The the multi-function home office project.

Well 2021 is shaping up to have started in much the same way as it ended for much of the world.

Millions of people worldwide are still working, and learning from home.

2020 saw many people working from home for the first time, and many christening a home office. If these spaces are here to stay we want them to try and be as functional and as practical as possible and perhaps to be useful when the workday is over.

For business and government ensuring your employees have a safe space to work at home is a critical part of your duty of care. So let’s start by taking a peek into a few home work spaces including my own and my kids’.

Ethnographic research

Ethnographic Questions

Participant 1:

Tell me do you do much work from home? :

Yes as well as studying for my law degree I also administer two companies and when I am not doing that I complete billable work for clients from home as a management consultant. 

What kind of work do you do there? :

I mostly work on the computer, but I also have to refer to text books a lot and often make handwritten notes, also need to make the odd phone call, sort mail and attend to home and business admin. Most of my work professionally and for my degree is about reading and writing and watching and listening to lectures and participating in online group work. 

Tell me a bit about your workspace ?:

Well one of the things I really enjoy about working from home is the ability to move around and not sit in the one position all day, this is probably my favourite thing about working from home, I used to get quite a bit of back pain and shoulder tension from sitting in the one spot all day, at home I am able to sit in places where I can put my feet up, sometimes lay down, and other times sit up in my desk chair. I also have a standing desk which I find I don’t really used at home because I am able to easily move around. My desk is probably a little over cluttered with tea cups and odds and ends at times, and I really could use a second monitor. I sometimes use my apple TV as a second monitor, but mostly only when I have a zoom style call on the TV and am using my computer to take notes. 

What other kinds of things do you do there? : 

Well given that I work from various places a lot. I often eat at my desk while watching the news, sometime listen to music or play computer games, I like to play one old game from the late 90s online, this could probably use a bigger monitor. 

How long do you spend there? :

Well when I am working for a client and studying at full capacity could be up to 12 hours or more per day, it can get pretty full on, some way to work in some exercise while working would be good. 

What’s the best thing about your workspace ?:

My workspace really is the full extent of the entire rather large apartment 114 square meters + balcony so as I mentioned I find that a positive, and even when I am simply sitting in the one place its nice not to feel closed in, there is a good natural light and air flow and a nice outlook. 

And the worst thing about your workspace?: 

I really need a second monitor available on my desk, while its great to be able to move around with the laptop, sometimes you need two screens and for one of them to be nice and big.

Do you have any stories about how your workspace had a positive impact on you or your work?

I really can’t stand interruptions; I am pretty good at handling large and multiple workloads and have done this my whole life. Working from home allows me to reach out by phone or zoom when I need to, but knuckle down and focus more easily. It also allows me to switch to tasks that are more suited to the time of day, for example I might find it easier to study a dry subject like constitutional law in the morning and switch to my often more interesting billable work later in the day / evening without being constrained by being “at work” or “at Uni” 

Do you have any stories about how your workspace has had a negative impact on your work?

I have talked about the monitor, I got a pretty bad headache last year, pretty sure it was for working for way to long with small fonts in a multi tab excel spreadsheet, work ages to get it done, I have had a migraine before this was close, but not quite one I think as I have learned how to see them coming and get in early with the aspro and some rest.

Do you share the space with anyone else ?:

When my 8-year-old twin girls were learning from home, and now while they are on holidays, yes. Luckily there is two of them and they are the same age, so they generally play well together and keep each other occupied. And when I say the workspace I just mean the home in general not my desk or computer.

What I found most surprising was how much being able to move around more freely impacted on the participants physical health. This is a big deal, and I think really needs to be looked into.

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