The home office used to be a tidy desk tucked in a corner where we paid bills and made a few phone calls. These days it’s more likely a full-fledged command post as we conduct more and more of our work from home. Three years ago 5 million Americans worked from home full-time, according to a Census study. That was before the Great Recession turned us into a nation of home-based entrepreneurs. Who knows what that number might be today?
The problem is that the home office has always been like the crazy cousin who doesn’t fit in with family gatherings. The morphology of the American home has accommodated elaborate TV rooms, dinner parties served in the kitchen and master bedrooms the size of hotel suites. But the home office is still looking for its place. Here are seven ways you might be working a few years from now:
The L.O.F.T. Workstation by Maciek Wojcicki is a new furniture type: in place of the stand-alone desk, the L.O.F.T. is a customizable work area with adjustable desk, shelves, lighting, partitions etc. It’s the kind of work space that flexes to fit any space.
Modernist prefab homes have failed to live up to their hype, in part because they’re rarely cheaper than a custom-designed home. But prefab structures are gaining popularity as backyard offices, like the Office Pod. They’re an expedient way to add a private work space without permits or contractors traipsing through your home.
Offices may reside most comfortably at some distance from the home, even if they’re not prefab. Andrew Berman, a New York architect, designed this copper-clad retreat on Long Island for a writer who wanted to work in a secluded natural setting
With offices growing become more mobile and possibly more energy self-reliant, do they even need to be indoors? Mathias Schnyder designed this free-range workspace with a solar canopy powerful enough to run a laptop.
In small homes, the office may evolve into an electronic kiosk for checking email and printing documents. George Abdoulas designed The Pillar, a concept for a floor-to-ceiling stack of key office components: computer, printer, storage, etc.
Leave it to the Japanese to come up with a stowable office. For telecommuters who may not have the luxury of a dedicated work space, the Trunk Station opens to form a mini-cubicle and folds away at day’s end.
It’s increasingly common for people who share a home to also share one long work desk. The double work surface consolidates space and makes their home office more like a dining table–place for sharing thoughts and interaction.