroom, and we have since converted what was the formal dining room into my office and studio.
My office is a space that I love to spend time in. Good thing, since it is right off my kitchen and I couldn’t avoid it if I tried. Some entrepreneurs do just fine working from bed in their jammies, but I need the structure and boundaries of a real office to do my best work. I’ve been able to design a home office that feels like an office but also feels like home and functions perfectly for our family. While I am in the office planning a design scheme, my 8-month-old daughter is chillin’ next to me in her playpen. Win-win.
The adorable home office pictured is a recent design project I completed in McGregor for a work-at-home entrepreneur mama and her three kids. I loved this project from the get-go since I totally understand the need to involve family in a home workspace. Work and family are no longer mutually exclusive. My client wanted an office that was fresh, colorful and energetic to support and inspire her in her fitness coaching business, and she also wanted to include dedicated space to encourage creativity in her awesome kiddos.
The vibrant floral wallpaper and hammered brass sideboard are the stars of this show — and totally not what you would expect to see in a typical office. However, that’s all part of the fun and flexibility of working from home. Anything goes, baby. A wooden antelope head? Sure. Original abstract art? Of course. A desk lamp shaped like a T. rex? Why not?
Our environment has a huge impact on how we feel and how we function, and I’m so happy to see savvy entrepreneurs embracing the offbeat in their offices. Out go the beige office walls, glaring overhead lights and boring corporate furniture. In come the family-friendly furnishings, sleek technology and personalized interiors. It seems to me that function was the primary asset valued in office designs of the past; now, I think we are all ready to embrace the fact that form is just as valuable as function.
Designing a home office that’s livable, delightful and a little unexpected is a fresh approach to working from home, and I am thrilled to be part of the new generation of “office workers” who are changing the landscape of what a workspace looks like. If you need me, I will be updating America’s home offices, one awesome accent wall at a time.