With more people working from home, houses will need to become more adaptable in order to cope. According to the Hiscox Home of the Future report, that’s exactly what’s happening.
The home is no longer just a castle for many Brits. It’s also their office. But with the number of homeworkers having hit record levels in the UK finding enough space in which to live and work will become an increasing issue.
There are 4.2 million people who work from home – around 1.5 million of whom work exclusively from home – according to government statistics. Many professionals looking to quit the rat race are setting up their own businesses from home, while many firms now give employees the option to work from home for at least a few days each month. The trend is likely to continue, with a further one in five Britons saying they want to work from home, according to Hiscox’s Home of the Future report.
But where will people find room to work when more of us are likely to live in smaller homes in the years ahead, with housing already in short supply and growing pressure to build more accommodation on existing land earmarked for development?
The existing family home is also likely to become more cramped, with 45% of British parents expecting their children to live with them for longer than in previous generations, or to return home, while a further 12% of people foresee their parents coming to live with them in future, Hiscox’s research reveals.
As a result, Zen living is likely to become a necessity, rather than a lifestyle choice. ‘Mandatory minimalism’ – where we have to keep less stuff, because we simply don’t have space for it – will increasingly become the norm.
Technology has already helped in this de-cluttering process through what the Hiscox report calls “accidental minimalism”. Books, music, films and photos are increasingly being stored in the Cloud, enabling us to do away with our CDs and DVDs to free up space.
One piece of technology that brought about the homeworking revolution has also helped to transform our entire home into an open-plan office. The home broadband connection, with fast access to the internet from any room in our house – thanks to wi-fi – has meant the homeworker is no longer shackled to a makeshift desk in a cubby hole under the stairs.
That freedom to work anywhere will be increasingly important as house design will need to become more flexible, to accommodate our changing needs. Architects and interior designers are looking to do more with less space, and, although small, it’s likely the home of the future will be beautifully formed. ArchiBlox, an architectural design firm, calls it the “tiny house movement” where “you think big but build small”.
A desk that turns into a bed
With increasing pressure on space, it’s likely that the dedicated home office – a room used solely for work – will become a luxury that few could afford. Instead, homes will contain rooms that serve a number of functions. So, an office by day will convert into a dining room or space for entertaining friends and family in the evening.
Designers are creating space-saving multi-functional furniture, so a home office can be packed away at the end of the working day. Austrian-based design studio Creative Industrial Objects has made a side table that quickly unfolds into a workstation, which, as it’s on wheels, can be moved anywhere in your house. Italian firm Clei, which specialises in modular, versatile furniture, has created a work desk that transforms into a double bed.
But why get out of bed at all? With working hours becoming more flexible, many of us already choose to ‘work snack’ throughout the day – and night. Over a quarter of Brits admitted to checking their work emails while in bed at night, according to the Hiscox report. So why shouldn’t our bed become our desk? “Start the day by working from bed,” said Winston Churchill. He was often most productive when recumbent, dealing with a mountain of paperwork as well as dictating speeches and letters. By working from bed we could become so laid back we’ll be horizontal – literally!
A haven within the home
But with work increasingly colonising our time at home, having a space in the house where we can escape is likely to become increasingly important. Creating specific wireless areas within the home, by hard-wiring wi-fi connections into the walls of certain rooms, could make it a healthier space, says Bill McCorkell, Director of Archiblox in the Hiscox report, by clearing up the “electrosmog” of wireless radiation caused by lots of wi-fi connections.
That could lead to certain rooms becoming havens of peace away from our busy working lives. In the home of the future, the bathroom will be transformed into a personal spa, predicts Chris Lefteri, a materials and design consultant.
“I think we will increasingly see the bathroom become a place of escape for people,” says Lefteri. “New materials will change the way in which the room looks: it won’t be full of cold, hard surfaces, but will contain materials that don’t mind getting wet to make for warm, sumptuous, cosy spaces. New fibre-optic lighting will be able to be altered subtly to change our moods, which will help us to unwind.”
So let’s turn off those devices, tune out, and soak away those work-related stresses…
Do you work from home? Run your business from your kitchen table? Like the sound of the above? Share your views in the comments below…
For more on the Hiscox Home of the Future visit the Hiscox home blog – Cover Stories – on hiscox.co.uk/cover-stories