May 22, 2024

Despite the fervent requests by companies for employees to “come back to the office,” for many, the genie that escaped from the bottle (or cubicle) during the COVID pandemic is not returning any time soon. Working from home (WFH) is still wildly popular. 
 
The Wall Street Journal notes, “Around a quarter of total American workdays happened off-site in 2023. While that is down from more than 60% during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, many expect working from home to become a permanent practice as hybrid models take root. The spaces will shift, becoming more dynamic, more personal, more suited to collaboration, and better-looking — designers, architects, and product planners say.”

 What This Means for You — Those workers who enjoy the option of working from home, either full-time or with hybrid arrangements, have many new tools to strike a work-life balance. Architects, interior designers, and home builders have taken notice, and home offices are evolving.
 

Creating a functional and warm space for a home office has never been easier. When you’re ready to start, take a few minutes to get some ideas from Acme. Click here and let the WFH begin!
 

Six Ways the Home Office Is Changing

For those workers who are still allowed to spend their working hours being productive in the comfort of their own homes, new tools and interior designs have evolved. Based on several residential and business media reports, here are five that stand out.

#1 Multifunctional Rooms Still Rule the Roost

Those days when a home office was in a closet, storage room, or other cramped cubby-hole are long gone. WFHers have integrated their tasks throughout the entire residence. For this to work for everyone else in the family, almost every room must be multifunctional. 
 
Joseph DiNapoli, co-founding principal of “Study Architects” in San Francisco, which specializes in single-family home construction for the Bay Area’s tech titans said in The Wall Street Journal, “‘Flexibility is key. A CEO’s home theater could double as a meeting space or room for video calls. A covered outdoor area could function as an al-fresco office. Interior designs will include a lot of spaces that have a comfortable chair that someone can just pull up in and spend an hour or two reading emails or taking a Zoom call.”
 
DiNapoli added, “Making the office concept work in multiple places requires well-thought-out infrastructure: Wi-Fi that can reach outside. Flattering lighting for meetings on camera. Soft wall coverings or upholstered furniture that dampen noise, and fans that operate silently. Plus, furniture will need to multitask.”

father working from home

#2 Delivery Security Begins at Home

It didn’t take long for criminals (aka “porch pirates”) to find new ways to ply their trade when work started being done at home. Whether they are legal documents, product samples, or birthday gifts for one of the kids, items delivered to the front porch and left unattended for only a few minutes can be easily snatched by nimble thieves. 
 
For those working from home, an ingenious solution has been developed by MB Sentinel and has joined the list of innovative products offered by Acme. It’s the Box Gobbler

Box Gobbler for home deliveries

Made from stainless steel and with keypad access and conveyor rollers, this parcel safe is truly that! Plus, door panel insulation ensures heating and cooling efficiencies wherever it is installed. While it is best placed in a wall, the Box Gobbler can also be installed in standalone applications. The door and frame are shipped fully assembled with framing. The pre-assembled roller bottom, electronic lock, and tech plate ship out during the trim-out phase. 

#3 Be Well and Prosper

That hour saved by forgoing the commute to the office is being used by some home-based workers for daily exercise and other wellness activities. This trend, which started and grew exponentially during the pandemic, continues, and home designers are adjusting to facilitate it. This trend towards wellness was at the top of Acme Brick’s What’s Hot for 2024 list.
 
In this WSJ feature, designers noted, “Clients have requested home-wide air purification systems, sun-tracking skylights, Wi-Fi-enabled meditation gardens, minifridges for hydration and healthful beverages, and desks with ab balls or treadmills instead of chairs. The article adds that fitness at home is a growing trend, but it has expanded to include a focus on overall wellness. “This could be a meditation room or a yoga studio. Or bathrooms that are transformed into spa-like retreats with shower systems, soaking tubs, and calming color schemes.” 
 
Home wellness starts on the “ground floor” with porcelain tile.  

Porcelain tile flooring
 
Acme Brick flooring expert Cassandra Kilgore has seen the popularity of this product skyrocket. “Some porcelain tile can be purchased with antimicrobial technology, which leads to a cleaner environment. These tiles are allergen-free; they are durable, easy to clean, won’t stain, and are pet-friendly. They keep their ‘like new’ appearance longer than any other floor and can be a permanent floor.”

#4 Looking Good

It is fascinating to see how the overwhelming acceptance of digital conferencing tools such as Zoom, Teams, or GoTo Meetings has changed the way meetings are now “choreographed.” This has led to an uptick in what interior designers call the “intentional glimpses” of a home office.
 
Bradley Nelson, chief marketing officer of Sotheby’s International Realty, notes, “Workspace designs will incorporate video-ready sightlines — or ‘corridors’ — that give views of decor or scenery reflecting the user’s identity or personality. At the same time, care will be taken that it’s not too intimate or private.”
 
This source notes, “Personalizing home office spaces may hold special appeal for workers atop the corporate ladder. ‘Many executives have been kicked out of their large offices, encouraged to abdicate and hot-desk on the floor,’ says Omar Nobil, creative director for home-furnishings retailer Design Within Reach. ‘The home office is a space they actually get to control.’”

This trend has also driven interest in better digital meeting cameras, lighting, and microphones. Best Products Reviews researched and published a comprehensive guide — with links for features, pricing, and purchase — of the Ten Best Cameras for Digital Meetings

lady working at a stand up desk at home

#5 Finding the Right Home + Office Furnishings Vibe

In the beginning, when WFH was just becoming a real thing, workers leaned toward furnishings that were more functional. However, over the past couple of years, that has changed. According to the WSJ, “With hybrid work becoming more permanent, people will want workspaces that look and feel homey while still incorporating the ergonomic benefits of traditional office furniture. 
 
“For one client, Joesph DiNapoli’s company is building a custom desk that has the look of a dining table but is fitted with cable management and storage features. MillerKnoll, which produces many office classics, is working on chairs that look less industrial. It is also offering more color, material, and finish options to better harmonize with other home furnishings.”
 
Finding this “happy medium between work and life” can also be accomplished with other design hacks. For example, an accent wall composed of Fusion™ thinBRIK from Acme can soften the look of a home office while serving as a nice “backsplash” for those digital conference calls. Fusion is a glazed thin brick, and it is offered in various colors by applying a ceramic glazed facing to a previously fired clay thin brick body. It is a real brick, that is fired with the same strict standards as all Acme thinBRIK. The Fusion body is manufactured and glazed in the USA. 

A Good Investment

Creating a professional but still warm look for a home office and integrating that space into the entire residence is possible with a little investment and a lot of ingenuity. Since many “first impressions” occur via digital meetings, getting professional help from an interior designer or architect might be worth the investment this requires.
 
As for dealing with a dog that starts barking when he hears strangers chatting on the computer screen, that’s another challenge altogether. 
 

If you’re looking for great ideas for your home office, click here and see the innovative home improvement products from Acme.


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