In April 2020, the UK's Office for National Statistics revealed that 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home due to social distancing measures.
But how many of us were prepared and had a space that could allow us to adapt to home working so quickly?
I know I wasn’t.
Working from home has it’s plus points; spending more time with the family, no commute, flexible working hours and being more productive.
But it’s been a challenge with 3 children aged, 11, 10 and 2 also at home.
In these instances, the kitchen and dining room table becomes the home office, which is what has happened in my case.
A functional problem with this is that the table and chair height are not suitable for laptop use long term and can lead to back and eye problems.
Also, these tables are usually in the main section of the home meaning you cannot get away from the hubbub of family life. Home schooling, lunch, snacks, more snacks, painting, the list is endless. And nothing is safe from small hands. I’m lucky that no nonsense emails have been sent from the 2 year old been bashing at the laptop keys!
And then what do you do with all your paperwork, pens, notes etc? They need to be close by for work, but you then need to clear it all up to eat dinner. And we haven’t even covered toddler tantrums during Teams meetings, or ‘Mummy, Mummy’ while you’re on a phone call.
This experience has lead me to explore how you can successfully work from home if you have a young family and how kitchen design in particular could accommodate this.
With 86% of UK employees wanting to continue working remotely for at least one day a week*, it seems that working from home could become the norm.
For me, it’s about striking the right balance between family and work.
To do this I want to create a work space where I can leave paperwork out, be comfortable, and make phone calls and hold virtual meetings without being interrupted. But I also want to be able to see the children and overhear what they are up to.
Pictured below is what happens when you leave out work and your 2 year old wants to “help” with the design. I don’t think swirly orange kitchens will become a trend anytime soon!
With over 16 years design experience, I think kitchens could hold the key to getting this work-life balance.
In recent times, the kitchen has become the hub of the home. No longer designed and used purely for cooking, the kitchen is also where a lot of us will eat and socialise. And with the popularity of home working starting to increase, the kitchen could also become our new work space.
Not all of us have the space for building a new home office, or even want one, so making the kitchen function as an office too will be the way forward for lots of us.
Here’s 3 design ideas that I’m expecting to incorporate more within kitchen design going forward:
Over the last few years I’ve seen more demand for pantry units with pocket doors. These are great. They blend into the kitchen and you can hide appliances that you don’t want left on your worksurface.
These could easily be adapted to create a workspace that can be hidden away when not in use.
The height of the worksurface can be adjusted to suit different people, there’s high-level storage for paperwork and magnetic strips for stationery. A pantry unit can make an ideal compact home office.
PICTURED: Pocket doored pantry from Stoneham
This folding table example from ewe can be transformed in a split-second from a wall unit into a table. Designed as a dining table, this sits two people and has storage space for plates, glasses and cutlery.
A leather bag is attached to the outside which can be used to store newspapers and magazines. This is cleverly designed so that the contents are not disturbed when the table is folded away.
This would make a great home office space. It’s perfect for those with limited space. The shelves could be used for stationery and paperwork and the bag on the outside for laptop chargers and accessories.
This ‘rise and fall’ worksurface is part of the Freedom range from Symphony that we sell. It’s designed with multi-generational households and those with restricted mobility in mind. So, instead of being in a fixed position, the worksurfaces can go up and down (rise and fall).
If you don’t have space to create a hidden compact office, or anywhere to mount a folding table, then a rise and fall worksurface could be used as part of the kitchen layout.
Instead of housing the sink and hob it could be used on the island or peninsula to create a flexible work area. During the day it can be used as a desk and adjusted to ensure the workstation is at the correct height, and during the evening it returns to be part of the kitchen worksurface.
I think that the coronavirus pandemic will make us all think more about the space we live in and how we use it.
We’ve already started to see more people coming to us to talk about changing their spaces. I’m looking forward to creating some exciting, multi-functional kitchens.
- Victoria Anderson, Elliotts Living Spaces Showrooms Manager
*Information taken from a survey of over a thousand office workers, commissioned by the UK office marketplace platform, HubbleHQ.