How to Design a Productive and Profitable Home Office

Home Offices: Invariably the first thought that comes to mind is “do I want to work from home or in an office?’ Most entrepreneurs have this flexibility and more companies are providing flex time allowing employees the opportunity to choose this option.

I now have an office away from home. I find myself to be far more productive perhaps being away from the siren’s cry of dishes in the sink and laundry to be folded not to mention the countless interruptions by delivery men or the home phone was what led me to take a space. Primarily, I made the move because it’s hard to explain how I design corporate offices and not have one of my own. That being said, there are many who love working from home.

So how does one do this and make it work effectively?

Avery Design Interiors

1. Carefully choose your space. A computer in your bedroom is not a great option. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Either you are going to be falling asleep at the computer or awake late at night thinking about that screen beckoning you for one last email.

I have placed offices in under-utilized dining rooms, kitchens, spare bedrooms, shared guest rooms, basements and even reconfigured closets.

At our Silvermine (Fairfield County, CT) house, we had a large shared office in the spare bedroom (see above). In our current home, we have used the shared guest room technique – small desk, small daybed. My husband has a sizeable home office space in the lower level family room with a large project desk that any of us can use for drawing, fabric layouts or arts and crafts for our youngest office user. In a New York City apartment I created a desk area from a closet.

2. The family balance. Is there really work life balance? That’s a different post. But I know from personal experience that short of a padlock, it’s unrealistic for work at home moms (and dads) to keep their littlest ones out of their home offices.

Source: tipjunkie.com via Avery on Pinterest

Create a small area (if you have enough space) with a mini desk or table and chairs designated just for the kinder set. I love the little seat/nook shown above for a child to curl up in and read a book. This home office was tucked into a closet. Provide them with their own “office supplies” crayons, pencils, etc. so they can “work” too. Children love to help. Have some envelopes you need stuffed and stamped? You might just have an able assistant at your side. Can’t hurt to ask. And after a little while, they just might decide playing with trucks or Barbies is a whole lot more fun.

3. Be sure to invest in a proper chair and lighting. Balancing the laptop on your lap while you sit curled on the sofa all day is asking for hours at the chiropractor. As much as your local chiropractor would love the work, they value your spine and want you to value it too.

Source: houzz.com via Avery on Pinterest

Ideally, you want a sunny spot where the light does not reflect on your computer screen. In the absence of or in addition to natural light, Nikken makes a wonderful full spectrum light called the Kenko II, if you don’t want to bring in an electrician for an overhead electrical overhaul.

Want to learn more about setting up the furnishings in your home office? Click on Office Ergonomics for more details.

(From top: cartoon from Brad Shorr’s guest post on Spark Plug CEO, photo Avery Design Interiors, all other photos from Pinterest)

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How to Design for the Graying Population in Your Office: The Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers, the largest and most well known portion of the American landscape. Born from 1946 to 1964, boomers continue to influence the way we work. Not yet obsolete and, due to the economy, either staying in the workforce or returning in droves, boomers bring special needs and also vast knowledge and experience to your company.

So who are they?

74.6 million strong, boomers are still the economy. They were optimistic and felt that education was their birthright. With a buy now and pay later take on life, they were the wealthiest and most physically fit generation redefining the landscape and developing the suburbs. They expected that life would get better over time and for many years that was the case. They are products of the 60s and the early 70s, the Vietnam War, Watergate and the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

How do Baby Boomers Affect the Design of your Workplace?

Generally in the workplace, Baby Boomers are workaholics and team players who work to live. They value raises and promotions but not feedback. They are collegial, like to meet in person and, with their cell phones at hand, are available to talk with you any time. Boomers value efficient and functional workspaces and meeting rooms as well as acoustic privacy.

When I was working at what I now jokingly call a small little-known insurance company (AIG), my favorite story well illustrates the overview of Baby Boomers in the work place. Design reflected hierarchy in AIG (and most offices in Wall Street). Where you sat, who you sat next to and how your office looked was a major deal even into the nineties when I was there. It was a happy day when I moved from my cubicle next to the copy room (how many times a day do you think I was interrupted to make coffee or fix the copier even though I was the marketing manager!) and moved to a small but private office near human resources.

But on to the story… Hearkening back to the late eighties, the manager in question was recently promoted and given a brand new office.  He entered the newly designed space and promptly called in the designer demanding his ‘fuzzy, wuzzy wall’. Where was it and why was it not installed? Still cracks me up…

The Graying Workplace

You may be more familiar with universal design in the home – kitchens that accomodate wheelchairs, accessible appliances, roll in showers with grab bars etc. Workplaces must also take into account the needs of an aging population. Primary concerns are loss of hearing, loss of vision and loss of agility.

Solutions include:

  • Boomers need to be provided with quiet office spaces where they can concentrate as not only do they have aneed for acoustic privacy but also some have the beginnings of hearing loss.
  • Contrasting colors on flooring and in signage.
  • Accessible bathrooms, hallways (passages wide enough to accommodate side by side wheelchairs), cafes and kitchenettes.
  • For new construction, offices are required to provide accessible bathrooms. Please check with your local  government for public accommodation laws.

Capture their Knowledge and Experience

As boomers are beginning to retire, companies are realizing that they will lose a tremendous resource of knowledge and experience.*

As an employer, it is important to focus on capturing that knowledge via technology and encouraging a knowledge sharing collaborative culture. Design can help via shared offices, collaborative spaces and provision of appropriate updated technology.

