When friends of mine began their ‘office’ careers back in the late 70s and early 80s, the idea of telecommuting didn’t even exists. If you will digress with me for a moment, picture office interiors with typewriters, steno pads and carbon paper. In the last 40 years the trends in office space and design have changed tremendously. Up to about the mid-90s did most or shall I say all folks went to work at their physical place of business. In a very very few circumstances, a gentleman who may have been a salesman would do some traveling in their work, but when he returned from being on the road, he had an desk and a chair to report to…somewhere.
The norm was one secretary for every manager. So in theory there were two people hired to do one job. The furniture also depicted the hierarchy. The boss always had a great big office, a large desk and comfy chair while his support person sat practically on a stool waiting for her next assignment.
More People Less Space
Enter the huge growth mode in business during the 80s and we find the birth of the inaugural computers or word processors. The trends are changing and there are more people needed to keep up with the volume of work. The secretaries are now being hired as word processors (a noun and a verb here) and the secretary we know is disappearing as was the furniture. The new office culture requires more seats for more bodies and the modular pods were born. Here you could fit more people in a lot less space with creativity and color. Enter pop culture and color. A screen on every desk.
Are You Coming In Today?
Something happened in the mid-90s, and we all ended up at home. Telecommuting became an official word along with the invention of the computer (oddly telecommuting first appeared in the dictionary in the mid-70s). The need to reduce costs was paramount and companies realized they could use the technology of the day i.e., the laptop and eventually the smart phone to conduct almost any type of business-anywhere. Men also learned to type.
Enter the day of the home office and a grand opportunity for interior design. Now, as designers, we were not only enhance the living spaces of a client, but also their work environments. This addition to our design portfolio allowed for expression and function.
The trends have changed significantly and continue to do so. The latest information we have up until 2015 looks something like this:
- Regular work at home, among the non-self-employed population has grown by 103% since 2005.
- 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
- The employee population as a whole grew by 1.9″ from 2013-2014, while employees who telecommuter population grew 5.6%
These are staggering numbers that are growing each year have been a wonderful opportunity for me in creating office spaces in New York apartments that may not have existed 20 or 30 years ago. For instance, one project on Central Park West provided additional space that was initially intended to serve as living quarters for the live-in help. This space was ideal and allowed me to create a fabulous, functional space that married to the look and feel of the rest of this luxury apartment. These terrific uncommon spaces, provide a perfect environment for any type of home-work. While you may not think there is any space in your current apartment, you’d be surprised how the use of a nook or cranny can lend itself to a perfect home office.