Home is defined as a place where one permanently lives, however this can also be described as a place of feeling and belonging. Workplace is defined as a place of occupation. While these two components began as separate things, overtime they have begun to integrate. In this paper I will discuss how working in the comfort of your own home can provide an environment that is better for mental, physical and financial well-being, as opposed to that of an office and compare working from home vs working in an office.
Working from home boosts productivity by allowing for more privacy and freedom for people to work on their own schedule to complete tasks. It also benefits both mental and physical health by relieving the stress of having to work in a chaotic office environment. Telecommuting is also known to be cost efficient, which for many people is another benefit. The integration of these environments has become a central theme in architecture.
The privacy of telecommuting gives people more freedom to get work done in the comfort of their own home. The openness of the modern-day office invites opportunities for collaboration and communication, however while this design is good for working with others, it lacks privacy. The idea found in Designing For Privacy and Related Needs states that choice and control are two components people must practice in order to achieve the most privacy. Choice allows us to dictate the amount of interaction we have with others, while control gives us the opportunity to balance that exposure.
Without practicing the ideas of choice and control it can be difficult for workers to experience the advantages of privacy such as, self-identity and self-satisfaction. Overtime, it became harder to practice these ideas and therefore the opportunity for auditory and spatial privacy diminished. Due to the close proximity of the desks seen in workplaces, many privacy issues can arise. As a result of these problems, those who could, began working from home. This enabled them to have more control of their privacy, allowing them to focus easier. A recent Remote Collaborative Worker Survey conducted by ConnectSolutions demonstrates that employees feel more productive when they work remotely. The survey data states that of the 39% of people who work from home, 77% report greater productivity, with 30% accomplishing more in less time.
From my own personal observations, many of my peers find that they cannot focus in the provided studio workspace and make the decision to work at home. This further displays the notion that a quieter environment will boost productivity.
Commuting to work every day diminishes an individual's mental and physical health. Traffic, long hours, and transportation fares are just a few unenjoyable factors commuters must face in their journey to work. With telecommuting, people can avoid these factors and maintain a strong mental and physical state. The ConnectSolutions survey also collected data regarding the quality of life of remote workers. It stated that 45% of workers were getting more sleep, 35% were getting more physical exercise, and 42% were eating healthier.
Working from home gives people the flexibility to work on their own schedule. Instead of waking up a few hours early to catch a train, individuals can sleep in and maybe even go for a morning run. Workers will also have the opportunity to make their own fresh meals rather than spending money on unhealthy fast food, allowing them to eat healthier. Commuting can also negatively affect other areas of health. For example, according to a study conducted using 4,297 Texans, the longer the commute a person has the higher their blood pressure was, which overtime can lead to heart disease and stroke.
In addition, a number of studies have found that commuting can be detrimental to mental health. Researchers from the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas reported that people with commutes longer than ten miles each way have a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety will often negatively impact someone’s work performance. Working from home and avoiding long and dreadful commutes can combat these negative physical and mental impacts.
Working directly from home can help relieve the financial stress of both an employer and employee, that occurs when one must commute every day. Whether someone takes public transit or drives to work, there is a financial requirement for either gas money, parking and bus fare. Statistics gathered by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics stated that telecommuters who work full-time will save over $4000/year, and telecommuters who work part-time will save around 2,667/year.
Reducing or even eliminating the amount of money an individual spends when commuting will allow them to put this money towards leisure activities which can boost personal satisfaction. Working from home can also increase an individual's annual income. According to the same source, telecommuters make $4000 more per year than non-telecommuters (as shown in Figure 1).This increase in yearly earnings can be connected to the types of occupations that can be done at home such as white-collar jobs, unlike blue-collar jobs that require employees to be present in the workplace. Telecommuting will not only benefit employees, but employers would also begin to save an immense amount of money. The report also stated that businesses would save roughly $11,000/half-time telecommuters per year.With the more telecommuters a company has, they can avoid spending a large amount of money on rent space, furniture, and utilities. In the end this can benefit the employees as employers can use this money for things like raises or benefits. As you can see, telecommuting results in the mutual benefit of all parties involved.
While the desire and need to work remotely increases, architects must continue to understand a variety of design elements that must be considered when creating new homes and workspaces. Each person has various needs, however a study examined how most individuals choose to combine their work environment with their home environment in order to achieve two goals: to emphasize the social composition of the family, while at the same time create privacy for the communication required for their work experience.
In order to accommodate this goal, the creation of private home offices are essential to integrating home and work. Aspects such as space, privacy and location must be carefully considered. There are three questions an architect should ask before the design process: What is the composition of the family at the present time? What is the nature of the work? What are the options and preferences for the location of the office?
Understanding the answers to these questions will help designers create a successful workspace in the home environment. According to data collected by Jennifer L. Magee, availability (90%) and privacy (84%) are the main reasons a certain space in the home is chosen for work. This can help identify potential locations and characteristics of the home office. For example, someone may want their office located near the front door allowing easy access for clients, and glass doors to keep an eye on the family while still having some sort of auditory privacy. Due to the limited amount of occupations that allow telecommuting, architects should also consider the ways in which they can incorporate residential design aspects into workplaces.
With the inclusion of recreational rooms or sound masking devices, an office space can quickly produce a home like feeling. Architects design buildings and structures to meet the requirements their clients have given them. Understanding the dynamic between home and work, as well as the psychological and physical needs an individual working from home requires will allow architects to successful integrate the two environments.
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