I am passionate about bringing my client’s brand to bear through the design of their space. Not only do we improve employees’ productivity and the functionality of your space but we ensure that your clients experience your company’s brand through your office environment.

*For more information on capturing the knowledge of the Baby Boomers, read ‘Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus’ by Ken Ball and Gina Gotsill.

Three Tips to a More Comfortable Day at Work – aka Desk and Computer Ergonomics

Workplace ergonomics. Sounds like this big heavy complicated concept doesn’t it? And yet nothing could be more important when you are sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day. Whether you are working in corporate America or running the latest and great entrepreneurial venture from home, it’s well worth it to consider the effect of your office setup on your health and wellbeing. Why? Because the economic costs of occupation related injuries are greater than the cost of providing an ergonomically correct workplace. Workplace injury costs can include lost wages, medical bills, insurance administrative costs and the cost to the other employees who have to pick up the slack.

Is this you?

What is ergonomics? According to Medword.com, “ergonomics is a science that addresses human performance and well-being in relation to various types of jobs, equipment, tools, and environment.”

1. Buy a comfortable chair. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. It must have the proper support, be height adjustable and have a tilting mechanism. If you are in a home office, a great ergonomic chair is the first investment I would ask you to make.

Here’s how to find the right one: Go to a local store and sit in many. Ensure that you can sit all the way to the back of the chair so that the back rest supports your lower back. Make sure your chair fits so that your knees are just a bit forward of the seat. Follow the 90-90-90 rule – that means that your hips, elbows and knees are each positioned at a 90 degree angle.

Other tips: Keeping your wrists straight when positioned over the keyboard will help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive wrist injuries. Keep your feet flat on the floor. This will minimize pressure on your back. If you are a little bit height challenged (I am) a foot rest works wonders.

2. Prevent eye and neck strain by positioning your computer screen at eye level. The center should be 15% below your line of sight and no more than 20″ from your eyes, just about an arm’s length distance. The eyes lead the body – if you position the monitor so that you are comfortable you will have better body posture. Using a document holder is far better than looking down at paperwork on your desk. Every thirty minutes take a break from staring at the computer screen. Blink your eyes to prevent dry eye. Focus on something not in your immediate vicinity – look out the window or at the art across the room.

3. Get up and move around every thirty minutes. Need an excuse to get up? Place your trash can out of reach. Make sure to stretch. When you are shifting tasks, do neck and shoulder rolls or wiggle your fingers. This can help prevent repetitive task injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Finding workplace ergonomics all too overwhelming? Contact us for a stress-free workplace consultation at info@averydesigninteriors.com.

Have a productive week!

First in a series of three on health and wellbeing in the workplace

(Photo credits: pinterest.com, ehow.com, wikipedia.com, thecollaredsheep.com)

Krafting Your Millenial Message

Last Thursday evening I was invited to Kraft Your Pitch, hosted by Kraft Foods, Evol8tion and Grind. Eight companies worked with Evol8tion, a company that helps startups find their brand soul mates, to “kraft” their pitch prior to the event. According to Evol8tion “Startups are generally very good at talking tech and even funding, but what about marketing and monetization –  specifically, how their product and/or proposition will help deliver value for both consumers and brands?” The winner, PrePlay Sports received a two month membership to Grind, a collaborative workspace at 29th and Park (Manhattan) and a chance to brainstorm with some of the top brand managers at Kraft.

It was a fascinating evening. As a person born on the cusp of Generation X and a former Wall Streeter, I still have a toe firmly planted in the Baby Boomer generations. But running my own business, I have found in a weird dichotomy that the older I get the more I resonate with GenX.

Why do I bring this up? Because the majority of the eight people who presented on Thursday evening were all Millenials. I was amazed by the creative and unusual new businesses being formed around the internet and social media.

You ask what’s a millenial and why does this make a difference in my business?

Millenials

Born from about 1977 to mid-2000, Millenials are also known as Generation Y, Generation We, the Net Generation and the Trophy Kids.  Trophy kids refers to the fact that kids in this generation get a trophy for showing up. They have been alternatively coddled and pushed by their parents. They are racially diverse, religiously observant and liberal, which you expect from anyone under the age of 30 but this group is even more so than the past. What else?

  • They are tech savvy collaborators.
  • They don’t talk on the phone – they text.
  • They consume information – technology is as easy as breathing air.
  • They value flexibility, family, friends and their health.
  • They are passionate about working at a job they love, where they can make a difference.
  • They value flextime over face time.
  • According to FwdNation, in the workplace Millenials want to creat value, feel valued and do work that aligns with their values.

The Millenial Workspace 

So what is the idealworkspace for these up and comers? It needs to be flexible and collaborative. They expect the latest and greatest in technology. They want to be able to personalize their space and they want workspaces that are inspiring and fun.

Because they care about their health and are more flexible about their time providing spaces such as game rooms, athletic facilities and juice bars will draw new talent to your office.

Are you ready to take your office to the next level? Avery Design can help you design an office space that appeals to all of the generations.

First in a three part series on the Effects of the Generations on Your Workspace

For more on Evol8tion and Kraft your pitch, check out jaffejuice.com.

(Photo credits: rickerwasabiroll.com, bizme.biz, dialogue.greshamsmith.com, o-plus-a.com)

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